HOUSTON — It was to be expected. We all knew going into Houston wasn’t going to be easy, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
After Aaron Nola’s gem in Game 2 to tie the series, all of the nerves that took over this young team in Game 1 seemed to be gone. Manny Machado’s two-run home run at the top of the first to silence the Houston crowd definitely helped. So did the double-play tandem of Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford which got Carlos Carrasco out of trouble not once but twice. And Odubel Herrera’s bases-clearing triple to put the Phils back up 6-5 at the top of the sixth inning.
Through the first seven, the confidence and swagger that got the Phils here was evident. And while it wasn’t his best outing, Carrasco kept the team in it and went seven. The bullpen was rested and ready to go. Or so we thought.
Victor Arano was the first to be called out of the pen. After Jose Altuve flew out to Mike Trout to start the eighth, Arano quickly loaded the bases. Gabe Kapler went to lefty specialist Adam Morgan to face Derek Fisher and Justin Smoak. Morgan got Fisher to chase a changeup for two outs.
Smoak came to the plate looking for his first hit of the series. Boy, did he make it count. He drilled a fastball down the right field line to clear the bases and give the Astros the 8-6 lead. To put salt in the wound, Ken Giles shut down the heart of the Phils lineup 1-2-3 to close it out.
Again, let’s try not to overreact. We knew the Phillies would lose at least one in Houston. But this one was rough.
This game was the exact reason the Phillies signed Carrasco last season. It was clear the Phils needed another veteran arm to get them over the hump but it looks like it’s going to be up to the 23-year-old Sixto Sanchez tomorrow to send the series back to Philly.