FOX Sports MLB Analyst
The Philadelphia Phillies embraced the energy their home crowd brought in Game 3. Can the Houston Astros match?
The Phillies hit a five-game home run off Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. to go 7-0 on Tuesday to take a 2-1 lead, putting them just two wins away from winning the World Series.
Now, the Astros must win one game to ensure the series returns to Houston for a Game 6. They will have Cristian Javier take the mound as they look to avoid missing a World Series for the second straight season while the Phillies start one of their teammates, Aaron Nola, as they hope to move just one win away from a title.
Here are Ben Verlander’s keys to victory for each team in Wednesday’s Game 4, which starts at 8:03 p.m. ET on FOX.
1. Cristian Javier continues to dominate
While he may not be their ace, Javier may be the Astros’ best option to start as they look to improve the lineup. The right-hander has a 1.35 ERA with a 0.75 WHIP and seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings pitched this postseason, including 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS.
Javier was good after October 2022. In his postseason career, Javier is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings (13 appearances with one start). He has been good as a starter this season as well. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a game since July 6 (16 innings, 14 starts) and went 5-4 with a 1.79 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 70.1 innings (13 innings, 12 starts) from the All-Star break through the end of the regular season.
2. Go to Aaron Nola early like they did in Game 1
In Game 1, the Astros did not give a warm welcome to the Nola World Series. They scored five times against him in the first three innings to take a 5-0 lead. However, their dominance against Nola has set a worrying trend in the first three games. All 10 of the Astros’ runs in this World Series have come against Phillies starters (Nola and Zack Wheeler). The Astros are scoreless so far in 12 2/3 innings against the Phillies. They also haven’t scored a run past the fifth inning in this series.
1. Aaron Nola gets a clean first six outs
This postseason, the Phillies are a dominant 8-1 when holding the opposition scoreless through the first two innings and are just 3-2 when allowing the opponent to score through the first two innings. Nola has typically been solid through the first two frames this season, posting a 1.41 ERA in the first inning and a 1.69 ERA in the second inning during the regular season.
2. Don’t change your hitting approach
The Phillies’ five home runs in Game 3 tied a World Series record and they have the talent to keep it going. Philly, which finished the regular season with the sixth most home runs (205) in MLB, has either matched or outscored its opponents in every series this postseason. That includes outscoring the Padres 10-6 in the NLCS and outscoring the Astros 6-3 in the first three games of the World Series. The Phillies’ 22 home runs this postseason are tied for the 12th most in a single postseason in MLB history.
Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins hit back-to-back games
Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins hit back-to-back home runs to give the Phillies a 7-0 lead against the Astros.
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