Harper, Phillies tie World Series mark with 5 HR, top Astros

Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA – Bryce Harper hammered his sixth postseason home run, whispered an assist to Alec Bohm before his solo shot and the Philadelphia Phillies tied a World Series record with five homers to rout the Houston Astros 7-0 Tuesday night and take a 2-1 Series lead.

Brandon Marsh also homered, and Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins hit back-to-back shots in the fifth inning to chase Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. Philadelphia used the long ball to end the long wait for its first World Series home win since Game 5 of the 2009 World Series.

Those Phillies couldn’t finish the job.

Ranger Suarez tossed three-hit ball over five shutout innings and inched this year’s team closer to getting it done.

Harper, Bohm, Marsh and the rest of the Phillies on the last team to qualify for the playoffs are two wins away from ending the season as the last team standing. With a sparkling 6-0 record at Citizens Bank Park this postseason, the Phillies just may not return to Texas.

“It’s our fan base. I mean, plain and simple.” Harper said. “They keep us going, keep us fired up.”

Another red, raucous, resolute crowd of 45,712 let the Astros have it from the first pitch with chants of “Cheater! Cheater!” for Jose Altuve and “Check the Bat! Check the Bat!” for Martin Maldonado.

The fans – already amped from the jump after another sliding catch by right fielder Nick Castellanos in the first – didn’t wait long to go wild for the home run barrage.

With leadoff hitter Schwarber on first base, Harper repeated his flair for playoff power when he ripped a two-run shot off McCullers into the right field seats for the fast lead. That made Harper 2 for 2 on home run swings in Philly – he sent the Phillies to the World Series with a two-run drive in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series to beat San Diego.

Harper crossed the plate and again exclaimed “This is my house!” before he ripped off his helmet, exposed his Phillie Phanatic headband and was mobbed by teammates in the dugout.

Harper’s homers shake the stadium to the point they should be measured on the Richter scale rather in feet – and they seem as automatic these days as a Phillie Phanatic spin on his ATV. Harper has hit four postseason homers that gave the Phillies the lead and showed that, yes, Bryce Bombs do go off in November, the first time more World Series games will be played in this month than October.

Oh, and Harper might have a second career as a homer whisperer.

Harper beckoned Bohm from the on-deck circle and back to the dugout for a quick word of advice.

Maybe Harper saw McCullers tipping his pitches?

“I think that’s just general conversation,” Harper said. “Trying to get as much information as we can from each other. We just tried to have the best at-bats we could.”

Whatever the quiet counseling was, it worked, and Bohm lined his first postseason homer leading off the second inning and the 1,000th in World Series history into the left field seats for 3-0 lead.

So c’mon, Alec, fess up, what did Bryce tell you?

“That’s between us,” Bohm said on TV with a shrug and a big smile.

Marsh took the baton on the long-ball relay and knocked one into the right field seats that was dropped by a young kid from Delaware. The home run stood after a brief review – as it seems nothing can interfere with Philadelphia’s playoff push – and it was 4-0.

With that, McCullers had allowed four homers to his first nine batters. The right-hander who got his left triceps inked with nods to Houston got absolutely tattooed by the Phillies.

Schwarber, the NL home run champion, again dumped a two-run shot into a thicket of English ivy, Arborvitae and Holly beyond center field, and Hoskins connected on solo shot for a 7-0 lead that ended McCullers’ night.

McCullers became the first pitcher to give up five home runs in a World Series game.

“We talked about it before the game, just trying to get on him early, trying to get on him often,” Harper said.

Suarez, the scheduled Game 4 starter before Game 3 was postponed a day by rain, delivered with the performance of his career and shut down the big bats in the AL champs’ lineup.

He needed only two pitches to get the first two outs of the game and struck out Yordan Alvarez to end the first. The few jams he got into, Suarez worked his way out, notably in the second when he whiffed Chas McCormick and left two runners stranded. He retired Altuve to end the fifth on a soft foul pop with two runners on base.

Four relievers each tossed a scoreless inning to finish the five-hitter.

THE CHAMPS ARE HERE

Philly sports champions Mike Schmidt, Julius Erving, Brandon Graham and Bernie Parent threw first pitches to 2008 World Series champions Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. Country music star Tim McGraw, son of the late Phillies reliever Tug McGraw, received a huge ovation and wore his dad’s No. 45 McGraw jersey. McGraw closed the 1980 World Series with a strikeout.

UP NEXT

The Phillies send RHP Aaron Nola (2-1, 4.57 ERA in the postseason) to the mound against Houston RHP Christian Javier (1-0, 1.35 ERA) in Game 4. Nola was done after 4 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the World Series, though he retired the final six batters he faced and left in a tie game after the Phillies rallied from an early 5-0 deficit – and won 6-5.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.