Phillies

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Much better matchups this weekend for Rhys Hoskins

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Much better matchups this weekend for Rhys Hoskins

Phillies (42-70) vs. Mets (52-60)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The big stories coming out of last night's Phillies game were the debut of Rhys Hoskins and the confusing finger injury that limited Vince Velasquez to one inning.

The game's result was yet another embarrassing Phillies loss to the Mets, continuing a theme that has lasted six seasons. 

1. Wait ... whose house is this?
The Mets' personnel doesn't even seem to matter at this point. When they get to South Philadelphia, all they do is clobber baseballs.

Even without CBP-lovers Jay Bruce (now with Cleveland) and Lucas Duda (now with Tampa), the Mets hit four homers that accounted for nine of their runs in a 10-0 win. 

The Phillies are 14-37 against the Mets since 2012 ... at home. That's a .275 winning percentage. That's a 45-117 full-season pace. That's pathetic.

That 14-37 mark vs. the Mets since 2012 is the second-worst divisional record for any major-league team at its own park. (The Mets are 15-41 at home since 2012 against the Nationals.)

In the last 22 meetings at Citizens Bank Park, the Mets have 50 home runs. Ricky Bottalico said last night on Phillies Postgame Live that if he was in the Mets' front office, he'd be pushing to have Citi Field's dimensions changed to CBP's — and he wasn't joking.

The Mets had 16 men on base last night. The Phillies had five. Granted, the Phillies faced a locked-in Jacob deGrom.

2. Hoskins' debut
How 'bout that for a first test? "Hey Rhys, we know you've been playing left field for three days, but go do it in a major-league park, and while you're at it, face one of the game's best pitchers."

Batting seventh, Hoskins went 0 for 2 with a walk.

In his first at-bat against deGrom, Hoskins took the first pitch out of the strike zone but it was called a strike because deGrom is an ace and Hoskins is a rookie. Those little subconscious biases exist for umpires. The at-bat ended with a nasty two-seam fastball that froze Hoskins for a strikeout.

In his second at-bat, Hoskins hit a ball sharply up the middle but the Mets had him positioned perfectly so it was a double play.

In his final plate appearance, Hoskins fouled off two pitches on a 3-2 count and worked a leadoff walk.

Every major-league pitcher poses some sort of challenge, but these next three games against the Mets should give Hoskins a chance to succeed. Tonight, he'll face Seth Lugo, who has a 4.55 ERA. On Saturday, the Phillies face Steven Matz, who has a .315 opponents' batting average vs. righties. On Sunday, the Phils get Chris Flexen and his 8.49 ERA.

3. One of two extremes
This matchup feels like it will either be great or terrible for Nick Pivetta. He's a hard-throwing right-hander who strikes out a lot of batters and gives up a lot of home runs. The Mets are a boom-bust offense that strikes out a lot and hits a lot of home runs.

The guess here is that we'll either be looking at a Pivetta line of six innings, a couple runs and 10 strikeouts, or 3⅔ innings, three homers and a bunch of runs. Either is a possibility for a pitcher who has a mid-to-high-90s fastball and a tight slider but throws too many pitches in the heart of the plate.

Pivetta is 4-7 with a 5.89 ERA in 16 starts. He's struck out 84 batters in 84 innings and allowed 17 home runs, 15 to right-handed hitters. Lefties have hit .228 with a .658 OPS against Pivetta; righties have hit .298 with a 1.005 OPS.

Pivetta had an excellent start against the Mets on July 2, but that was at pitcher-friendly Citi Field, where the Mets' dominance over the Phillies is not nearly as pronounced. On that night, Pivetta allowed just one hit over seven innings, a solo homer to T.J. Rivera.

With how frustrating the season has been for Vince Velasquez, the Phillies would really like to see Pivetta finish strong so they can enter the offseason knowing they have at least one decent, hard thrower in the rotation. Both pitchers have a lot of upside but it's tough to have two guys so inconsistent on the same five-man staff. 

4. Conforto or Nola?
It's a debate we'll be having for years. Michael Conforto was taken three picks after Aaron Nola in the 2014 MLB draft and both have had eerily similar careers to this point.

Conforto, just like Nola, was very impressive as a rookie in 2015 before struggling in 2016. Just like the Phillies with Nola, the Mets went into last winter seeking some answers about Conforto.

Both have been the most promising part of their team's 2017 season. Nola has been on a historic run of allowing two or fewer runs, and Conforto has been an on-base and power machine. In 389 plate appearances this season, Conforto has hit .290/.396/.573 with 24 homers and 61 RBIs. He's either going to be atop the Mets' lineup or in the middle of it for years.

I sent out a Twitter poll last May asking fans which of the two players they'd take if they got into a time machine and went back to draft night 2014. The response was 85 percent Nola, and that was before he hit a new level this season. I sent it out again Friday and am curious to see whether it changes.

5. This and that
• Mark Leiter Jr. made some Phillies history last night, becoming the first Phillies reliever ever to strike out at least seven batters in two straight appearances.

In his last two outings, Leiter has allowed one run in 9⅓ innings with no walks and 16 K's. Might the Phillies have found themselves a Chris Devenski-like relief weapon?

• Can Jorge Alfaro get a start? Cameron Rupp has been behind the plate for seven of the Phillies' last eight games.

• If you didn't already believe this was the year of the home run, check this out: In 2014, there were 57 players with 20-plus home runs. This season, with about 50 games remaining for every team, there are already 59 players to do so. The Phillies have none of the 59, but Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph will likely both reach 20.

MLB Playoffs: Dodgers crush Cubs to reach 1st World Series in 29 years

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MLB Playoffs: Dodgers crush Cubs to reach 1st World Series in 29 years

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an L.A. story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs -- matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik?. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

Out with a bang
Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

Lights out
Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

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).