What Houston must do to consolidate his favoritism in the SM

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies took home-field advantage from the Astros in the World Series after splitting the first two games of the series at Minute Maid Park Friday and Saturday. That forces the Astros to win at least one of the next three games in what is expected to be pandemonium at Citizens Bank Park if they want to bring the Fall Classic back to Houston, starting with Game 3 on Monday.

Since the Astros began their historic journey of six straight trips to the American League Championship Series in 2017 — they’ve won four pennants and a World Series in that span — they’ve taken 22 postseason games on the road, seven more than any other team. These guys know how to fight far from home.

The Phillies are 21-9 (.700) in the postseason at home. It’s the best postseason home record for any team at any park (minimum 20 games). They have won all five of their home runs this year in the playoffs, dominating their opponents by a margin of 35 runs to 15, with 12 home runs hit to six received.

In postseason series with the current 2-3-2 formation, teams that split the first two games at home have ended up winning the series 47 of 86 times (55%). In all best-of-seven series tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 took the series 68 of 98 times (69%).

Here are three things the Astros need to do in Philly to turn the series in their favor:

1. Take advantage of the fact that they have better pitching

The depth of their pitching staff has been one of the Astros’ strengths throughout the postseason and now is the time to show it. The Astros gave Justin Verlander (Game 1) and Framber Valdez (Game 2) five-run leads to start the World Series, but Verlander couldn’t save his. They will now hand the ball to right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., a postseason veteran, who will face Noah Syndergaard in Game 3. The Astros should have the upper hand here.

McCullers is one of the best big game starters in Astros history, going 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 18 career postseason games. His 11 playoff starts and 68 1/3 innings rank second in franchise history behind Verlander (17 starts in October, 104 1/3 innings). McCullers faced the Phillies on Oct. 3 in his final regular-round job, allowing one run on six hits with one walk in six innings.

Syndergaard, making his first World Series start since 2015, has gone over 35 pitches just once since mid-September, so Game 3 could force the Phillies to use their bullpen heavily in the first of three games. tracked in Philadelphia.

In Game 4, the Astros will likely once again have the lead in starting pitching, with Cristian Javier taking the mound against Ranger Suarez, whom the Astros punished for six runs in three innings on Game 4. october. Javier, with his “invisible” fastball and poisonous slider, might well have the best arsenal of all the starters on the Houston staff, and he has never faced the Phillies.

2. Hope that José Altuve stays on

After going scoreless in his first 25 postseason at-bats, Altuve appears to be coming off the slump. connected three hits in Game 2 victory and is 7-for-16 after one of the worst slumps of his career.

Altuve strikes a spark at the front of the lineup, something that was clearly on display in Game 2 when he doubled off the first pitch and then watched as Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez followed with doubles of their own. All three scored and the Astros would never lose that lead.

“Obviously at the beginning of the playoffs I was swinging everything and then I’ve been getting better little by little swinging my pitching,” Altuve said.

Altuve is one of the most decisive players in the postseason in the history of the Major Leagues, with 23 home runs in that instance – second of all time – and 99 hits, only behind Derek Jeter (200), the Puerto Rican Bernie Williams ( 128), Dominican Manny Ramirez (117) and Puerto Ricans Jorge Posada (103) and Yadier Molina (102).

3. Continue to keep Schwarber and Harper at bay

The Astros have done a very good job so far controlling the Phillies’ two powerful lefties, Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper (although Schwarber was twice within inches of hitting a home run in the eighth inning of Game 2).

Harper, the NLCS MVP, went 0-for-4 in Game 2 and is 2-for-8 in this series with no extra-base hits or RBIs. Schwarber is 2-for-7 in the series with no extra-base hits or RBIs. Between the regular round and the postseason, McCullers limited lefties to a .556 OPS this year (.170/.301/.255) with one homer in 113 plate appearances. Javier has also been effective against lefties, who are hitting .184/.270/.311 against him.

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What Houston must do to consolidate his favoritism in the SM