PHILADELPHIA — It was a rough outing for the Astros Lance McCullers in Philadelphia. In Game 3, he gave up five home runs in 4 1/3 innings and left with the Astros trailing, 7-0. That would be the final, as the Phillies grabbed a 2-1 World Series lead.
The Phillies’ Bryce Harper got it started for Philadelphia in the first inning with a two-run home run. In the second inning, Harper could be seen on the broadcast saying something to teammate Alec Bohm. Bohm walked to the plate and hit it out of the park to give Philadelphia a 3-0 lead.
The chatter started on social media that McCullers may be tipping his pitches to Phillies hitters, basically showing something in his delivery that they were picking up on.
The Twitter chatter got louder when Brandon Marsh homered for a 4-0 Phillies' lead. Philadelphia added two more on Kyle Schwarber’s two-run blast and Rhys Hoskins homered to make it 7-0.
By the fifth inning when McCullers was pulled, he had given up a World Series-record five home runs.
During the game, former Major League Baseball scout and KHOU 11 baseball analyst Jeremy Booth addressed the theories on Twitter, tweeting that whether he was tipping or not, he was having his struggles.
McCullers was asked about it after the game.
"There’s no excuse. I didn’t pitch well. They beat me. That’s it. There’s no nothing, other than that," he said. "My stuff was good. I know that because I felt like it. My stuff was there. The movement was there. The location for the most part for there. I made a couple mistakes and unfortunately for me, they hit them out of the ballpark."
“I got whooped. End of story," he said. "This has nothing to do with tipping."
Schwarber walked leading off the first inning.
“We could all see he was kind of iffy from the start,” Phillies outfielder Nick Castellanos said.
Speculation started soon after Harper hit a go-ahead, two-run drive with two outs in the first, sending a knuckle-curve 402 feet into the right-center field seats. McCullers did a 360 and hopped off the mound, not even waiting for the ball to land.
“Kind of a lazy curveball,” catcher Astros catcher Martín Maldonado said.
Harper said something to Castellanos and pointed a finger at his teammate's chest after crossing the plate.
“Guys are always looking for something, always looking to see if they’re tipping their pitches,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We didn’t see anything.”
Harper then yelled “Bohmer!” before a quick chat with Bohm, who was on deck.
“Anytime you have information, you want to be able to give that to your teammates at any point,” Harper said. “Throughout the whole season we’ve done that.”
Bohm led off the second with the 1,000th homer in Series history, driving a sinker 373 feet into the left-field stands.
Did Harper tell him anything?
“Maybe,” Bohm said with a smile.
Thirteen pitches later, Marsh sent a hanging slider soaring 358 feet and just over the right-center wall, where the ball dropped out of the glove of 10-year-old Ty Kuhner of Wilmington, Delaware, and bounced back onto the field. The home run call was upheld after a video review.
Schwarber led off the fifth with the most majestic of the homers, launching a hanging changeup 443 feet off the shrubbery behind the center-field fence. McCullers crouched, then turned and watched with a pained look as the ball landed.
“It was kind of mind-boggling because he doesn’t give up homers,” Baker said.
Jeremy Booth called it
Booth mentioned it in our KHOU 11+ postgame wrap-up with Jason Bristol on Saturday night that he disagreed with Astros manager Dusty Baker's decision to start McCullers in Game 3. Here was that recap.