Phillies

Jerad Eickhoff stays grounded after out-pitching Chris Sale

Jerad Eickhoff stays grounded after out-pitching Chris Sale

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The Phillies don’t have to worry about Jerad Eickhoff ever getting full of himself.
 
This is one grounded young man.
 
Eickhoff out-pitched American League Cy Young candidate Chris Sale in helping the Phillies beat the Chicago White Sox, 8-3, at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay). The 26-year-old right-hander has been remarkably consistent in his first full season in the majors. He has not missed a start, is pushing 200 innings and is 11-14 with a 3.75 ERA after starting out the season 2-8. His record would be a lot better if his mates had scored runs for him all season like they did Wednesday night.
 
With veteran Jeremy Hellickson likely moving on via free agency, Eickhoff could be in line to be the Phillies’ opening day starter next April.
 
Eickhoff was asked about that possibility after holding the White Sox to three runs over seven innings in his latest win.
 
His answer showed just how grounded he is.
 
“As long as I can be one of the guys on the team, one through five, just try to get in the rotation, whatever it is I’m happy with,” he said.
 
Eickhoff shouldn't worry.

He will be one of the guys next year.
 
Manager Pete Mackanin called him “a mainstay.” Those are words that get attached to durable pitchers who don’t miss a start and keep their teams in games, as Eickhoff has done so often. He entered Wednesday night’s game with the third-lowest run support in the majors — 3.59 runs per nine innings. He’d be pushing 15 wins with better run support. The Phils are 12-1 when scoring three runs or more in an Eickhoff start.
 
“That’s a tremendous compliment,” Eickhoff said in response to Mackanin’s calling him a mainstay. “I try to be as consistent as I can. You want to be counted on. To go out there and kind of know what you’re going to get, that’s what I’ve always strived to do.”
 
Eickhoff leads the team with 187⅓ innings. With two starts left, he has a chance to reach 200 innings.
 
“I think that would be a pretty cool benchmark to get to with this being my first full year,” he said. “But I try to think as day-by-day as I can and control what I can control pitch to pitch.”
 
Run support was not a problem for Eickhoff in this game. The Phillies had 10 hits with Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp all getting two each. Sale entered the game with a 3.03 ERA, second best in the AL, but the Phils torched him for six runs in four innings.
 
The top two men in the lineup, Hernandez and Roman Quinn, combined to reach base seven times and score three runs.
 
Joseph doubled in a run in the first inning against Sale and Rupp followed with a two-run double.
 
Joseph clubbed his 21st homer in 298 at-bats, a two-run shot in the third. The rookie first baseman is 12 for 25 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games. He is hitting .262 with a .522 slugging percentage and a .311 on-base percentage.
 
Joseph was happy to get Eickhoff some run support.
 
“He’s pitched much better than his record,” Joseph said. “He seems to go up against the ace of every staff as well. To get him run support meant a lot for us. And I’m sure it meant something for him as well.”

Eickhoff has been prone to home runs. He has given up seven in his last two starts, but six have been solo shots and solo shots won’t kill you, as the saying goes.

The Phillies traveled to New York after the game. They open a four-game series against the Mets on Thursday night and will have a chance to impact that club’s postseason hopes. The Mets were swept by the Braves the last three nights and the Phillies would like to do the same.

“I think the guys are up to it,” Mackanin said. “The Mets are playing for something. It would be nice to be a spoiler.”

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."