Phillies

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 5

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 5

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DENVER — The Phillies’ road trip turned nightmarish Saturday night when rookie Nick Pivetta gave up five runs in the first and three more in the third, leading to an 8-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

It was the Phillies’ fifth straight loss on their current eight-game trip. They have scored eight runs in two losses at hitter-friendly Coors Field and 13 runs during their five-game skid.

Pivetta gave up five runs in a 42-pitch first, a rally that included three singles, a walk, a sacrifice fly, a hit batter and first baseman Tommy Joseph’s two-base error. Pivetta lasted a career-low tying 2⅔ innings, departing after Pat Valaika homered in the third.

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez needed 36 pitches to complete a two-run first Friday, but he lasted five innings and allowed just those two runs in what became a 4-3 loss. Pivetta was considerably less fortunate and unable to take the game through three innings.

Rockies starter Jon Gray limited the Phillies to one run in seven innings before Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer off Zac Rosscup in the eighth. The Phillies tacked on a run in the ninth when Freddy Galvis’ two-out flare fell between leftfielder Carlos Gonzalez and shortstop Valaika.

Starting pitching report
Pivetta quickly tumbled into a deep hole, giving up five runs (three earned) in the first and yielded eight runs (six earned) while lasting just 2⅔ innings. He put himself in immediate trouble, loading the bases in the first with no outs on a walk, hit batter and single.

Gerardo Parra became the fourth straight batter to reach base when he singled home two runs. Mark Reynolds grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice, followed by Joseph’s two-base error when he moved left for Gonzalez’s grounder that bounced past him.

A sacrifice fly and single completed the carnage.

Pivetta got a double-play grounder in the second but gave up Parra’s double and Reynolds single to open the third. Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to deep center. And with one out, Valaika hit a two-run homer that ended Pivetta’s 64-pitch outing.

It was the Phillies’ shortest start since June 26 at Arizona when Pivetta also went 2⅔ innings.

Gray gave up six hits and one run in seven innings and remained unbeaten this season at Coors Field, where he is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts.

Bullpen report
Mark Leiter Jr. relieved Pivetta and saved the Phillies’ bullpen. Leiter pitched 4⅓ scoreless innings, allowing two hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. Leiter, who retired the first nine batters he faced before Gray singled, threw 40 of 52 pitches for strikes.

Closer Hector Neris took the mound in the eighth with four days of rest. He gave up a leadoff double to Gonzalez and two walks to load the bases but struck out DJ LeMahieu to end a 26-pitch inning that included 13 strikes.

At the plate
Daniel Nava finished a double shy of the cycle and hit his fourth homer, a three-run shot off Rosscup, who took over for Gray in the eighth. 

The Phillies scored in the fourth on Nick Williams' double-play grounder after Freddy Galvis and Nava opened the inning with singles.

In the field
With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Galvis was robbed of a hit when first baseman Reynolds lunged to his right to spear Galvis’ hard-line drive.

Roster moves
Rightfielder Aaron Altherr (right hamstring strain) was placed on the 10-day disabled list. He was double-switched out of Friday’s game in the eighth inning after re-aggravating the injury. Altherr went on the disabled list July 26 and missed 10 games after straining that hamstring.

Outfielder Cameron Perkins, who was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, was recalled to take Altherr’s place on the roster. In 64 games with the IronPigs, Perkins is hitting .295 with 17 doubles, six homers, 22 RBIs and a .387 on-base percentage.

In 28 games with the Phillies this year, Perkins is hitting .207 (12 for 58). 

Short wait
Catcher Jorge Alfaro was in the lineup, one day after being recalled from Lehigh Valley to give the Phillies coverage at the position with Andrew Knapp day-to-day with a bruised right hand.

Mackanin said Alfaro started because he has caught Pivetta this season, and in Sunday’s afternoon game, Mackanin wanted Cameron Rupp to catch Aaron Nola.

A September call-up last season, Alfaro played in his seventh game in the majors and made his fifth career start. He singled in each of his first two at-bats and went 2 for 4.

Hot streak
Nola will make his 50th career start Sunday and face the Rockies for the first time. He has allowed two or fewer runs in eight straight starts, going 5-3 with a 1.66 ERA in those outings with 15 walks and 63 strikeouts in 54⅓ innings. During that span, Nola has limited opposing hitters to a .205 average and a .575 OPS.

“His command’s been better,” pitching coach Bob McClure said. “He’s kept the ball lower with all pitches. (Gone) up by design. The quality of his secondary pitches has gotten better as well.”

Nola didn’t pitch after July 28 last year because of a right elbow strain and finished the 2016 season with 20 starts and 111 innings. With an eye toward his future health, Nola took a preventive measure with his delivery and brought it to spring training.

“He’s got a higher leg kick now,” McClure said. “He came up with that based on getting hurt last year. He felt that by having a higher leg kick in the windup took stress off his arm. In doing that, his control suffered a little bit in the beginning. But it’s obviously smoothed out since then.” 

Right stuff
Mackanin said there was no timeline for when Altherr might return after re-aggravating his right hamstring and straining it for the second time in less than two weeks. With their regular rightfielder sidelined, Mackanin said, “I’m just going to wing it.”

Nava started in right Saturday, and Mackanin said, he was “going to probably play” Hyun So Kim there Sunday, although Kim has expressed a preference for playing left field rather than right. 

Williams has made 27 major league starts — 16 in right field, 10 in left field and one as the designated hitter. His past five starts have been in left field.

“I like him better in left,” Mackanin said. “I didn’t like the way he looked so much in right. But our ballpark is funny in right with that fence out there.”

Ten of Williams’ 16 starts in right have been at Citizens Bank Park, including his past seven games there from July 21-28,

Up next
The Phillies turn to Nola (8-7, 3.16) to stop the bleeding Sunday in the series finale. The Rockies will counter with Jeff Hoffman (3-2, 5.18)

The Phillies are off Monday and conclude their eight-game road trip with games at Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Red Sox name Alex Cora manager; Mets offer job to Mickey Callaway

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Red Sox name Alex Cora manager; Mets offer job to Mickey Callaway

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox have hired Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora to be their new manager.

The team made the announcement on Sunday, a day after Cora's Astros reached the World Series.

Cora replaces John Farrell, who was fired this month despite winning back-to-back AL East titles. Farrell's teams won the 2013 World Series, finished last twice and then in each of the past two years won the division but got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Hispanic manager in Red Sox history.

He played 14 years in the major leagues before retiring in 2011, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox. He was a member of Boston's 2007 World Series team.

Cora has never managed before.

Reports: Mets offer manager job to Indians coach Callaway
NEW YORK — It appears the New York Mets have settled on their choice for a manager.

Several media outlets are reporting the team has offered the job to Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The New York Post was the first to report the Mets were in talks with Callaway, saying a deal is being finalized.

When contacted Sunday, multiple Mets officials declined to comment.

With his contract set to expire, Terry Collins stepped down at the end of the season after seven years as Mets manager and accepted a position as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson.

The 42-year-old Callaway has been Cleveland's pitching coach for the past five seasons under highly successful manager Terry Francona. Led by ace right-hander Corey Kluber, the Indians led the major leagues with a 3.30 ERA this season, one year after reaching the World Series.

Callaway has never managed at any professional level.

Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

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Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

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HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.

Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Astros reached the World Series for only the second time by blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP, and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium.

"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."

The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve, the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.

Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.

Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

CC Sabathia entered 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York went 1-6 on the road this postseason.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh.

With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.

"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."