Phillies

Phillies-Marlins observations: Guess what … Rhys Hoskins homers again in blowout win

Phillies-Marlins observations: Guess what … Rhys Hoskins homers again in blowout win

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Yes, Rhys Hoskins hit another home run.
 
Moving on ... the Phillies routed the Miami Marlins for the second straight night Thursday, scoring a 10-0 win on the strength of three home runs in the second inning and a solid pitching performance from Jake Thompson.
 
The Phillies swept the reeling Marlins and outscored them, 18-1, these last two nights.
 
Miami has lost 15 of 17.
 
• Hoskins clubbed his 18th homer in 34 games and it was noteworthy because it was his first to the opposite field (see video). All of his previous 17 homers were from dead center to left field.
 
• We haven't seen a player work counts like Hoskins since Chase Utley and Jayson Werth. Ten of Hoskins' homers have come with two strikes.
 
• More Hoskins-mania: He has 130 RBIs between the minors and the majors this season, the most among all professional players. His combined total of 47 homers is second only to Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (54). Hoskins is slashing .314/.442/.805 (see story).
 
• The Marlins have been a frequent opponent of the Phillies during Hoskins' time in the majors. He already qualifies as a Marlins killer. In 10 games, he has eight homers and 19 RBIs against them.
 
• Freddy Galvis singled and belted a two-run homer. He is hitting .256 with 12 homers and 61 RBIs. He does not have a great on-base percentage (.308) but it is much improved from last year's mark of .274. He plays Gold Glove caliber defense. The Phillies front office wants to build a lineup around players with high on-base marks and that points to J.P. Crawford being the shortstop possibly as soon as opening day 2018 and Galvis being shopped for pitching this winter. Surely, the Phillies should be able to get value for a player like Galvis.
 
• The Phillies had 14 hits, including four homers. Every one of their starting position players collected a hit before the game was two innings old.
 
• Catcher Jorge Alfaro clubbed the first of three Phillies' homers in the second inning, a mammoth, 459-foot shot into the second deck above left field. It came off the bat at 109 mph. Alfaro's game needs work, particularly behind the plate, but he's got two big power tools in his bat and his arm. If he can ever add around those ...
 
• Marlins manager Don Mattingly started a watered-down lineup that did not include regular outfielders Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Together that group has hit 104 home runs this season. Mattingly decided to give the trio a rest after the Marlins lost, 8-1, Wednesday night. Mattingly, a longtime player, coach and manager, said that was the worst he'd ever felt after a game and he wanted to give his stud outfielders a chance to reset. Thursday night's pounding could not have made him feel any better.
 
• Mattingly also made a day-of-game change in his starting pitcher, replacing Jose Urena with Vance Worley. The change was made because the Marlins wanted to give their rotation an extra day of rest. Worley, who entered the game with a 6.58 ERA, hadn't started since Aug. 29 and had pitched just 1 1/3 innings of relief since then. It's tough to be sharp pitching that little. Predictably, Worley was not. He gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 inning. Worley surrendered 1,264 feet worth of homers in the second inning.
 
• The Phillies gave Thompson a 9-0 lead after two innings.
 
• Cameron Perkins' first big-league homer was a pinch-hit shot in the eighth. He went to the same Indianapolis high school as Phillies Hall of Famer Chuck Klein, a fact that Matt Breen does not give a hoot about because he thinks the world began on the day he graduated from high school.
 
• The Phillies entered the game with the second-worst record in the majors, percentage points ahead of San Francisco. The Phils have to win at least six of their final 16 games to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1961.
 
• The A's return to Philadelphia on Friday night. Pitching matchups for the interleague series against Oakland:
 
Friday night — RHP Mark Leiter Jr. (3-5, 4.84) vs. RHP Daniel Mengden (0-1, 7.07)
 
Saturday night — RHP Ben Lively (3-6, 3.86) vs. RHP Kendall Graveman (5-4, 4.48)
 
Sunday afternoon — RHP Henderson Alvarez (season debut) vs. LHP Sean Manaea (10-10, 4.65)

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

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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.