Was it nothing? Bohm reveals untold story from World Series HR
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Alec Bohm wasn’t kidding.
He wasn’t being coy.
Bryce Harper truly told him nothing before he homered against Lance McCullers Jr. in Game 3 of the World Series. It has been one of the few untold stories from the Phillies’ 2022 postseason run. You remember. Before Bohm stepped into the batter’s box to face McCullers in the bottom of the second inning at Citizens Bank Park, Harper and Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long called Bohm back to the dugout. Bohm leaned in. Harper covered his mouth as he spoke. Bohm nodded repeatedly.
Bohm stepped back into the batter’s box and crushed a first-pitch sinker for a home run. The Phillies won, 7-0.
Afterward, everybody wondered what Harper said.
“Nothing,” Bohm said then, smiling.
Did it help?
“Maybe,” Bohm said.
“Any time you have information you want to give that to your teammates,” Harper said, playing along.
OK, so now that more than three months have passed, what was said?
“Nothing,” Bohm said Monday afternoon at BayCare Ballpark.
“Nothing,” Bohm repeated. “We were just messing with him.”
“Bryce didn’t say anything,” Bohm said. “I just happened to hit a homer. [Harper and Long] were yelling at me for a while. I came over and Bryce said, ‘Just stand here for a second.’ The Astros are pretty thorough, so we just gave them something to think about. It was just a little gamesmanship, a little chess match. Obviously, we won that game, but lost the series, so …”
Bohm explained what happened in the at-bat.
“To be honest with you, we faced [McCullers] at the very end of the season,” Bohm said. “I thought I knew what pitch I was getting first-pitch from him for two weeks. I was taking a chance. I know this guy throws [less than] 80 percent [offspeed], but I think he’s going to throw me a first-pitch sinker. He threw a sinker. You would have thought that we knew he was tipping [his pitches] because who goes up and ambushes a sinker on McCullers? I kept telling Kevin, he’s throwing me a sinker. Slider, slider, slider, but I hit that pitch well. He’s throwing me a sinker. And that’s what he did. I sat slider the whole time we faced him in the regular season. It didn’t work well.”
Bohm faced McCullers twice on Oct. 3, when the Phillies clinched a National League Wild Card spot. McCullers threw Bohm a first-pitch sinker in his first at-bat. He threw him a first-pitch changeup in his second.
He saw four pitches: two sinkers, two changeups.
He went 0-for-2.
“The whole time [before Game 3] I just had this feeling that he’s throwing me a sinker,” Bohm said. “And if it’s a strike, I’m not missing it.”
McCullers threw a first-pitch sinker 34.2 percent of the time last year, including the postseason. That’s actually more than any other pitch. Against right-handed batters, McCullers threw a first-pitch sinker 56 percent of the time. Five of the nine homers McCullers allowed last season, including the postseason, happened against sinkers. Three came on the first pitch, including Kyle Schwarber’s homer on Oct. 3.
So maybe it was more than just a feeling, too.
Afterward, the Astros insisted that McCullers did not tip his pitches. They said the Phillies just clobbered bad ones.
They were right.
“If you look at the homers, they were middle balls,” Bohm said. “If he was tipping pitches, we didn’t know. I feel like those guys will play games with you. They’ll show you something different to make you think they’re doing something.”
So the Phillies returned the favor.
“It’s not like we have anything,” Bohm said. “So we’re not saving anything for next time.”