Phillies

Phillies-Dodgers observations: Another thrilling rally past MLB leader

Phillies-Dodgers observations: Another thrilling rally past MLB leader

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The legend of Rhys Hoskins continued to grow Tuesday night. The rookie sensation had two big hits — both on full counts — and drove in four of the Phillies' runs in a come-from-behind, 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies entered the game with the second-worst record in the majors. They have rallied to beat the team with the game's best record two nights in a row. And they've done it on nights when the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish on the mound.

Not too shabby. Two entertaining wins.

• Hoskins drove in the Phillies' first run with another in a long line of impressive at-bats in the sixth inning. Hoskins has an uncanny ability to remain selective at the plate and force pitchers into counts where they have to throw a fastball. He did it again in this at-bat. There were runners on first and second with one out and the Dodgers up, 2-0. Hoskins laid off a breaking ball from Darvish on 2-2 and that ran the count to 3-2. Hoskins then got a down-and-in fastball — 96 mph — and laced it past third baseman Justin Turner and into left field to drive home Cesar Hernandez, who had reached base on an error.

• An inning after he put the Phillies on the board, Hoskins broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run double against hard-throwing reliever Pedro Baez in the seventh. The Phillies tied the game at 2-2 when Odubel Herrera drew a bases-loaded walk against Baez. That brought up Hoskins for an epic at-bat against Baez. Hoskins saw 10 straight, 95-plus-mph fastballs from Baez and fouled off four of them with the count full. He then unloaded on a heater, sending it to left-center and clearing the bases to give the Phillies a 5-2 lead (see story).

• Hoskins saw 30 pitches in the game. He now has 43 RBIs since his debut on Aug. 10. That's the most in the majors over that span.

• Overshadowed by Hoskins-mania: Aaron Nola pitched seven innings of two-run ball. Phillies starters Nola and Nick Pivetta have allowed just four runs in 13 innings over the first two games of the series. They've kept their team alive until the big inning has arrived.

• Aaron Altherr was a bases-loaded hero on Monday night. (His grand slam against Kershaw accounted for all the Phillies' runs in that game.) He had a chance to do some bases-loaded damage in the sixth inning of this game but grounded into an inning-ending double play. Altherr did contribute a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth. That gave Hector Neris a little breathing room in the ninth.

• Darvish registered his 200th strikeout out the season when he got Freddy Galvis in the sixth. He gave up just one unearned run in 5 1/3 innings of work.

• J.P. Crawford led off the decisive seventh inning with a triple. He scored the tying run, but didn't exactly run the bases well as he failed to tag on a fly ball to Curtis Granderson toward the right-field line.

• Herrera stroked his 40th double of the season to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. That's the second most in the NL behind Colorado's Nolan Arenado, who entered Tuesday night with 42.

• Herrera died on third base in that inning. For a moment, it looked like he might score when Altherr lofted a long, well-hit fly ball to center. The ball sounded like a home run off the bat, but was knocked down by a stiff wind and died in Chris Taylor's glove for the third out.

• More good work in this one by Luis Garcia. He has allowed just one run in his last 17 innings.

• There was a cool scene before the game. The Phillies honored prospects Tom Eshelman and Scott Kingery with the Paul Owens Award for being the top minor leaguers in the organization this year (see story). Ten other previous Owens Award winners were in uniform for the game, including Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley and Phillies first base coach Mickey Morandini. The 10 players in uniform joined Eshelman and Kingery in a group picture before the game.

• Kershaw, Darvish ... the Phillies face another formidable pitcher in lefty Alex Wood (15-3, 2.69) on Wednesday night. Wood was an All-Star in July. Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.46) pitches for the Philllies.

Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

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AP Images

Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Klentak's trip to the winter meetings netted two veteran relievers, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.

Now, Klentak's focus becomes starting pitching. He'd like to add at least one before spring training begins, and chances are good that he will.

"We will probably slow down on the reliever front for a little while," the Phillies general manager said on Wednesday, Day 3 of the meetings. "I think for right now, we’ll probably shift our focus back toward the starting pitcher market, see what comes of that and just be patient with it.

"My expectation is that we will have another move before we go to spring training. I would not be surprised if we’re done for the winter meetings, but I would be surprised if we’re done for the offseason."

The Phillies have probed the free-agent market — big-ticket items such as Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are unlikely — and spent the fall gauging other teams on which starters could become available in trades.

"I couldn't handicap the way it'll happen or even if it'll happen," Klentak said. "I think we're continuing to stay engaged with some agents. There's a few teams we've talked to about trades, some short-term options, some more controllable options. I just don't know.

"We've said as an industry and the Phillies have talked about this for a long time: it's so important to be able to develop your own starting pitchers because to acquire them in a trade is incredibly expensive in terms of player capital and to acquire them in free agency is incredibly expensive in terms of total dollars. Maybe never in our history has it been more important to develop starting pitchers."

In recent seasons, the Phillies have added starting pitchers (Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Clay Buchholz) near the end of their contracts. The Phils could still do that and have the money to take on a salary dump. But there would be merit to taking on a younger pitcher who has more contractual control, and the Phillies have the prospects to get in the hunt for Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer, three pitchers who fit this profile.

The Phillies have a logjam in the middle infield with J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery pushing Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. Galvis and Hernandez are both available for trades. Officials from other clubs say the Phillies have been aggressive in shopping Galvis. The Phils will look to get pitching for Galvis, but the return might not be robust because he is a rental player who will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Hernandez figures to bring a better return because he has three years of contractual control remaining. A person from a club that has spoken to the Phillies about Hernandez said the Phils are looking for two pitchers for him.

Another starting arm is needed to complement a group of starters that includes Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Ben Lively.

It's possible the Phils could also look for a veteran outfielder to come off the bench. But it's just as possible that the Phils give in-house prospect Roman Quinn a chance to be that guy. Quinn, a dynamic, speedy switch-hitter, has been plagued by injuries throughout his minor-league career, including last season when he missed significant time at Triple A with an elbow injury. He will turn 25 in May. It might be time to bring him, even if it means filling a reserve role.

"This is a year we want to find out about our young kids," Klentak said. "If we can find out about Roman Quinn, we would like to do that. On the flip side, if we have a chance to bring in a great makeup, complementary player that can help our young kids and show them the ropes a little bit, then we’d be open to that, too. That’s not likely to be an early offseason venture."

Also, as the rest of the offseason plays out, the Phils will monitor the availability of Miami outfielder Christian Yelich. The Phils have long liked Yelich and would certainly try to make a play for him. But as much as the Phillies like the player, Klentak has made it clear he's not in a hurry to subtract core players and prospects. That could hurt the Phillies' chances because it would take a big package of talent to get Yelich.

Notes
The Phillies pick third in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday morning. They will likely make a pick, but there's a strong possibility they will make it for another club and quickly trade the player. If the Phils lost someone in the draft, it could be outfielder Carlos Tocci or lefthander Brandon Leibrandt.

Klentak hinted that hard-throwing pitching prospect Seranthony Dominguez would begin transitioning to the bullpen in spring training. Mark Appel will also make the move to the bullpen.

Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

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USA Today Images

Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Miami has agreed to trade left fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, the third All-Star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement had not been announced and was subject to a physical.

"Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said at the winter meetings. "We're at that necessary point of talking through health always, no matter what the player is. It's not just a formality."

An All-Star the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle last Thursday for three prospects and dealt right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning NL MVP, to the New York Yankees on Monday for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects. The Cardinals had a deal in place for Stanton last week, but he invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the move.

"I was just very impressed the fact that we were involved in those conversations," Matheny said. "Unfortunately, that didn't work, but I think that just kind of parlayed into, OK, now what are we going to do?"

Ozuna likely will be in the outfielder with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. St. Louis could trade right fielder Stephen Piscotty.

Matheny wouldn't commit to an alignment.

"Something we're appreciative of is the humility of our players to maybe go to a spot where they haven't been before," he said. "You go in with your ideals of what you would like to see, and you're going to have to be flexible."

Center fielder Christian Yelich could be the next to exit the downsizing Marlins, bought by Bruce Sherman's group on Oct. 2.

Miami had a $116 million payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year, and is intent on reducing obligations. Stanton was owed $295 million over the next decade, and Gordon $38 million through 2020.