Phillies

Phillies-Marlins: 5 things you need to know

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Phillies-Marlins: 5 things you need to know

The Phillies’ 10-game homestand continues Friday night as they welcome the Miami Marlins to Citizens Bank Park for their first divisional series of the season.

The Phils (3-6) were swept and completely dominated by the Brewers from Tuesday to Thursday, losing three games by a combined score of 25-10.

It doesn’t get much easier this weekend. Miami (5-5) has gotten off to a hot start offensively and has its ace on the mound for the series opener, which airs at 7:05 p.m. on The Comcast Network.

Hey Jose
Jose Fernandez was an All-Star and the NL Rookie of the Year in 2013, and through two starts this season he looks like the frontrunner for the Cy Young award.

Fernandez is 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA. He’s allowed 10 baserunners in 12 2/3 innings while striking out 17.

In exactly 30 big-league starts, Fernandez is 14-6 with a 2.09 ERA. Since opening day 2013, Fernandez ranks second in the NL to Clayton Kershaw in ERA and WHIP (0.97). Fernandez also leads the NL in strikeouts per nine innings (9.91) and opponents’ batting average (.179).

The Phillies couldn’t touch Fernandez last season. They went 8 for 62 (.129) against him with one extra-base hit. Fernandez allowed one run (a solo homer to Delmon Young) to the Phils in 18 innings of work.

The Phils should be prepared to see a 95 mph fastball, one of the majors’ best curveballs, and a changeup. Fernandez’s opponents have hit .115 against the curve and .173 against the changeup in the majors.

Nasty.

Good A.J. or bad A.J.?
The Phillies have already seen both versions of A.J. Burnett in his two starts.

In the second game of the season in Texas, Burnett allowed one run over six solid innings. Then against the Cubs last Sunday, he walked six batters, put 12 men on base and allowed eight runs, four of which were earned.

That’s what the Phils should expect from Burnett -- a bunch of dominant starts in which he looks unhittable and misses bats all night, but a handful of starts in which he can’t locate anything.

This will be Burnett’s first-ever start at Citizens Bank Park as a Phillie, but he’s quite familiar with the stadium. In eight career appearances at CBP (seven starts), Burnett is 3-3 with a 4.71 ERA. He’s made just two starts here in the last five seasons.

It will be just his third-ever start against the Marlins, the team Burnett broke into the majors with and made 131 starts for over seven seasons.

Bumbling bats
The Phillies hit .233/.313/.340 in the Brewers series with eight extra-base hits.

The Brewers hit .322/.357/.568 with 17 extra-base hits.

Since scoring 14 runs in the season opener, the Phils have averaged 3.38 runs per game. They scored 21 runs combined in their series openers in Texas and Chicago, but have scored just 20 runs total in their other seven games.

Red-hot Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton has started almost as well as Fernandez. In 10 games, Stanton is hitting .293 with three doubles, two homers, a league-leading 13 RBIs, four walks and two steals. He’s finally healthy, which is good for the Marlins and frightening for every other National League team.

Stanton has never really hit in this ballpark, but that’s more so because he was facing Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in his first two seasons. In 110 plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park, Stanton has hit .230 with a .300 OBP and five homers.

He’s never faced Burnett.

Catch the ball
The Marlins are last in the National League with 11 errors and the Phillies are third-worst defensively with 10.

Burnett will need his infield defense to be on top of its game, as he’s one of the foremost groundballers in the major leagues. In recent days Cody Asche has committed two errors, and Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have also missed balls that led to important runs.

Miami’s main culprit has been second baseman Derek Dietrich (three errors), who is filling in until veteran Rafael Furcal returns.

But for all of Miami’s defensive issues, the Phillies must be careful when taking an extra base on the Marlins’ outfield. Stanton and Marcell Ozuna have two of the strongest arms in the game. Ozuna had eight outfield assists last season in just 69 games.

MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

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MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Chicago Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to held the defending World Series champion Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Manager Joe Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (see full recap).

Tanaka, Yankees blank Astros to take ALCS lead
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the New York Yankees finally solved Houston Astros nemesis Dallas Keuchel, beating the ace lefty 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home and move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since 2009.

The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.

Just days ago, Houston was up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home in this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Yankees storm back for win over Astros to even ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Yankees storm back for win over Astros to even ALCS

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge ignited a rousing rally with a home run, then doubled during a four-run eighth inning to spur the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 6-4 Tuesday night and level the AL Championship Series 2-2.

The Yankees trailed 4-0 against starter Lance McCullers Jr. until Judge homered leading off the seventh. He tied it with a line drive that nearly left the park in the eighth and scored on Gary Sanchez's go-ahead two-run double off loser Ken Giles.

The Yankees have rallied from a second straight 0-2 series deficit -- they beat Cleveland in the Division Series by winning three in a row to take that best-of-five matchup.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect ninth, and New York improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs.

Masahiro Tanaka pitches for New York against Dallas Keuchel in Game 5 Wednesday and rematch of the opener, won by the Astros 2-1 (see full recap).

Dodgers on brink of World Series after shutout
CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish pitched sparkling ball into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles set a franchise record with its sixth consecutive playoff win. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip -- on a long foul ball in the first inning.

Looking for a four-game sweep and their 22nd NL pennant, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since their last championship in 1988. Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.

Los Angeles was eliminated by Chicago in the NLCS last year, but this is a different group of Dodgers. The lineup is patient and pesky and the pitching staff is much deeper, especially since Darvish was acquired in a trade with Texas in the final minutes before the July 31 deadline (see full recap).