No telling how well Philadelphia pitcher Noah Syndergaard will do in Game 3 of the World Series. Or whether Astros dynamo Jose Altuve will deliver another three hits.
But there will be one sure thing at Citizens Bank Park on Monday when the World Series resumes with the teams tied at 1-all: The Phillie Phanatic will put on quite a show on Halloween night.
The fuzzy, green Phillies mascot is always a fan favorite, and is set to entertain the crowd at the first World Series game in Philly since 2009.
After going 47-34 at the Bank this season — good, not great compared with several top teams — the Phillies became monster mashers at home in playoffs.
Philadelphia went 5-0 at home in eliminating defending World Series champion Atlanta and San Diego in the playoffs, outscoring them by a total of 35-15.
Syndergaard will start against Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr.
“I have not been shy as far as just being open to pitching on the road. I think it’s really cool to pitch on the road in the postseason. I think it’s when you get to experience the most raw and real atmospheres in all the game,” McCullers said.
SERIES SCHEDULE (All times ET)
Game 3: Monday in Philadelphia, 8:03 p.m., FOX
Game 4: Tuesday in Philadelphia, 8:03 p.m., FOX
Game 5: Wednesday in Philadelphia, 8:03 p.m., FOX
Game 6 (if necessary): Friday in Houston, 8:03 p.m., FOX
Game 7 (if necessary): Saturday in Houston, 8:03 p.m., FOX
WEATHER OR NOT
Showers are likely for Monday night, according to the National Weather Service, which estimated the chance of precipitation at 70%. The gametime temperature was forecast to be about 61 degrees.
In the 2008 World Series, Philadelphia had a 3-1 lead going into Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park. The Rays tied the score at 2 in the sixth inning on Oct. 27 when play was suspended with the Phillies about to bat. The game began in light rain, but showers turned to a steady downpour and the field became a quagmire.
The Rays had to relocate to a hotel in Delaware because their room block only was reserved through that afternoon. Rain and snow showers didn’t let up the next day and play resumed on Oct. 29 after a 46-hour suspension. “God Bless America” was sung rather than “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
With fans bundled in parkas and blankets, Jayson Werth hit a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth, Rocco Baldelli tied the score with a seventh-inning homer off Ryan Madson and Pedro Feliz hit an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh. The Phillies held on to win 4-3 for their second Series title and first since 1980.
A PERFECT PLATE
Alex Bregman, Zack Wheeler and Yordan Alvarez were among those on the field who got attention in Game 2. Pat Hoberg wasn’t — and for an umpire, that’s always a good thing.
Hoberg called balls and strikes in Houston’s 5-2 win Saturday night and delivered a perfect plate performance, going 129 for 129 on taken pitches, according to the web site umpscorecards.com. The site tracks every pitch of the season and uses advanced methods to analyze them.
Hoberg is 36 and joined the full-time umpiring staff in 2017. It would usually take an ump much longer to get such a plumb World Series assignment, but he ranked as the best pitch caller in the majors this year among umps with at least 30 games behind the plate. Umpscorecards said he had a 95.4% accuracy rate going into his first World Series.
NOT RUBBED THE WRONG WAY
Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson says he isn’t concerned about Framber Valdez’s unusual hand rubbing during Game 2, downplaying speculation on social media that the left-hander was up to something fishy.
Major League Baseball on Sunday there was nothing to report, either.
Videos circulating on the internet showed Valdez repeatedly rubbing his left thumb across his right palm, then rubbing the ball between pitches. Valdez pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning of the Astros’ 5-2 victory, which evened the Series at a win each.
Thomson said Philadelphia’s dugout noticed what Valdez was doing but had no concern that he was adding a foreign substance to the ball.
“Yeah, we did… it’s all over Twitter,” he said. “The umpires check these guys after almost every inning, and if there’s something going on, MLB will take care of it.”
THERE HE IS
For the first time in a sluggish postseason, Jose Altuve looked like himself in Game 2 of the World Series.
Altuve led off the game with a rally-sparking double, singled in the fifth, then showed off his preternatural bat-to-ball skills in the seventh, slashing at a fastball thrown forehead-high for another single.
The last one had the 5-foot-6 sparkplug chuckling after reaching first base. Houston was happy to see that smile.
The 2017 AL MVP had been curiously quiet this month, opening the playoffs with a career-worst 0-for-25 slump and entering Game 2 a paltry 4 for 37 this postseason.
“Boy, it was great to see,” manager Dusty Baker said.
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