Phillies' promising signs for future on full display in rout of Marlins

Phillies' promising signs for future on full display in rout of Marlins


Pete Mackanin provided an interesting little observation after watching Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins combine to dominate the Miami Marlins in an 8-1 Phillies' victory Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park (see observations).
"That game reminded me of when I was here in '09, '10, '11 — good pitching, good hitting, power, good defense," Mackanin said. "Very reminiscent of when I first arrived."
Those Phillies teams that Mackanin mentioned were some of the best in franchise history. They were all division winners. One of them was a World Series team. Another won a club record 102 games.
Clearly, Mackanin was not saying that this Phillies team was like those Phillies teams. This Phillies team is on a rebuild and will have its hands full avoiding 100 losses.
But out of the rubble of this difficult season rises some hopeful signs for the future and they were on display in this game:
• Nola has put together a solid season. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball and struck out a career-high 11 to notch the win. His ERA in 25 starts is 3.60.
• Odubel Herrera had three hits in the game, including a booming, 424-foot home run to right field. He is batting .371 since June 28.
• Nick Williams came up from Triple A on June 30. He had a pair of hits and an RBI, giving him 48 in 66 games with the big club.
And then there's that Hoskins guy. He has seemingly provided a highlight every day and he did it again in this game with his third homer in two games. He added a sacrifice fly, a walk and a single.
Hoskins, Williams and Nola are all 24. Herrera is 25. Maybe one day they will make up the core of the next championship Phillies team.
"Nola had an outstanding performance," Mackanin said. "I was really happy to see Hoskins come out of his two or three at-bat slump of not hitting a home run. Odubel's home run reminded of a grand slam that Ryan Howard hit to the third deck. These guys are really swinging the bats well. It's good to see Williams and Hoskins solidify the middle of the lineup."
Hoskins has 17 homers in 33 games in the majors. Before coming up, he hit 29 in 115 games at Triple A. That's 46 on the season.
After the game, Hoskins was asked if he ever reaches the point where he surprises himself.
"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I had to give a little look into the dugout and just kind of shrug. I don’t know, it’s fun, especially to win a couple in a row the way that we have. It feels good in the clubhouse, it does.
"Like I've said before, I’m confident in the ability that I have, I really am. And the work that I’m doing before games is putting me in a situation to be successful once the game starts. I know this is not going to last forever. This is baseball, it’s not going to last forever. I’ve just been lucky enough that I’m able to kind of ride this natural wave for what, almost a month now. I’m just going to try to keep riding it as much as I can."
Everybody is talking about Hoskins. Everybody in baseball knows what he's doing. He is hitting .310 with an on-base percentage of .434 and a slugging percentage of .784. He has walked 24 times.
"It's pretty amazing," Nola said. "His approach is so good. If he doesn't hit a home run, he gets a hit. If he doesn't get a hit, he walks. He's definitely sparked this offense.
"I get texts every now and then like, 'Hoskins is unbelievable.' I'm thinking like, 'Yeah, we all know.' The guy is awesome."
Hoskins has even caught the eye of Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' slugger who leads the majors with 54 home runs. They chatted around the first base bag Tuesday night.
Did Stanton tell Hoskins to stop stealing his thunder?
"No, not at all," Hoskins said with a laugh. "He's got all the thunder in baseball right now. He's chasing history."
So what did Stanton tell Hoskins?
“Just kind of keep going," Hoskins said. "Obviously the work is going to need to be there for your whole career. He just kind of reiterated that.
“It was pretty cool. That guy is obviously a star in this game. Especially with the year that he’s having, to be able to share that with him is pretty cool.”
Everyone is sharing in Hoskins' success. The attendance at Citizens Bank Park was just 16,745 on Wednesday night, but the fans loved the show he put on.
The manager liked it, too.
"Actually, I'm going to get his autograph on a ball today," Mackanin said. "It's really outstanding. It's fun to watch."

Red Sox name Alex Cora manager; Mets offer job to Mickey Callaway

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Red Sox name Alex Cora manager; Mets offer job to Mickey Callaway

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox have hired Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora to be their new manager.

The team made the announcement on Sunday, a day after Cora's Astros reached the World Series.

Cora replaces John Farrell, who was fired this month despite winning back-to-back AL East titles. Farrell's teams won the 2013 World Series, finished last twice and then in each of the past two years won the division but got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Hispanic manager in Red Sox history.

He played 14 years in the major leagues before retiring in 2011, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox. He was a member of Boston's 2007 World Series team.

Cora has never managed before.

Reports: Mets offer manager job to Indians coach Callaway
NEW YORK — It appears the New York Mets have settled on their choice for a manager.

Several media outlets are reporting the team has offered the job to Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The New York Post was the first to report the Mets were in talks with Callaway, saying a deal is being finalized.

When contacted Sunday, multiple Mets officials declined to comment.

With his contract set to expire, Terry Collins stepped down at the end of the season after seven years as Mets manager and accepted a position as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson.

The 42-year-old Callaway has been Cleveland's pitching coach for the past five seasons under highly successful manager Terry Francona. Led by ace right-hander Corey Kluber, the Indians led the major leagues with a 3.30 ERA this season, one year after reaching the World Series.

Callaway has never managed at any professional level.

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


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."