Phillies

Phillies-Nationals observations: Strasburg dominates as Phils end trip with a thud

Phillies-Nationals observations: Strasburg dominates as Phils end trip with a thud

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WASHINGTON -- Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker held most of his regulars out of the lineup Sunday, but not Stephen Strasburg. Much to the Phillies' chagrin, the right-hander got the ball and was dominant in leading a 3-2 Washington win.
 
Strasburg pitched eight shutout innings, allowed two hits (both singles), a walk and struck out 10.
 
He has pitched 34 straight scoreless innings, a Montreal/Washington franchise record. He has not allowed a run in four straight starts.
 
Strasburg left with a 3-0 lead. The Phillies scored two runs in the in the ninth, on a Nick Williams base hit against Ryan Madson, but got no closer.

Trea Turner was the only Washington regular in the starting lineup. He tripled and scored the Nats' first run in the sixth and later homered.

The Nationals' win over the Phillies combined with the Marlins' loss to the Braves officially clinched the National League East title for Washington.

The Phillies went 5-6 on the 11-game trip and Williams had 15 RBIs.
 
• Battling Ben Lively delivered his third straight quality start. He became first Phillies pitcher not named Aaron Nola to pitch into the eighth inning this season. He gave up five hits and three runs in completing eight. He walked one, struck out seven and received no run support.

• While teams like the Dodgers, Astros, Cubs and Indians have gotten much of the spotlight this season, the Nationals have played a bit under the radar. But they will be a tough team to reckon with in the postseason. With Max Scherzer (2.32), Gio Gonzalez (2.50) and Strasburg (2.64), they have the second-, third- and fourth-best ERAs in the National League, and the July acquisitions of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle have bolstered the bullpen. Of course, they still need to get Bryce Harper healthy and there's optimism they will. Watch out for the Nats.

• Pete Mackanin had considered playing J.P. Crawford at second base but backed off on that because he wanted to keep Cesar Hernandez's bat in the lineup after Hernandez had three hits Saturday night. Crawford got the start at third, but Mackanin kept Maikel Franco in the lineup after he'd homered in two straight games. Franco played first base for the first time since 2015 when he played two games there. Franco had not even taken a ground ball at first base since then. He borrowed Andres Blanco's first baseman's glove for the game. Rhys Hoskins returned to left field. A lot of the positional movement is dictated by wanting to get Crawford at-bats without thrusting Freddy Galvis to the background. Galvis is a Gold Glove candidate and could be a trade candidate this winter. "I want guys to play in different places," Mackanin said. "But I want to try to keep the guys that are hitting in the lineup." Aaron Altherr got the start in center field as Odubel Herrera sat out.

• Franco had the Phillies' only two hits against Strasburg, both singles. More on him in the coming days, but he's begun to make adjustments at the plate, especially with his hands and his footwork at the plate. Time will tell what it will bring.

• Tough day for Hoskins — he struck out three times against Strasburg. It happens.

• Crawford struck out twice against Strasburg then worked a full count against Madson and yanked a single in the hole between first and second. Crawford is 4 for 20 with seven strikeouts and no walks after his first six games.

• The Phillies have just 19 games remaining and 16 of them are at home. They are off Monday and begin a 10-game homestand Tuesday night with the first of three against the Miami Marlins. Here are the pitching matchups for that series:

Tuesday night — RHP Nick Pivetta (5-10, 6.49) vs. LHP Dillon Peters (0-1, 2.25)
 
Wednesday night — RHP Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.71) vs. RHP Dan Straily (9-8, 3.95)

Thursday night — RHP Jake Thompson (1-2, 5.23) vs. RHP Jose Urena (13-6, 3.61)

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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USA Today Images

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.