Phillies

Mets, elements get best of 'embarrassed' Hamels

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Mets, elements get best of 'embarrassed' Hamels

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While the Flyers were electrifying their fans with a do-or-die playoff victory over the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, there was no joy across the street in Mudville.

Mighty Cole could not grip the baseball.

“Sometimes you have to battle the elements and the elements definitely got the best of me,” Cole Hamels said after he and the Phillies suffered a 6-1 loss to the New York Mets on a cold, rainy, miserable night at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).

Hamels walked five batters and hit another in 4 2/3 innings. After the loss, he said he was embarrassed by the performance -- three times.

“Just the fact of not being able to locate pitches and not being able to throw strikes or apply a plan of attack to hitters,” Hamels said. “When you’re not able to execute it creates a serious issue and it did -- it led to a very poor performance and from my standpoint I’m truly embarrassed that I didn’t give anybody a chance. Balls weren’t even being put into play because I didn’t allow them to be put in play. That’s an embarrassment because I’m not allowing my teammates to get in the game.

“When you’re walking that many guys and you’re allowing runs to score, you don’t give your team a chance to win. And even for the fans that stayed, it’s pretty embarrassing for the type of game that I went out and pitched. It’s not the type of game I like to credit myself on when I go out there and work so diligently in between starts and to start a season.

“I threw 50-something balls; I don’t do that. I guess I can say I have now.”

The first pitch of the game was delayed one hour, 28 minutes. It was 48 degrees when Hamels threw the first pitch. It was 45 degrees by the middle innings. It rained most of the game. The announced crowd was 28,189. The actual in-house attendance was probably half that.

Hamels was able to navigate the first three innings and allow just one run. He lost it in the fourth and fifth innings. He walked four batters in an inning for the first time in his career in the fourth. One of the walks was to the opposing pitcher, Jonathon Niese, with the bases loaded.

The next inning, Hamels walked a fifth batter and hit another. He failed to get the third out in the inning even after manager Ryne Sandberg left him out there to try to retire the bottom third of the order.

Hamels couldn’t to it. He threw a whopping 68 pitches in the fourth and fifth innings. He finished the game with 106 pitches in 4 2/3 innings; 51 of them were balls.

Hamels didn’t complain about the Phillies choosing to play the game in such bad weather. The team seemed hellbent on getting the game in because Wednesday's forecast is even worse and the club already had one day off this week (Monday) with another coming Thursday.

“It’s baseball," Hamels said. "You have to get your games in. There are going to be games that are wet and cold, 110-degree temperatures. You have to be able to play and master what you have out there and be able to execute. I wasn’t able to do so.”

The cold more than the rain was the root of Hamels’ problem.

“I wasn’t able to grip any of my pitches, not even a fastball,” he said. “To be able to grip a four-seam fastball and locate it, that’s first and foremost and I wasn’t able to do that, let alone try to move to another pitch. I wasn’t able to throw any of them.

“Not being able to build up enough sweat so I could get certain grips on the ball hurt. The ball definitely felt like a cue ball. Today might have been the day to use pine tar, but fortunately I don’t do that. It might have been the day to learn.

“It was just difficult to grip the baseball, but you have to be able to battle and I wasn’t able to do that.”

Niese pitched in identical conditions and was able to succeed. He logged seven innings and scattered four hits, one of which was a homer by Marlon Byrd. Niese walked just one and struck out five.

“Niese was able to deal with it and he got through it just fine," Hamels said. "A lot of credit goes to him for being able to do that. And there is embarrassment on my side for not being able to compete.”

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."

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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HOUSTON — Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.