It’s not that the Astros can't still win this series down 2-1. But the direction of this team has to change quickly if they do.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Lance McCullers was terrible tonight. He gave up seven runs on five home runs in 4.1 innings pitched. The Phillies were sitting on curves, and tonight the McCullers breaking ball had no bite and found the middle of the plate..well...enough times to find the seats five times.
Although McCullers did strike out six, he only got nine swinging strikes in 78 pitches.
Sure, the Phillies are hot. They’re hot against the supposed Astros veteran aces, Justin Verlander and McCullers. After McCullers left in the fifth innings, Ryne Stanek and then Jose Urquidy for three innings managed to tame the Phillies' bats like they were pussycats.
In Game One, Justin Verlander allowed five runs in five innings. The bullpen allowed one run in five innings.
What a time for the vaunted Astros starting rotation to collapse. (Apologies to Framber)
At least the bullpen has held up, although the loss in Game One goes to Luis Garcia. In the three games where the starters melted down in two of the three, the bullpen has surrendered only two runs all series.
You can blame Dusty Baker for not taking out McCullers sooner, but what difference would it have made after Bryce Harper’s two-run homer in the first? The Astros had only five hits, all singles, and made Phillies starter Ranger Suarez look like — Justin Verlander. Once upon a time, anyway.
One of the four hits was by DH David Hensley, but Baker pinch-hit for him in the ninth by big o-fer Trey Mancini. Hensley’s hit in this, his only appearance since the ALDS, equaled the playoff total of the other DHs throughout the playoffs.
Jose Altuve resumed his slump, going 0 - 4. Yordan Alvarez has become a ghost with his phantom .091 batting average in three World Series games.
Four of the Astros five hits were from the six - nine portions of the batting order.
If it were me, and politics weren’t a factor. I would start Javier tomorrow, Luis Garcia, Thursday, Valdez Saturday, and Urquidy for Game Seven. Yes, no Verlander or McCullers.
They don’t got it and tonight Urquidy showed yet again he is a World Series beast. Reputation doesn’t win championships.
Still, a win tomorrow behind the real second-half ace of the Astros staff, Cristian Javier, and everything turns yet again. Then the series is guaranteed to return to Houston, probably down 3-2, since Verlander will probably pitch Game Five.
And if you ask me, and nobody did, I think Dusty’s biggest mistake was not starting Javier tonight. Then he’d be available for a Game 7 instead of McCullers. (But only if the Astros can hit.)
(Yes, I’m in a salty mood. What Astros fan isn’t. Please prove me wrong Justin. Prove me wrong Lance. Prove me wrong Dusty)