Phillies

MLB Playoffs: Bumgarner, Gillaspie helps Giants blank Mets

MLB Playoffs: Bumgarner, Gillaspie helps Giants blank Mets

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NEW YORK -- Nobody takes to October like Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants.

Bumgarner pitched a four-hitter for his latest postseason gem, outlasting Noah Syndergaard in a classic duel between aces, and injury substitute Conor Gillaspie hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning that sent San Francisco to a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets in the NL wild-card game Wednesday night.

Gillaspie connected off All-Star closer Jeurys Familia, who led the majors this year with a club-record 51 saves while allowing only one home run.

With their ninth consecutive victory when facing postseason elimination, manager Bruce Bochy and the Giants advanced to play the NL Central champion Cubs in a best-of-five Division Series. Game 1 is Friday night at venerable Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The good news for the Cubs as they attempt to end a championship drought that dates to 1908 is that Bumgarner probably won't start until Game 3 -- and would only be available once on full rest.

That's because the big left-hander has been untouchable under pressure.

"It's unbelievable what he's done," Gillaspie said.

The last time Bumgarner was on the mound in the postseason, he saved Game 7 of the 2014 World Series in Kansas City with five scoreless innings on two days' rest to cap one of the greatest playoff performances in baseball history.

Including his four-hit shutout at Pittsburgh in the 2014 wild-card game, he has tossed 23 straight scoreless innings in winner-take-all games.

"He's one of the game's great big-game pitchers," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Asked how he wants to be remembered, Bumgarner said: "I'm a winner. That's all anybody wants to be."

Now, the Giants have a chance to extend their pattern of even-year titles after winning World Series crowns in 2010, `12 and `14.

In a matchup between the past two NL champions, Syndergaard struck out 10 in seven shutout innings of two-hit ball. Brandon Crawford doubled leading off the ninth against Familia. Angel Pagan struck out after failing to get a bunt down, and Joe Panik walked.

Gillaspie, starting at third base for injured All-Star Eduardo Nunez, drove a 1-1 pitch over the fence in right field and pumped his arm as he rounded first.

"I don't know what I was thinking. Normally I'm not a fired-up guy. I let some frustration out from the first six innings with that swing," Gillaspie said.

Bumgarner closed with a 1-2-3 ninth against the 3-4-5 hitters and smacked his glove in triumph when rookie T.J. Rivera flied out to end it.

With his sizzling fastball clocking 99 mph and long, blond locks dangling down his neck, Syndergaard held San Francisco hitless until Denard Span's two-out single in the sixth.

Eager to take advantage of Syndergaard's slow delivery, Span stole second before Brandon Belt sent a long drive to deep center. Curtis Granderson, moved over from right field late in the season because of injuries to two other outfielders, crashed hard with his left shoulder into the padded fence 408 feet from home plate and tumbled to the warning track.

He held onto the ball, however, and was shaken up a bit before getting to his feet and jogging off the field as teammates waited to high-five him and fans chanted "Grandy! Grandy!" Syndergaard raised his arm, while Belt tossed his helmet in frustration between first and second.

Syndergaard fired 42 pitches at least 98 mph -- more than the Phillies (41) and Indians (35) threw all year, according to a tweet from Inside Edge.

"He was really good tonight. He was as good as I've seen at this level. It was a tough go-round for seven innings," Gillaspie said.

And while Syndergaard simply overpowered the Giants at times, Bumgarner kept the Mets off balance by mixing pinpoint pitches and changing speeds from around 93-77 mph.

New York came out swinging after Collins said before the game his hitters had seen enough video of Bumgarner over the past two days to know he would challenge them. But the aggressive approach played right into the hands of Bumgarner and the Giants, who never had to use a shaky bullpen that struggled badly down the stretch.

The big lefty was able to get quick outs early and went the distance on 119 pitches, striking out six and walking two -- one intentional. He needed only seven pitches to get through each of the first three innings, with the help of a double play.

"I really thought, hey look, if we can get to him early," Collins said. "We probably need to do a little better job of working the count."

Still, he was visibly aggravated at times by Mike Winters' strike zone -- so was Mets reliever Addison Reed, it appeared -- and had a quick chat with the plate umpire between batters in the sixth.

Trainer's room
Giants: Nunez (strained right hamstring) was left off the wild-card roster, costing San Francisco a base-stealing threat against Syndergaard. An AL All-Star this season with Minnesota, he was acquired in a July 28 trade but hasn't played since Sept. 25.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (wrist) was missed, particularly because of his prodigious numbers against left-handed pitching. Flores has been sidelined since Sept. 10 after getting hurt in a home-plate collision. Surgery is planned this week to remove the hamate bone in his right wrist, and Flores is expected to be healthy for spring training next year.

Up next
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto figures to start the Division Series opener against LHP Jon Lester.

Mets: Open next season April 3 at home against Atlanta.

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Let the record show that on a snowy Friday afternoon 10 days before Christmas 2017, the Phillies ramped up their rebuild.

Dramatically.

What other conclusion can be drawn after the club went out and signed Carlos Santana, one of the best offensive players on the free-agent market? With the signing, confirmed by multiple baseball sources, general manager Matt Klentak has attached a new level of importance to the 2018 season.

Just a couple of days ago at the winter meetings in Orlando, Klentak spoke of how 2018 was going to be a time to "find out" more about the team's young core of players. Who would continue to take a step forward? Who would fall by the wayside?

But now that Santana is here, 2018 doesn't feel like it's just a find-out season. It feels like a season in which the Phillies can continue to find out about players — separate the studs from the duds — and also start nibbling around that second National League wild-card spot.

Sure, a lot has to go right for that to happen.

And one of the things that has to go right is Klentak has to land a starting pitcher to slot in around Aaron Nola and the rest of the staff, which has the look of a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters — until someone steps forward.

Santana's deal is for three years and $60 million, according to sources. Three years is a nice get — i.e., it's not cripplingly long — for a 32-year-old (in April) who hits for power, produces runs and does what Klentak likes best: controls the strike zone. (You could say that Klentak added two players who control the strike zone to his lineup Friday as the trade of Freddy Galvis to San Diego for strike-throwing pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos cleared the way for J.P. Crawford to be the regular shortstop.)

The Phillies need to do everything within reason to make sure that the first of Santana's three seasons with the club isn't about simply inching the rebuild forward. The Nationals are the class of the NL East, but the rest of the division ranges from ordinary to awful. The Phils, with an improved offense and bullpen (Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter), can play with Braves and Mets and clean up on the Marlins, the jewelry store that became a pawnshop, in agent Scott Boras' words.

It's just up to Klentak to get more starting pitching, and he's on the case. He admitted that at the winter meetings. He is particularly fond of young starters with years of control remaining on their contracts. Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer fit this description. It takes talent to get pitchers like that. The Phillies have enough depth of prospects to get one of these guys and their reserves of expendable talent just grew with the Santana signing.

Santana, a switch-hitter who has averaged 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .810 OPS in eight seasons, is going to be the team's primary first baseman. Rhys Hoskins is going to be the primary leftfielder. That means the Phillies suddenly have a young outfielder that they could deal. Maybe they try to capitalize on Nick Williams' strong half-season in the majors and package him for an arm. Or maybe it's Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr.

However it plays out, you can be sure that Klentak will be creative. You can rule nothing out with this guy. The other day, we poo-pooed the Phillies signing Jake Arrieta, who is looking for a long-term deal approaching $200 million. But if Arrieta lingers out there until February and is looking for a two-year landing spot, hey, maybe.

We wouldn't even put it past Klentak to entertain the idea of using Santana at third base a little bit — he did play 26 games there in 2014 — and trading Maikel Franco. The Giants were sniffing around, gathering intel on Franco at the winter meetings. There has to be a reason for that. Also at the meetings, an official from a rival club said the Phillies weren't as aggressive as he expected in trying to move Cesar Hernandez. Could it be that Hernandez would get some time at third if Franco were to be moved? Hernandez is still a trade chip, but he doesn't need to be cashed in until July and by that time Scott Kingery should be here.

There are a lot of ways this thing can go. And with the signing of Carlos Santana — which won't become official until he passes a physical next week — the Phillies have guaranteed that the remainder of this offseason will be a busy one.

It has to be.

The stakes have changed for 2018. The rebuild is still in place, but it has been ramped up. Matt Klentak has improved the bullpen and the offense. Now he has to attack that starting pitching and he has the trade weapons to do it.

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

The Phillies' busy Friday continued with a pricey free-agent signing.

The Phils have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

It is by far the most expensive contract the Phillies have given out under the Matt Klentak-Andy MacPhail regime.

They had the money. When the offseason began, the only player the Phillies had signed to a multi-million dollar deal was Odubel Herrera.

Santana, 31, has always been a high-walk power hitter. From 2011 through 2017, he walked between 88 and 113 times each season, all while maintaining relatively low strikeout totals for a man with such power and plate selection.

In 2016, Santana set a career high with 34 home runs. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 37 doubles, 23 homers and 79 RBIs.

This addition provides the Phillies with much-needed pop to protect Rhys Hoskins and also gives the Phils added versatility. Santana is a switch-hitter who came up as a catcher, but he hasn't caught since 2014. The last three seasons, he has played primarily first base. In his eight seasons, Santana has also started 26 games at third base and seven in right field.

The move likely means Hoskins will play left field, and it could facilitate another Phillies trade of an outfielder such as Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr or Odubel Herrera.