Phillies at Citizens Bank Park for Game 3 World Series


PHILADELPHIA — Monday could be fun.

It is Game 3 of the World Series. It is Halloween. Phillies fans, the World Series and Halloween on the same night? It could be crazy at Citizens Bank Park. But then, Phillies fans have been losing their minds since Rhys Hoskins spiked his bat after smashing a three-run home run in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

In best-of-seven postseason series that is tied at 1-1, the Game 3 winner has won the series 68 of 98 times (69%).

Here are three keys for the Phillies to take command of this series in Philadelphia:

1. Thor and Ranger
The Phillies were thrilled to win the NLCS in five games because it allowed them to start Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler in Games 1 and 2 of the World Series, but then they allowed a combined 10 runs (nine earned) in 9 1/3 innings. The Phillies will need Noah Syndergaard and Ranger Suárez to pitch much more competitively, which is something to say considering Syndergaard has pitched only 1 1/3 innings since his start Oct. 15, and Suárez has not started since Game 3 of the NLCS on Oct. 21.

What does competitive look like? Well, in the case of Syndergaard, three scoreless innings in Game 3 would be fantastic. He allowed one run in three innings in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Braves on Oct. 15. It was a huge performance in the series-clinching game. The Phillies would take that, too.

In the case of Suárez, five innings in Game 4 would be a blessing. Suárez pitched in relief Friday in Game 1 of the World Series, so it is unclear how many pitches or innings he can go Tuesday. He pitched 3 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the NLDS on Oct. 11 and five innings in Game 3 of the NLCS on Oct. 21.

If the Phillies can win one or possibly both of those games, then they’ll turn to Nola in Game 5 and Wheeler in Game 6, if necessary.

They hope for much better results next time.

2. Keep pressing the right buttons
Phillies manager Rob Thomson has been making the right moves throughout the postseason. Sometimes he makes them by doing nothing (i.e. not moving Kyle Schwarber or Hoskins out of the 1-2 spots, despite pleas from fans after the first four postseason games). Thomson has done a fantastic job using his bullpen. It could be pushing left-hander José Alvarado and right-hander Seranthony Domínguez for extra outs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, or getting uber-aggressive and using Alvarado in the fifth inning and Suárez in the seventh inning in Game 1 of the World Series.

Syndergaard and Suárez are unlikely to pitch deep into Games 3 and 4, so it will be more important than ever for Thomson and pitching coach Caleb Cotham to choose the right pitchers for the right spots and then have those pitchers perform as needed.

3. Keep the crowd in it
This is no disrespect to St. Louis, Atlanta, San Diego and Houston, but crowds in those ballparks have been tame compared to Citizens Bank Park this month. The Phillies are 21-9 (.700) in the postseason at the Bank. It is the best home record in the postseason for any team in any park (minimum 20 games). It is better than the Mets at Shea Stadium (26-13, .667) and the Cardinals at Busch Stadium II (35-18, .660).

So how do the Phillies keep the crowd in it? First, don’t let the Astros take a sizable early lead and hold onto it. (The Phillies started to chip away at their 5-0 deficit in Game 1 in the fourth inning.) A big hit or two early can rile up the crowd. A bomb from Bryce Harper, Schwarber, Hoskins (or anybody really) would take the edge off.

The Phillies’ home-field advantage is a real thing. A Braves player told Hoskins in the NLDS that he had never seen the Bank like that before. Back in the 2008 World Series, Jayson Werth told a similar story about a Tampa Bay player. Werth said he knew then that the Rays were cooked.

Philly was in their heads.

“Philly is coming,” Nick Castellanos said.



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