Houston Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. suffered an indignity as part of his start in Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday night, becoming the first pitcher to ever surrender five home runs in a World Series contest. McCullers departed during the fifth inning, having allowed seven runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
McCullers’ troubles started out of the gate. Bryce Harper (a two-run shot), Alec Bohm, and Brandon Marsh each launched home runs in the first two innings to give Philadelphia a 4-0 edge and in the process made the Phillies the first team to ever hit three home runs in the first two frames of a World Series Game.
McCullers would settle down for a time after the second inning. He retired eight consecutive batters, taking him into the fifth. That’s when he ran into more trouble. McCullers, who was, for whatever reason, allowed to face the lineup for a third time, surrendered a single to Marsh and then back-to-back home runs to Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins, putting the Phillies up by a 7-0 margin.
It’s worth noting that Harper raised eyebrows after his home run in the first inning when he was shown on the Fox broadcast first calling for and then delivering a message to Bohm, then waiting for his turn at the plate at the on-deck circle. It’s unclear what, exactly, Harper said to Bohm, or if it even pertained to McCullers — let alone if he was tipping his pitches or using a predictable pitch pattern.
Nevertheless, Bohm played coy when he was asked by Ken Rosenthal about Harper’s comments to him later in the game. He said, plainly, that that conversation would remain between them.
After the game, both McCullers and manager Dusty Baker dismissed the idea that the starter was tipping pitches.
“This has nothing to do with tipping,” McCullers told reporters, including Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. “Clearly they had a good game plan against me and they executed better than I did.”
“I got whooped,” he added.
Baker, meanwhile, said the team didn’t see any reason to believe McCullers was tipping. “Sometimes, they just hit you,” he said, according to Gabe Lacques of USA Today.
Whatever Harper did or didn’t say, and whatever the Phillies did or didn’t notice about McCullers’ delivery, they launched more home runs against him on Tuesday than the four he allowed in 47 2/3 regular season innings.