Phillies

Pete Mackanin signs 2-year deal with club option in 2019

Pete Mackanin signs 2-year deal with club option in 2019

Updated: 7:40 p.m.

For the second straight year, the Phillies increased their commitment to manager Pete Mackanin, signing him to a new contract Thursday.

Mackanin's contract now runs through 2018 with a club option for 2019. His previous extension, signed last March, took him through the end of 2017 with a 2018 club option.

"I am very pleased with the contributions Pete has made and the job that he has done as the manager of this club," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday at a press conference. "I think he's grown a lot in the role. And really, whether it's his interactions with the players, his interactions with the media, his interactions with fans, whether we're on a winning streak or a losing streak, I think he has clearly solidified that he is the leader of this club."

Mackanin is in his second full season as the Phillies' manager after taking over for Ryne Sandberg on June 26, 2015. His record with the Phils is 121-161 (.429).

The Phillies like the way Mackanin communicates with his players.

"I want them to be accountable and I make sure they're accountable. Back in the old days, it was, 'I'm the manager, that's why you're not playing, get out of my office.' Doesn't work anymore," Mackanin said. "I want the players to respect me and like playing for me. But at the same time, when I want them to be accountable and want them to do something they should or shouldn't be doing, I let them know about it. It's kind of a funny relationship, but it's the one I think I've nurtured and that's my style."

Klentak credited Mackanin with being instrumental in the growth of the team's young talent such as Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Aaron Altherr. Hernandez leads all major-league second basemen in runs scored (29) and is third in both average (.324) and on-base percentage (.378). Among shortstops, Galvis is tied for the league lead in RBIs with 21, while Altherr is riding an eight-game hitting streak and batting .351 with seven homers, 21 RBIs and a .435 on-base percentage in 25 games. All three have also played strong defense.

"If you look at a few examples, Cesar Hernandez had sort of a rocky road as he first entered the big leagues," Klentak said. "Through the patience and the work put into it by Pete and Pete's staff, we're now seeing Cesar Hernandez establish himself as one of the better all-around second baseman in baseball.

"These guys have shown patience in continuing to work with Freddy Galvis and now he's one of the main leaders on our club. Pete has continued to try to find ways to get Aaron Altherr in the lineup and now we're starting to see Aaron Altherr take off and become one of the better players in all of baseball.

"That's a big part of it — Pete's ability and our staff's ability to continue to work with those players, to help them grow, help them improve, to understand that there's going to be growing pains with young players."

Mackanin is also savvy with the media, which doesn't hurt.

"We can see progress in what's happening right now," Klentak said. "I can see it, Pete can see it, we all see it — it's happening before our very eyes. Obviously it has not reflected in our win-loss record, but we can see the progress happening. That's why we're making this decision."

The timing of the extension is interesting as it comes a day after reliever Joaquin Benoit criticized the way the Phillies' staff has used its struggling bullpen (see story).

Klentak discussed the topic on Thursday, while Mackanin said he addressed it with Benoit.

"I told him, I said, 'Look it, when a team's going through a losing streak I don't expect everybody to be happy,'" Mackanin said (see story). "In fact, I expect everybody to be frustrated — from the players to the coaches to myself, nobody's happy. So I don't have an issue with that. I spoke to him and it's done with, it's all over."

CSNPhilly.com's Jordan Hall contributed to this story.

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

BOX SCORE

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.