Phillies

Best of MLB: Giancarlo Stanton homers twice to reach 59 in Marlins' win

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Best of MLB: Giancarlo Stanton homers twice to reach 59 in Marlins' win

MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton homered twice to become the first player to hit 59 in a season since 2001, and the Miami Marlins opened the last series of Jeffrey Loria's tenure as owner by beating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Thursday night.

Stanton hit a solo home run in the fourth, then added a two-run drive in the eighth that would have gone 467 feet unimpeded, according to MLB's Statcast.

He has 33 home runs since the All-Star break and 10 multihomer games this season. He became the sixth player to reach 59, joining Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth.

Ichiro Suzuki got his 27th pinch hit of the year, one shy of the record John Vander Wal set in 1995.

Dee Gordon got two hits for the Marlins, who despite a 75-84 record assured themselves of second place in the NL East, their highest finish since 2009 (see full recap).

Astros pound Red Sox to keep Boston from clinching
BOSTON -- Major league batting leader Jose Altuve had three of Houston's 17 hits, Carlos Correa had four and the Astros chased Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez in the second inning to win 12-2 on Thursday night and keep Boston from clinching the first back-to-back AL East championships in franchise history.

Despite the loss, the Red Sox were guaranteed no worse than a tie for the division title when the Yankees lost 9-6 to Tampa Bay.

Boston needs one more win or Yankees loss to win the division; otherwise, the teams would meet in a one-game tie-breaker in New York on Monday to see who needs to play in the wild-card game and who advances to the AL Division Series -- likely facing the Astros.

Altuve had two singles and his 39th double to raise his batting average to .350. Brad Peacock (13-2) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, striking out two and walking one for the AL West champion Astros (see full recap).

Brewers inch closer to Rockies for 2nd wild card
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers closed within two games of Colorado for the National League's second wild card with three games left, rallying to beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 Thursday as Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning.

Milwaukee (84-75) closes the regular season at St. Louis, and the Rockies host the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers are assured of their best record since finishing 96-66 in 2011, when they lost to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, Milwaukee's last playoff appearance.

After Cincinnati tied the score in the sixth on RBI singles by Scooter Gennett against Brent Suter and Jesse Winkler off Oliver Drake, Jared Hughes (5-3) entered with two on and the Reds loaded the bases when the reliever bobbled Jose Peraza's bunt for an error.

Hughes struck out Adam Duvall and got Stuart Turner to ground into a double play (see full recap).

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

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Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Roy Halladay had morphine in his system when the plane he was piloting crashed and he tragically died in November, according to Halladay's autopsy report, released Friday.

Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, and amphetamines were found in Halladay's system.

As TMZ points out via the Food and Drug Administration, the amount of Zolpidem found in Halladay's system (72 ng/ml) is more than enough to impair a driver and increase the risk of an accident.

Halladay had a blood alcohol content of 0.01, according to the autopsy report. 

The official cause of Halladay's death was blunt force trauma, with drowning a contributing factor.

More details can be found in this Tampa Bay Times report.

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

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Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

It's not clear whether the Phillies will add a starting pitcher before opening day, but surely they would like to.

General manager Matt Klentak “is busting his ass every single day looking for every possible opportunity to upgrade our team from every perspective,” manager Gabe Kapler said on Tuesday. “That includes looking at every option possible for the rotation.”

Klentak has kept a close eye on the trade market, but has found the prices (i.e., the young talent that must be surrendered) for top, controllable starters to be prohibitive.

He has kept a close eye on the free-agent market, but the length of contracts that top pitchers are looking for has given him pause.

For months, the Phillies have distanced themselves from speculation that has connected them to elite level free-agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

But with spring training less than a month away and both pitchers still unsigned, the Phillies would at least have to consider both pitchers if their asking prices experience a January thaw.

Six or seven years? No way.

Three years? Hmmm. Let's talk.

The Phillies are hosting a number of their young players this week. Rhys Hoskins, Jerad Eickhoff, Mark Leiter and Nick Williams were all in town on Tuesday.

Williams has set his sights on making the National League All-Star team in 2018.

“That's what I'm shooting for,” he said at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. “I think I had a pretty good year last year. I'm shooting for more now. I don't think being an All-Star is shooting too high.”

Williams, 24, hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 83 games, mostly in right field, with the big club as a rookie last season.

To give himself the best chance of surpassing those numbers — and achieving his goal of making the All-Star team — Williams has spent the offseason in Austin, Texas, working with personal trainer Jeremy Hills, a former University of Texas football player.

Williams is working hard on agility, which will help him in the outfield and on the base paths.

And guess who one of his daily workout partners is?

Free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta.

Back in Austin, between reps and protein shakes, Williams has occasionally talked up Philadelphia as a potential landing spot to Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner who will turn 32 in March.

“He loves it here,” Williams said of Arrieta, who, as a free agent and a Scott Boras client, is astute enough not to rule out any team, particularly one as deep-pocketed as the Phillies. “He has told me he likes working with young guys. I'm like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I'm not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I'm not really in his position.”

Williams smiled.

“I hope to be one day,” he said.

Williams marveled at Arrieta's work ethic in the gym.

And he expressed gratitude for the kindness and generosity Arrieta has showed him.

“He's bought a lot of my protein shakes,” Williams said.

Time will tell if the Phillies add a starting pitcher to the group that already consists of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and other youngsters. The hunch is they will, though it's unclear what the magnitude of that talent will be. Klentak's search for an arm likely won't stop with the addition of one pitcher and it will likely continue through July. And beyond. The quest to build a championship-caliber staff never stops.

“The pursuit is very real,” Kapler said of Klentak's search for pitching. “I have a lot of trust that we'll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”