Phillies

MLB Playoffs: Edwin Encarnacion's HR gives Blue Jays wild win in 11

MLB Playoffs: Edwin Encarnacion's HR gives Blue Jays wild win in 11

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TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion advanced Toronto to the AL Division Series in the Blue Jays' familiar manner -- with a big home run.

Encarnacion hit a three-run drive in the 11th inning off Ubaldo Jimenez , and Toronto beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 in Tuesday night's AL wild card game to advance to a Division Series matchup against old foe Texas.

"It was a very special moment and a very special opportunity," Encarnacion said through a translator.

Jose Bautista also homered for the Blue Jays , who open the Division Series on Tuesday at Texas. Encarnacion's homer brought back memories of the tiebreaking, three-run shot that Bautista hit in the seventh inning of Game 5 of last year's AL Division Series win over the Rangers, a shot punctuated by a memorable bat flip.

And the Blue Jays won their last World Series title in 1993 on Joe Carter's walkoff home run .

"I was looking for a fastball and I was trying to put the barrel on it, get a little bit in front because the infield was playing in, and I actually got it," Encarnacion said through a translator.

Jimenez relieved Brian Duensing with one out in the 11th, and Devon Travis singled in a 1-1 pitch. Reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson singled on the next pitch, and Travis went all the way to third as left fielder Nolan Reimold bobbled the ball.

Encarnacion sent the following pitch, a 91 mph offering, soaring into the second deck in left. Encarnacion immediately knew it was gone and raised both arms in triumph, index fingers pointed skyward.

The crowd of 49,934 chanted "Eddie, Eddie!" as Encarnacion circled the bases before being greeted by a mob of teammates. Encarnacion matched his career-best with 42 home runs in the regular season.

Jimenez said he was trying to throw a low slider and induce a double play.

"It didn't do anything," Jimenez said. "It stayed up."

Orioles closer Zach Britton, who was perfect in 47 save chances during the regular season, never got in the game.

"Nobody has been pitching better for us than Ubaldo," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said . "It didn't work out."

Britton warmed up three times but didn't leave the bullpen.

"It's frustrating but it's not my call," Britton said. "It was just frustrating to have to sit there and watch."

Francisco Liriano retired five straight batters on four groundouts and a strikeout for the win after closer Roberto Osuna left with a sore shoulder .

"The doctor told me that I was going to be fine, I just need a couple of days," Osuna said. "I've been pitching a lot lately. They think it's just fatigue from the last couple of weeks."

Toronto beat Texas in five-game Division Series, sparked by Bautista's memorable homer. The teams brawled in May this year when Bautista was punched in the face by Rangers infielder Rougned Odor following a play at second base.

"It's going to be a very interesting series, and we're looking forward to it," Encarnacion said.

The roof was open at Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, where all 24 previous postseason games had been played with it closed.

Bautista led off the second against Chris Tillman with his fifth postseason homer. Mark Trumbo, who led the major leagues with 47 home runs, gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run homer off Marcus Stroman .

Ezequiel Carrera's RBI single chased Tillman in the fifth.

When Toronto pinch-hitter Melvin Upton Jr. flied out to the warning track in left field to end the seventh, Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim was nearly struck by a can that was thrown from the stands. Center fielder Adam Jones angrily gestured toward the seats, and Showalter came out to register his displeasure with the umpires.

"It's tough when you have that many people in the ballpark and one person does something that reflects poorly on all of them," Showalter said. "It can happen in any ballpark. I don't like anything that puts our guys in harm's way.

Blue Jays fans tossed bottles and debris on the field during game 5 against Texas last year, upset at the call that let Odor score from third after catcher Russell Martin's throw back to the mound deflected off Shin Soo Choo's bat.

Jones wasn't as diplomatic as his manager.

"That is about as pathetic as it gets," he said. "I hope they find the guy and press charges."

For starters
Stroman allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, struck out six and walked none. Tillman gave up two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Web gem
Kevin Pillar made a diving catch on Manny Machado's liner to right-center in the fourth .

Extra, extra!
This was the second extra-inning wild card game. Kansas City rallied to beat Oakland 9-8 in 12 innings in 2014.

Robbie
Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who starred for the Blue Jays and Orioles, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Angels' moves hurt Phillies' chances of catching Trout

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AP Images

Angels' moves hurt Phillies' chances of catching Trout

The Eagles made Angel Stadium in Anaheim their home away from home last week. The entire team was greeted with a gift of a Mike Trout bobblehead. Nigel Bradham even used the Millville native and Birds season ticketholder's locker to dress. Trout left a personalized message to his favorite team prior to the Rams game.

Yet another link that it is kismet for the native son, the best player in his sport, to return someday soon to Philadelphia and play for the team he grew up rooting for? After all, the Phillies are flush with spending money should the opportunity arise. They appear to have the makings of a strong nucleus that could lure the 26-year-old back East. His deal runs through 2020 and Trout would be only 29 at the end of that contract. Seems perfect, right?  

Not so fast, my red pinstriped friends.

Hold on, we'll get to that in one minute. If you've been comatose the last seven seasons, all Trout has done since debuting in the big leagues in 2011 is win two MVPs, finish second in MVP voting three times and make six All-Star Games. The marriage here with the Phillies, a team he was a die-hard fan of growing up — even attending the 2008 World Series Championship parade as a senior in high school — would be one made in heaven. 

Adding fodder to the Trout-to-Philly hype is the Angels have reached the postseason only once in his time there. The hope from a fan's perspective would be Anaheim would continue to languish in mediocrity and eventually be forced to move Trout to possibly begin a rebuild, or he would play out his deal and walk. Wishful thinking? Sure. Out of the question? No. Trout has a full no-trade, so he can pick and choose where he ends up if he wishes to leave Southern California for South Philly prior to the end of his deal.

However, there may be a fly in the ointment. Despite it being only December, the Angels have had themselves an offseason. They signed Japanese two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. The 23-year-old is a three-pitch starter who can touch over 100 mph on the gun with his fastball. He posted a 1.86 ERA in 140 innings for his Nippon-Ham club in Japan's Pacific League, a very high level of baseball. He also batted .322 with a .416 on-base percentage, while slugging .588 last season. In 2016, he hit 22 home runs. This was a major coup for the Angels, who won a bidding war over many other suitors around the league to land the right-handed pitching, left-handed hitting Ohtani.  

The Angels also signed veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler, a four-time All-Star and 2016 Gold Glove winner. Despite being 35, Kinsler is a major upgrade from what they had last year at the position. Anaheim also traded for Justin Upton late last year and re-signed him in the offseason. He'll play next to Trout in left. The Angels still need to upgrade their pitching. But on paper, they have the makings of a potent lineup that, with some pitching help, could land a wild-card spot in the playoffs. That is not music to Phillies fans' ears.

We're a long way away from 2020, so a lot can happen both here and 2,376 miles away in Orange County. The Phillies need to hope their current young nucleus blossoms like the group of Rollins, Utley, Howard and Hamels did in the mid-2000s. They should also keep a close eye on their neighbors to the West and cross their fingers things don't go so well. If both scenarios play out in their favor, the Phillies could reel in the biggest fish in franchise history.

Phillies lose prospect in Rule 5 draft, gain money to sign more

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Photo: Clearwater Threshers

Phillies lose prospect in Rule 5 draft, gain money to sign more

ORLANDO, Fla. — Carlos Tocci has long been an intriguing prospect in the Phillies' system. The club's international scouting staff liked the slender outfielder from Venezuela enough to give him a $759,000 signing bonus as a 16-year-old in the summer of 2011.

The big question with Tocci was whether he'd develop enough offensive pop to go with his outstanding defensive prowess.

Tocci made strides every year in the Phillies system, but not enough, in the minds of team officials, to move past other prospects and win a spot on the 40-man roster. The Phils left him unprotected last winter and managed to slip him through the annual Rule 5 draft, but they weren't so fortunate this year. Tocci was selected by the Chicago White Sox with the fourth pick in Thursday's draft and quickly spun to the Texas Rangers in a trade.

The price to select Tocci was $100,000. He must spend the entire 2018 season in the majors (or on the big-league disabled list) or be offered back to the Phillies for $50,000.

"Obviously, it stinks for us to lose a guy like that, but it's the risk you take when you don't protect someone," Phillies assistant general manager Bryan Minniti said. "I'm happy for him to get the opportunity. Selfishly, we hope to get him back."

Tocci, 22, hit .307 with a .362 on-base percentage and a .398 slugging percentage in 113 games at Double A Reading in 2017. He hit .189 in 17 games at Triple A.

Tocci has athleticism and speed. He is a plus defender. His speed and defensive skill could help him stick in the majors as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.

The Phillies added a player in the Rule 5 draft, but only briefly. They selected right-handed pitcher Nick Burdi from Minnesota with the third pick and quickly traded him to Pittsburgh for $500,000 in international signing money. The Phils have just over $1 million remaining in their current pool, which expires June 15.

Extra international money is valuable. The Phillies recently added four pitchers — Seranthony Dominguez, Ranger Suarez, Jose Taveras and Franklyn Kilome — to their 40-man roster and all were international signings. The team recently used international pool money to sign catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, one of 13 former Atlanta prospects who had been set free after the Braves violated signing rules. Several of those players are still unsigned and other prospects pop up all the time. Remember, the Phillies' top pitching prospect is a kid named Sixto Sanchez. He caught the eye of Phillies scouts three years ago while throwing batting practice to a catcher that the Phillies were watching (see story).

"Our international department with Sal Agostinelli and those guys, they're weapons for us," Minniti said. "So for us to have the ability to give them more money to spend is a positive. They're seeing workouts every day all over the world. It's good to have the reserves to continue to spend."

The Phillies have two open spots on their 40-man roster. Those will soon be filled by relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.

The Phillies also completed their coaching staff on Thursday, hiring Jose Flores as first base coach and infield/baserunning instructor. Flores was a 34th-round pick by the Astros in 1989 and spent six years in their minor-league system. He spent 10 years as a coach in Puerto Rico's winter league and was also a coach for Puerto Rico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Gabe Kapler's full staff includes bench coach Rob Thomson, hitting coach John Mallee, assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, assistant pitching coach Chris Young, bullpen coach Jim Gott, first base coach Flores and third base coach Dusty Wathan.