PHILADELPHIA — Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. It took the calm and graceful presence of a steady heartbeat, and a swarm of home runs that flew across Citizens Bank Park to sting the Houston Astros as the Philadelphia Phillies offense punctured five home runs and followed the ease of a remarkable pitching performance from a Venezuelan native that helped award them a 7-0 victory in Game 3 of the World Series.
The night started with two-time MVP Bryce Harper taking charge as the home run ringleader with his sixth home run of the 2022 postseason, a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to set the tone early for the Phillies’ boisterous offense. The next two home runs would come an inning later, with Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh hitting solo dingers to give the Phillies a comfortable 4-0 lead out of the second inning.
With the lead in place, Phillies Game 3 starter Ranger Súarez took the hill with a command and fiercely keen presence that could not be matched by his pitching counterpart, Lance McCullers Jr. Súarez dominance flowed with the pace of the Phillies offense and manager Rob Tomson could not ask for anything more from the 27-year-old lefty who made his starting debut in the World Series.
A serene heartbeat best describes the heart Súarez has beating in his chest as the big moments — that tend to consume the best competitors — did not seep underneath the skin of his 6’1” frame.
“Truthfully, it doesn’t really surprise me because I know the heartbeat that doesn’t change at all,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said on Súarez’s success on the hill. “Doesn’t matter what scenario we’re in. I know the stuff. He competes. He’s very calm.”
“I’m never shocked when Ranger goes out there and does that,” Phillies phenom Harper expressed after feeding off Súarez’s outing. “It’s just who he is, and that’s just, he’s a no-heartbeat guy. He goes out there, and they announce his name. He probably had no idea that they were even announcing him or people were going crazy.”
You're absolute Gold, Ranger pic.twitter.com/IBptHxwQRL
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) November 2, 2022
Súarez utilized a range of pitches — most reliant: sinker (36%), change-up (16%), four-seam fastball (14%), cutter (14%) — to lock down the plate, going five frames, allowing three hits, one walk and striking out four. Maturing as one of the Phillies’ most herculean — in stature and dominance — and taxing pitchers, Súarez was able to complete three 1-2-3 innings through the five-inning in front of thunderous fans that brought with them the electricity, in some way, shape, or form, energized the dugout that sits along the first-base line.
As the stage stretches to its maximum capacity, the same Súarez that progressed into one of Venezuela’s most flourishing pitchers credits his composure to his on-the-field success, “I’ve always been like this. It’s nothing new… It’s something that you got to keep your composure throughout the game, regardless of the outcome, regardless of what happens in the game. It has helped me a lot in my career, so I’m not going to change.”
The Pie de Cuesta, Venezuela-grown ballplayer, became the second-born Venezuelan player to win a World Series game. The first was Freddy García, who won a World Series game in 2005 with fellow Venezuelan and manager Ozzy Guillén leading the Chicago White Sox to a championship.
Súarez credits another Venezuelan as someone who has mentored him and has vocalized the beauty of his own painted road to the World Series, “I was lucky enough to have Lester Straker by my side back when I was younger in the academy, like going up through the levels. And one of the first things he told me was that it’s a very beautiful thing to make it to a World Series.
As a Venezuelan guy you’re coming at it from a different place. And you’re here, people love you, it’s a great feeling to have, to experience. The results that we got in so far have brought a lot of confidence to myself, and again just the fact that we go out every day to have fun. It helps. Like it’s a great feeling to have overall.”
Before the realization that Súarez would produce an impeccable World Series outing, it was a Castellanos diving catch that was made after the first pitch of the game that allowed the Phillies’ defense to heighten the stakes when a brush of bellowing fans held a high octave till the last pitch of the game.
“The fan base, I mean, it’s just so much fun. They showed up tonight knowing that we needed ’em, and they continue to do that,” Harper said. “It’s a really good Houston team over there. They have been here, they have been in all situations before and to be able to come in here and win the first game here was huge for us.”
As the Phillies kept a firm grasp on the Astros’ offense, they tightened the hold with back-to-back blasts in the bottom of the fifth inning, starting with Kyle Schwarber’s two-run homer and a solo shot from Rhys Hoskins. Out of the five home runs hammered Tuesday night, Schwarber’s home run was launched the furthest (443 feet) with the highest exit velocity (113.2 exit velocity).
After Framber Valdez saved the Astros from falling to a 2-0 series hole in Houston — a 6.1 inning outing that surrendered a lone run — the Astros entered the game with the hopes that McCullers Jr. would follow suit. However, Astros manager Dusty Baker allowed the 29-year-old to stumble through 4.1 innings, allowing all seven runs on six hits (five of the six for home runs), tallying five strikeouts and one walk before making the deflated call to the bullpen.
Astros reliever Ryne Stanek pitched ⅔ of an inning, Baker brought out José Urquidy for the first time in the World Series. Urquidy — who started in both the 2019 and 2021 World Series and has recorded three wins in the Fall Classic — pitched three seamless innings of one-hit ball and struck out four Phillies batters to extend the bullpen success despite the flailing start.
“He’s been throwing the whole time,” Baker said on the lack of action Urquidy has seen on the mound. “He’s thrown simulated games, he’s thrown bullpens, and he’s remained ready. That was what we needed, so I didn’t have to tear up my whole bullpen for the next couple days.”
The World Series will return to Citizens Bank Park for Game 4 on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, with a 8:03 EST start time.
The Astros will hand their faith to Cristian Javier, who has been successful thus far in his Postseason performances with a total of 6.2 innings through three appearances that have awarded him a win and a 1.35 ERA. It will be Javier’s first World Series start, but his fourth World Series appearance after entering the 2021 World Series three times against the Atlanta Braves (1-0, three innings, four hits, four runs/earned runs, six strikeouts, three home runs and a 12.00 World Series ERA). While the Phillies ask Game 1 starter Aaron Nola to start after four days rest in hopes of putting up a better outing after being rocked around in the Phillies’ 6-5 win in Houston.
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