Phillies

Hoby Milner's scoreless streak highlighting Philliies' improving bullpen

Hoby Milner's scoreless streak highlighting Philliies' improving bullpen

Hoby Milner didn’t know he was accumulating the Phillies’ longest streak of scoreless appearances in a decade until his girlfriend sent him a screen grab from a recent television broadcast.

“I didn’t notice because I’ve had some shaky outings in there where I’ve had bases-loaded, one out, two outs and it just doesn’t feel like I had a good outing,” the lefty sidearmer said Sunday prior to the series finale vs. the Athletics. “I just got out of it without giving up a run. There’s some luck involved.”

Milner’s steak reached 20 appearances when he got two outs and walked one while pitching the sixth inning of Saturday night’s 5-3 win over Oakland. Milner last allowed a run when he was charged with two against Atlanta on July 29, spanning 16 1/3 innings entering Sunday’s game.

It’s the longest streak since J.C. Romero had 35 straight scoreless outings in 2007.

“A lot of the times, though, I come in and maybe get the first two outs and, like (Saturday) night, and it’s up to someone else to make sure he doesn’t score,” Milner said. “I’ve been lucky that most of my outings have been late and close and we’ve got Luis (Garcia) or (Hector) Neris coming after me and they just shut it down and I get off the hook.”

The skinny 26-year-old was a seventh-round pick of the Phillies in 2012 after playing college ball at Texas. The team decided his deceptive delivery was better for the bullpen and he became a full-time reliever in 2015.

Milner made his major-league debut June 24. Far from a finished product, he’s allowed 28 hits, including two home runs, while walking 11 and hitting four batters over his first 26 innings. But he’s struck out 16 in 30 appearances and held a 1.73 ERA.

His most impressive stat: lefties were batting .081 (3 for 37) during the scoreless streak.

Milner’s emergence is part of a trend. A group of mostly young Phillies relievers has impressed in the second half of the season.

“(Adam) Morgan has improved immensely and Hoby Milner has really established himself as a pretty good situational lefty. And he gets righties out for the most part,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “Garcia, huge step forward and outstanding. (Edubray) Ramos is pitching well. (Victor) Arano looks good and (Kevin) Siegrist, they’re all contributing. They’re all pitching very well and that’s the reason we’re improving."

The Phillies had a streak of 18 2/3 scoreless innings pitched by relievers snapped in the ninth inning Saturday when Neris gave up a solo homer to Jed Lowrie. But Neris has converted 25 straight saves, and since Aug. 27, Phillies relievers have a 2.04 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings.

“Once we got rid of (Joaquin) Benoit and (Pat) Neshek and those guys, I’m assuming the Phillies had no clue how the bullpen was going to shape up the rest of the year,” Milner said. “But if we can show we can get outs and we can put up zeros now, that’s less than they have to go out and get in the offseason. They can focus on bigger roles and not bullpen guys.”

MLB Playoffs: Jose Altuve blasts 3 HRs as Astros cruise past Red Sox

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MLB Playoffs: Jose Altuve blasts 3 HRs as Astros cruise past Red Sox

HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve had just arrived in the Astros dugout after launching his third home run of the game when George Springer grabbed his right biceps and examined it, as if searching for an explanation for his teammate's extraordinary pop.

"He makes sure he stays on top of his gym routine, whatever it is," Springer said. "The dude is just a joke."

The major league batting champion put on an unprecedented show of power Thursday as Houston roughed up Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox 8-2 in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.

Buoyed by chants of "MVP" in each trip to the plate, the 5-foot-6 Altuve hit solo homers in the first and fifth innings off Sale. He connected again in the seventh off reliever Austin Maddox to give Houston a quick boost in the best-of-five series.

"As soon as I cross the white line, I feel the same size as everyone else," Altuve said.

It was just the 10th time a player hit three homers in a postseason game, and first since Pablo Sandoval for the Giants in the 2012 World Series opener against Detroit. Babe Ruth did it twice (see full recap).

Bauer helps Indians blank Yankees in Game 1
CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer made Aaron Judge look silly, and made his manager look like a genius.

One year after nearly costing the Indians a trip to the World Series, Bauer helped them take the first step back.

Named a surprise starter for Game 1, Bauer chopped Judge and New York's other big bats down to size, and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as Cleveland began chasing its first World Series title in 69 years with a 4-0 win over the Yankees on the Thursday night in the opener of the AL Division Series.

Bauer struck out Judge three times , twice getting the MVP candidate looking. He allowed just two hits in 6 2-3 innings before manager Terry Francona, who chose to start the right-hander over ace Corey Kluber, turned to baseball's best bullpen, using Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen to finish the three-hitter.

Allen came in with two on and two outs in the eighth to face Judge, who struck out for the fourth time and the rookie angrily snatched at his bat frustration. Allen then worked the ninth for a save.

Judge's verdict on Bauer was unanimous in New York's clubhouse.

"He was mixing his pitches well, he was using the corners extremely well," he said. "You've got to tip your cap sometimes. We've just got to pick ourselves up and get ready for tomorrow" (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Diamondbacks outslug Rockies in NL wild-card game

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MLB Playoffs: Diamondbacks outslug Rockies in NL wild-card game

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX -- Three bags, four times.

And you wouldn't believe who got in on all the fun for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Spirited reliever Archie Bradley hit a stunning triple in the seventh inning, driving in two runs with one of four three-baggers by Arizona that sent the Diamondbacks past the Colorado Rockies 11-8 in the National League wild-card game Wednesday night.

"I think after today, I've pretty much seen everything," first-year Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "This was an incredible game."

As he watched his top reliever rounding second base, Lovullo said he thought, "Please stop. We're fine."

But that's not Bradley.

"That's just kind of who I am," he said. "I don't know any other way to play, so I was going to run as hard as I could until they told me to stop."

Paul Goldschmidt launched an early three-run homer and the Diamondbacks built a 6-0 lead before ace Zack Greinke faltered. Colorado climbed back into it and cut it to 8-7 when Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story hit back-to-back homers in the eighth off Bradley, perhaps exhausted from hustling around the bases and shouting in excitement to giddy teammates.

But then A.J. Pollock knocked in two runs with Arizona's fourth triple, this one off closer Greg Holland, as the Diamondbacks scored three times in their half of the eighth to finally put it away.

"Right away all hell broke loose," Colorado manager Bud Black said, "and from then on it was a heavyweight fight."

Arizona advanced to a best-of-five Division Series against the NL West champion Dodgers, a team the Diamondbacks beat the last six times they played. Game 1 is Friday night in Los Angeles.

The Diamondbacks became the first team with four triples in a postseason game since the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) twice hit five during the first World Series back in 1903 against Pittsburgh.

It was that kind of crazy night in the desert as two NL West foes slugged it out. Daniel Descalso also homered for the Diamondbacks, and Ketel Marte tripled twice.

"That's one of the best games I've ever been a part of, if not the best," Goldschmidt said.

Bradley, a high-energy setup man recruited to play quarterback at Oklahoma, went 1 for 4 at the plate this season to raise his career batting average to .098. With two outs in the seventh, he drove a 3-1 pitch from Pat Neshek to deep left-center to give Arizona an 8-5 cushion. It was his first extra-base hit in the majors and the first triple by a reliever in postseason history.

Already a fan favorite for his bushy beard and late-inning relief work, Bradley regrouped from the two solo homers he gave up to get the final two outs of the eighth with the Diamondbacks clinging to a one-run lead.

Fernando Rodney allowed a run in the ninth before closing out Arizona's first playoff game since 2011.

Jake Lamb tied a Diamondbacks postseason record with four hits, all singles, and scored three times.

Jonathan Lucroy doubled twice, scored two runs and drove in one for the Rockies in their first playoff appearance since 2009.

Marte, who came to Arizona with pitcher Taijuan Walker from Seattle for Jean Segura in an offseason deal, became the first player to triple twice in a postseason game since Mariano Duncan did it for Philadelphia against Atlanta in the 1993 NL Championship Series.

The home team won for just the second time in the six NL wild-card games since the one-game format was adopted in 2012. The hosts hadn't even scored in the last three, but the Diamondbacks ended that before their first out.

Goldschmidt, in an 0-for-17 slump to end the regular season, hit the first pitch he saw from ineffective starter Jon Gray into the left-field seats for a three-run shot.

Greinke blanked the Rockies on one hit through three innings but never made it through the fourth.

Colorado, known for its power at the plate, got back into it with small ball -- five hits, four of them singles. Lucroy's two-out RBI double followed by pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista's run-scoring single made it 6-4, and Greinke was finished. He allowed four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings.

"We know how tough these guys are. We play `em all the time," Goldschmidt said. "Every time we scored, we just said, `We've got to get more, we've got to get more.'"

Left-hander Robbie Ray, a 15-game winner during the regular season, came on for his first relief appearance in three years and threw two shutout innings before giving up a leadoff double to Lucroy just below the home run line in straightaway center in the seventh. Lucroy went to third on a wild pitch before Ray fanned Ian Desmond.

Lovullo replaced Ray with another lefty, ex-Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, to face NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon, who put down a bunt that brought Lucroy home and cut the lead 6-5.

The 25-year-old Gray was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his previous five starts, but the Diamondbacks were up 3-0 on him before a good share of the 48,803 in the stands settled into their seats. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings.

Triple threat
The previous pitcher to hit a postseason triple was Dontrelle Willis for the Marlins in 2003.

Moment of silence
There was a moment of silence for victims of the Las Vegas shooting, and a photo was shown on the big screen of one of them, Christiana Duarte, a University of Arizona graduate and former member of the Diamondbacks front office.

Up next
Rockies: Will be right back in Arizona to open the 2018 season on March 29.

Diamondbacks: The Dodgers had the best record in baseball at 104-58 but went 8-11 against Arizona.