The 17 runs were great, but Aaron Nola's performance was even better

The 17 runs were great, but Aaron Nola's performance was even better


Citizens Bank Park rocked like the good ol' days of Jimmy, Chase and Ryan on Saturday night thanks to an offensive explosion that saw the home team score a club-record 12 runs in the first inning en route to a 17-3 victory over the Washington Nationals in front of a giddy crowd of 37,241.
But in the grand scheme, the Phillies' offensive deluge was really just a subplot to what mattered most.
Aaron Nola returned to the mound in a regular season game for the first time since going to the sidelines with an elbow injury July 28, 2016, and the right-hander, hugely important to this team in the present and future, put a lot of minds at ease with six strong innings of work.
"The big story for me was Nola," manager Pete Mackanin said. "I think he needed a good performance for his own confidence and I saw a lot of what we’re looking for out of him."
Nola commanded his pitches down in the zone and had some of that old tail on his two-seam fastball. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out seven.
Nola got a nice lift from third baseman Maikel Franco, who turned a nifty 5-3 double play to get the pitcher out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning. The Phillies' bats then went crazy against Jeremy Guthrie in the bottom of the inning and Nola took a 12-0 lead to the mound in the second inning. He responded by striking out the side.
"I felt really good with my pitches tonight (and) pretty much with my command," Nola said. "I missed (his spots) with a couple of pitches that got hit and they scored some runs. But my body felt great. It just felt great to get back out at Citizens Bank again.

"I'm healthy. I know a lot of people are wondering, or have been wondering, or are still wondering, but I'm healthy. And I feel great. I just want to stay healthy and maintain that for the remainder of the year."
Nola was also part of the Phillies' offensive onslaught. He had one of the team's 15 hits, drew a walk and scored two runs, one of which came in the biggest first inning in team history.
"Any time you score runs like that it’s going to be giddy and electric," Nola said. "It was fun. The dugout was fun."
Howie Kendrick, Michael Saunders and Tommy Joseph all had two hits in the first inning. Kendrick had a bases-loaded triple in the inning. Saunders finished the night with a single, double and triple. Cam Rupp and Andres Blanco both homered in the game.
Joseph came into the game 0 for 13 on the young season. Both of his hits in the first inning drove in runs. Blanco playfully left two game balls, dated and marked with Hit 1 and Hit 2, in Joseph's locker after the game.
"It was kind of incredible," Joseph said of the first inning. "Just one of those things that kept going and going and escalated. It was really fun to be a part of. Even Nola was a part of it, too, which was pretty awesome. It was a lot of fun to see what we were able to do."
It was not fun for Guthrie. His 38th birthday got off to a good start when he was summoned from the minors to make the spot start for Washington. It went downhill shortly after taking the mound. He faced 12 batters in the first inning and only got two outs. He allowed 10 base runners and 10 runs.
Guthrie has pitched 12 seasons in the majors, but spent all of last season in the minors and went to spring training as a non-roster player with Washington. It's not unreasonable to wonder if he'll ever pitch in the majors again.
"It's just a huge disappointment to put that kind of effort forward," Guthrie said. "Warming up, I had every anticipation that today would be a good day on the mound, and it just wasn't.
"I didn't locate early, and the first couple guys got hits. And after that, finding the strike zone seemed like a real struggle. When I found it, it was more of the zone than it was an actual location. And the stuff wasn't crisp. I always knew I was one pitch away, but that one pitch just never came."
The Phillies' big first inning came after they scored six unanswered runs after being down 7-0 in Friday's series opener.
"Honestly, I think it's a testament to what we did yesterday being down seven runs and coming back," Saunders said. "We didn't win the game but getting within one swing of the bat and getting to their bullpen and carrying that momentum into today was big."
The assignment will be a lot more difficult for the Phillies when they face Stephen Strasburg in the series finale Sunday afternoon.
Maybe the Phillies should have eased up Saturday night and saved a few runs.
"No," Saunders said. "You're never content."

Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

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Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

The Phillies added four promising pitching prospects to their 40-man roster on Monday. In a corresponding move, they subtracted a notable name.

Right-handers Franklyn Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Taveras and lefty Ranger Suarez were all added to the roster, protecting them from being selected by another club in next month's Rule 5 draft.

The Phillies also added an infielder, Engelb Vielma, to the roster. He was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.

To make room for these additions, the team needed to clear three spots on its roster, which had been at 38. Left-handed pitcher Elniery Garcia cleared waivers and was sent outright to the minor leagues while right-handers Alberto Tirado and Mark Appel were designated for assignment. The Phillies will try to trade Tirado and Appel before placing them on waivers. If they clear waivers, they could stay in the system.

The Phillies cut Appel loose after he'd struggled with injury and ineffectiveness during two seasons in the organization. The 26-year-old right-hander from Stanford University had twice been a first-round draft pick, by Pittsburgh in 2012 and by Houston — No. 1 overall — in 2013. The Phillies acquired him from the Astros as part of the package for Ken Giles in December 2015, but he never lived up to his huge potential.

"A lot of the tools that Mark showed as an amateur that led to him being the No. 1 overall pick are still there," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "He has simply struggled with performance. It's certainly not for lack of effort on his part. We think the world of the kid and wish him well. It was a tough decision."

Tirado, 22, was acquired from Toronto in July 2015 as part of the return for Ben Revere. He arrived with a fastball that could reach triple digits on the radar gun and that promise earned him a spot on the 40-man a year ago. Tirado suffered a shoulder injury early last season and struggled in the minors.

All four of the pitchers that the Phillies protected are products of the team's international scouting department. Taveras, 24, was a standout at three levels in the minors last season and could be in the picture in Philadelphia in 2018. He led the system in strikeouts in 2016 and 2017.

"He knows how to get guys out and often times that comes via the strikeout," Klentak said. "No matter where he pitches, he rises to the occasion and puts up a strong performance."

Kilome, 22, and Dominguez, 22, are both power arms who project to see significant time at Double A in 2018. Suarez, 22, should also get to Double A at some point in 2018. He had a 2.27 ERA in 22 starts at two levels of Single A ball in 2017.

"He may have been the breakout pitcher of the year for the Phillies," Klentak said. "We'd always heard a lot about him and this year he took his performance to another level.

"We're really excited for all four of these guys. All have worked extremely hard and they are all deserving of being added to our roster. Our international scouting operation, Sal Agostinelli and his group, continues to crank out players. They've done a great job. These four pitchers have earned this through their work ethic and performance. By no means is this the ultimate goal for them, but it's one step closer. We believe really strongly in the futures of these four pitchers."

Vielma, 23, is a top defensive shortstop who can also play second and third base. He was waived by Minnesota in September and claimed by the Giants, who let him go in a roster crunch.

"He's an intriguing claim," Klentak said. "He adds depth to our infield."

The Phillies’ roster is at 40. The team will have to clear space if it wants to add a player in next month's Rule 5 draft. Last November, the Phils added 11 players to the 40-man roster and still lost lefty reliever Hoby Milner to Cleveland. Milner failed to make the Indians' opening-day roster, returned to the organization in March and ended up making 37 appearances for the big club after coming up in late June. He was one of 12 rookies to make their big-league debut with the Phillies in 2017.

Notable players who were not protected include outfielders Carlos Tocci and Andrew Pullin and pitcher Brandon Leibrandt.

"One of the byproducts of a strong system is every year there are some tough omissions," Klentak said. "There are always tough calls. But we look at that as a good problem to have."

New details emerge in investigation into Roy Halladay's death

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New details emerge in investigation into Roy Halladay's death

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Retired star pitcher Roy Halladay sped his small sports plane low over the Gulf of Mexico minutes before his fatal crash two weeks ago, climbing sharply in the final seconds before diving into the water, federal investigators said in a preliminary report released Monday.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Noreen Price placed no blame for the Nov. 7 accident near Tampa, simply laying out the facts as gleaned from the plane's data recorder and eyewitnesses. A final report with conclusions could take one to two years.

Price says Halladay, 40, had taken off from a lake near his Tampa-area home about 17 minutes before the crash, taking his ICON A5 to 1,900 feet (580 meters) before dropping to 600 feet (180 meters) as he neared the coastline. He then dropped to 36 feet (11 meters) when he reached the water. While flying at about 105 mph (170 kph), Halladay skimmed the water at 11 feet (3.3 meters), flying in a circle before climbing to 100 feet (30 meters), the plane's data showed.

A witness told investigators the plane climbed to between 300 and 500 feet (95 to 150 meters) when it turned and went into a 45-degree dive. It slammed into the water and flipped.

Halladay's body was found with the plane, which was severely damaged. The plane itself was equipped with a parachute, but it was not deployed.

The former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies star had received the plane from ICON on Oct. 10, and was one of the first to receive the model. In one of many enthusiastic tweets about the plane, Halladay said it felt "like flying a fighter jet." He had about 700 hours of flight time after getting his license in 2013, the report says. He had 51 hours in ICON A5s, including 14 in the plane that crashed.

Rolled out in 2014, the A5 is an amphibious aircraft meant to be treated like an ATV, a piece of weekend recreational gear with folding wings that can easily be towed on a trailer to a lake where it can take off from the water.

The man who led the plane's design, 55-year-old John Murray Karkow, died while flying an A5 over California's Lake Berryessa on May 8, a crash the NTSB attributed to pilot error.

Another A5 crashed in April, making a hard landing in the water off Key Largo, Florida, injuring the pilot and his passenger. The pilot told investigators the plane descended faster than he expected.

Halladay, an eight-time All-Star, pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter in 2010. He played for the Blue Jays from 1998 to 2009 and for the Phillies from 2009-13, going 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA.