PHILADELPHIA – It was deafening, frenzied, turbulent chaos.
Fans screamed. Chanted. Cheered.
And that was before a single World Series pitch was thrown on a beautiful 65-degree evening at Citizens Bank Park.
By the time the game ended, and the Philadelphia Phillies’ 7-0 thrashing of the Houston Astros was complete, with a record torrent of power, the frenzied sellout crowd of 45,712 strolled out of the ballpark with a resounding message:
“Welcome to Philly, where we relish making opposing teams’ lives miserable.’’
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The Phillies, who are undefeated at home this postseason, put on a power show at the outset, and never relented.
They became the first team to hit three home runs in the first two innings of a World Series game for a 4-0 lead.
They became the first team to hit five home runs in the first five innings of a World Series game for a 7-0 lead.
They hit 1,950 feet of homers.
WORLD SERIES: Phillies make history: Five homers off Astros starter in Game 3 win
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And Astros starter Lance McCullers became the first pitcher to not only surrender five home runs in a World Series game, but also any postseason game.
McCullers had given up only one home run to a left-handed hitter all season, and gave up a career-high three homers to lefties this night. He threw 34 pitches to left-handed hitters, and only once did they swing and a miss.
The game lasted nearly 3 ½ hours.
It was over in about 10 minutes.
The crowd loved every minute, with Phillies’ fans chanting, “Cheater! Cheater!,” every time an Astros player stepped to the plate.
One fan behind the Phillies dugout walked up before the game went up and down the aisle with a sign reading: “Try Stealing This Sign.’’
There was a huge trolling message on a billboard on the Schuylkill Expressway that read, “Had a funny sign, but the Astros stole it.”
Well, the ironic part is that it might have been the Phillies who were stealing signs.
Certainly, something was awfully peculiar the way they teed off on McCullers.
The Phillies, particularly their left-handed hitters, jumped all over McCullers like they knew what pitch was coming.
Bryce Harper, who hit the game-winning home run in his last swing against the San Diego Padres to win the National League pennant, started the onslaught by slamming the first pitch he saw from McCullers off the facing of the second deck, 402 feet away.
Harper strolled around the bases to a deafening roar, returned to the dugout, and immediately called out for Alec Bohm, who was standing in the on-deck circle. Bohm walked over, Harper whispered into his ear, only for the inning to end.
When Bohm opened the second inning, McCullers threw him a 93-mph fastball, and Bohm sent it 373 feet away over the left-center-field fence. Three batters later, Brandon Marsh homered over the right-field fence.
“Just thought we had a great approach,” said Harper when asked what he told Bohm. “We talked about it before the game, just trying to get on him early, trying to get on him often. He’s really good. He’s a really good postseason pitcher as well.”
Harper was pressed again, but didn’t divulge anything.
“I think that’s just general conversation,” Harper said. “Just trying to get as much information as we can to each other. And just trying to have the best at-bats we could.”
McCullers appeared to change his leg kick, and settled down nicely, retiring seven consecutive hitters when Marsh broke the streak with a single to right field.
Then, just like that, McCullers fell apart again.
Left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber hit a 443-foot monster shot deep over the center-field fence, and five pitches later, Rhys Hoskins homered for the sixth time this postseason.
It had been 4,473 days since the last World Series game was played in Philadelphia, and certainly, after this dizzying display of power, it proved well worth the wait.
The powerful Astros certainly like the pitching matchups the next two games with Cristian Javier and Justin Verlander lined up against Aaron Nola and Noah Syndergaard, but their offense has been stymied.
They have scored in just four of their 26 innings against the Phillies in these first three games, and they were held to just five singles without an extra-base hit Tuesday. Their top five hitters in the lineup – Jose Altuve, Jeremy Peña, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker – produced just one hit, going one-for-18.
Most alarming is that their offense has been completely suffocated by the Phillies’ bullpen, failing to score in 12 ⅔ innings, collecting just seven hits.
Who knows, maybe the Astros’ lineup simply is rusty from playing few games this postseason. This was only their ninth game in 27 days since the end of the regular season.
“We’ve tried to stay as sharp as possible with all these days off,’’ Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “It is a rhythm sport. So a lot of it you have to play it in your mind and sometimes fool yourself that you do have rhythm because you can’t, you know, there’s no alternative really. There’s no substitute for game action.’’
Game 4 is Wednesday night back in Philadelphia.
Gave 5 is Thursday in Philadelphia.
The Astros need to win one of the two to assure that when they return to Houston, they’re taking the Phillies with them.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale