Just over a week ago, Lance McCullers Jr. stood in the middle of a party inside Yankee Stadium, with loud musicians drinking various ALCS trophy beers and other players dancing while holding brooms to signify a dominating sweep of the Yankees.
For McCullers, it was sort of validation that the Astros could make a fourth World Series and make their final appearance after moving past their 2017 cheating scandal that was uncovered in the weeks following their loss in seven. games against the Washington Nationals in a fluky series where the home team lost every time.
“A lot of things have transpired over the past few years,” he said after midnight on October 24. “A lot of things have been said, but there’s not much left to say man. We keep coming here. We keep going against the best of the best and we keep winning. When it all happened a few years ago, we knew the only thing we could do was win, and we could win and win a lot. I understand that people are still not going to like us. They’re going to boo us but at some point you have to respect what you’re doing.”
Maybe now you have to respect what the Phillies are doing, especially when they created a haphazard situation by hitting five homers against McCullers in Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday.
McCullers is the answer to the trivial question of who threw 24 straight pitches to beat the Yankees in Game 7 in 2017. Now he’s the answer to the question of who is the first pitcher to allow five home runs in a game of the World Series. and the first to do so in any postseason game.
McCullers allowed a two-run homer to Bryce Harper, who as he continues this run, it’s fair to wonder why the Yankees didn’t sign him. Then he allowed solo homers to Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh before allowing a two-run drive to Kyle Schwarber and a solo homer to Rhys Hoskins.
That added up to 1,950 homers for a pitcher who allowed 57 homers in 718 2/3 regular season innings and 10 homers in 68 1/3 postseason innings before wringing his neck five times in the Game 3. This also led to speculation of pitch tipping, something which in Yankees history appeared to occur in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series with Andy Pettitte and in Game 3 of the 2018 ALDS with Luis Severino in games where the Yankees lost by a combined 31-3 margin.
“I think anytime you have information, you want to be able to give it to your teammates at any time,” Harper said in an attempt to downplay the notion of tipping. “So at any time I can help my teammates. Throughout the season we have done this.
As for Bohm, if he received advice from Harper, he did not reveal anything.
When asked directly what Harper told you, Bohm replied, “Nothing.” Then asked what Bryce told you in your batting assist, Bohm replied: “Maybe”
Either way, it added an extra layer of intrigue even when internet investigators tried to figure it out after McCullers broke the previous dubious distinction of allowing four home runs in a World Series game and denied any tendency to topple over.
“It has nothing to do with tipping,” McCullers told reporters. “Obviously they had a good game plan against me and they executed better than me.”
The first instance was Charlie Root allowing two each to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field in a notable game where Ruth may or may not have called one of his home runs as possible compensation for the bench jockey. Then it happened when Cincinnati’s Gene Thompson served home runs
Overall, there are 130 instances of a pitcher allowing five home runs in any game and it actually happened eight times during the regular season, with the most notable instance being Gerrit Cole on the 9th. June at Minnesota when he allowed five in 2 1/3 innings in a season he led the American League with 33 homers allowed.
Other notable names to join the club of five home runs allowed include David Price, whose struggles against the Yankees included the night of July 1, 2018 when he allowed two home runs to Aaron Hicks, who hit 27 during that season and ended up with a misfortune. contract extension in February 2019.
Even Zack Greinke allowed five home runs when he served them in 4 2/3 innings in Los Angeles for Arizona on Sept. 5, 2016. Josh Beckett boasts a resume that includes a shutout in Game 6 of the World Series 2003 for the Marlins and a five-home run game he made on April 7, 2012 in Detroit at the start of Bobby Valentine’s forgettable era in Boston that came nearly three years after he made it the August 23, 2009 at Fenway against the Yankees.
Overall, the teams are 21-109 when a pitcher gives up five homers, with Cole being the most recent to pitch in a win. Notable names to get wins while allowing five home runs include Mike Mussina who did it in a 14-7 Orioles win over the Angels on July 1, 1994 and Ralph Branca, whose five-home run day ended produced in a complete game when the Dodgers defeated the Pirates 17-10 (nice football score) on June 25, 1949.
Of course, if the Astros win the World Series and if they get there with McCullers pitching well in Game 7 at Houston, the five homers will be a trivial answer.