Phillies-Mets observations: Nick Pivetta hit hard in rain-shortened loss

Phillies-Mets observations: Nick Pivetta hit hard in rain-shortened loss


NEW YORK — Rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta was hit hard in the Phillies' 6-3 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
The game was ended in the sixth inning after a 57-minute rain delay.
The Mets ended up taking two of three from the Phillies and have taken 18 of the last 21 series between the two teams. The Mets are 37-17 against the Phils since the start of the 2015 season.

• For only the second time since May 27, the Phillies entered a game without the worst record in the majors. Tuesday's win gave them a winning percentage of .384. The San Francisco Giants entered the day at .383.
• Pivetta has a good arm. He's one of hardest throwers on the roster. But like many young pitchers on this club, he throws too many pitches — period — and too many over the heart of the plate. He was tagged for 10 hits and six runs over five innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out five. Pivetta has shown flashes of brilliance this season. There's something there. It just needs refinement. In a perfect world, he would have had more time at Triple A this season. But he was pressed into duty in the big leagues and has a 6.49 ERA in 22 starts. He should be better for the experience next season.
• The Phillies trailed, 6-0, after five innings. They cut the Mets' lead in half with three runs in the top of the sixth, two on a two-run homer by Nick Williams in the top of the sixth. It was the rookie's ninth homer and he hit it good — a 403-foot laser over the wall in right-center.
• Earlier in the day, the Phillies traded recently acquired reliever Juan Nicasio to the Cardinals for minor-league infield prospect Eliezer Alvarez, 22 (see story). Baseball America ranked Alvarez as the Cardinals' 10th-best prospect entering the season. Nicasio's time with the Phillies was brief as he was picked up on waivers from Pittsburgh last week. He made two appearances with the Phils and needed just three pitches to earn the win in his first one. "I was going to say he's available today — but not to me," manager Pete Mackanin quipped before the game. "He came in, threw three pitches, got a win and left." The Phillies made a good deal here. They got him for a $50,000 waiver fee and a week of salary. He wasn't in their plans for next season, so they spun him for a player that has some upside and could fit into the rebuild. The loser is the Pirates. They had tried to trade Nicasio but pulled him off revocable waivers when a rival team claimed him. Then they put him in irrevocable waivers and the Phillies claimed him. So the Pirates ended up getting nothing for him while the Phillies picked up a player with a chance.
• Much of the game was played in a chilly rain. The crowd was so small you could hear the infielders snap their gum. As the rain fell steadily in the middle of the sixth inning, the head of the grounds crew brought a computer tablet out to the field so the umpires could get a look at the weather radar. The umpires called for the tarp moments later.
• Odubel Herrera was not in the lineup. He was scheduled to have the day off as part of his recovery from a hamstring strain. He had returned to the lineup on Tuesday. Herrera is scheduled to play the next two games then get another day off before being turned loose. As for Aaron Altherr, also recovering from a hamstring strain: Wet grounds pregame prevented him from going through a scheduled base-running test. He hopes to be able to go through the test Thursday in Washington and get some playing time later on this weekend.
• Cameron Rupp did the catching, but before the game Mackanin admitted, "I need to see (Jorge) Alfaro more." So look for Alfaro to get an increase in action as the Phillies get him ready for next season. Alfaro is out of minor-league options and could be the Phils' primary catcher in April.
• The Phillies move on to Washington for four against the postseason-bound Nationals on Thursday night. Here are the pitching matchups:
Thursday night — RHP Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.72) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (11-9, 4.48)
Friday night — RHP Jake Thompson (1-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (13-5, 2.19)
Saturday night — RHP Mark Leiter Jr. (2-5, 4.74) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (5-4, 3.29)
Sunday afternoon — RHP Ben Lively (3-5, 3.92) vs. TBA.

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


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.

Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles


Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

WASHINGTON -- Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 -- also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended (see full story).

Turner, Taylor repay Dodgers' patience by sharing NLCS MVP
CHICAGO -- Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honors in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.

In Turner's case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over.

In Taylor's case, it was Los Angeles' willingness to gamble that an offseason of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.

The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of goggles still perched on Turner's head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.

"He's a dynamic player and a table setter," said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBIs. "When he goes, we usually go as a team."

"I talk to him as much as I can. He's one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did," said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBIs. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster (see full story).

Rare Jackie Robinson rookie jersey up for auction
NEW YORK -- A rare jersey from Jackie Robinson's historic rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers 70 years ago could be available for someone with a few spare millions.

The jersey, part of a Heroes of Sports offering by Heritage Auctions, has been certified by Mears, one of the top memorabilia authentication companies. It is accompanied by a letter from Robinson's widow, Rachel, saying it is the one brought home by the Hall of Famer at the end of the 1947 season, when he became the first black player in the majors and earned Rookie of the Year honors.

"This is the only one known from the `47 season, the only one that survived," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It stayed in his closet for five decades plus until it was eventually sold to a private collector in the early 2000s."

The online auction opened Friday and closes at 11 p.m. on Nov. 19. The entire collection is from one owner and can be viewed on Heritage's website. Other items available for bidding include Babe Ruth's pants from the Hall of Fame induction in 1939, Keith Hernandez's 1978 Gold Glove award, a Wilt Chamberlain jersey from 1966, Bill Vukovich's Indianapolis 500 trophy from 1953 and Muhammad Ali's shoes from his fight against Ken Norton in 1973.

Ivy said the Robinson jersey has been valued at more than $3 million. He wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed that.

"It's tough to estimate a piece like this -- it's a one of a kind," he said. "As far as collectibles a rookie (jersey) is always sought after, something that's significant."