Phillies

Phils fail to support Hamels again in loss to D-backs

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Phils fail to support Hamels again in loss to D-backs

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PHOENIX – One step forward, two steps back. That’s life these days for the Phillies, who suffered their 20th loss of the season Thursday night, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks (see Instant Replay).

If you’d like to add the word infuriating before the final score, feel free. This one fit the description -- for a lot of reasons.

First was the starting pitching. While it’s true that Cole Hamels did not have his best command -- he continues to walk batters at a rate uncharacteristic of him -- he battled and got outs when he needed them. He allowed just two runs in six innings and gave his team a chance to win, but the offense, as it often is when Hamels pitches, was pitiful.

Only one of the Phils’ six hits was for extra bases.

They were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

They made two baserunning mistakes that turned out to be super costly in a close game.

Hamels failed to turn a double play that might ultimately have helped prevent a run.

The D-backs weren’t a whole lot better. They were 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position, made a bad baserunning play of their own and scored both their runs on groundouts.

“The game was sitting right there for us,” said manager Charlie Manuel, whose team is 16-20. “We didn’t get it done.”

That’s a familiar refrain with Hamels on the mound. He is 1-5 and the Phillies are 1-7 in his eight starts. Hamels hasn’t pitched nearly as bad as that record. He has lost his last two starts by scores of 2-0 and 2-1. In April, he suffered a 2-0 loss and took a no-decision in a 2-1 loss. The Phils have scored just 17 runs while Hamels has been in the game this season.

Hamels has frequently said he’s gotten past the point of letting run-support issues frustrate him. He says he’s learned to focus on executing pitches and he’s not all that happy with that part of his game. He walked five batters (one intentionally) in this game to run his walks total to 22 in 51 1/3 innings.

“I’ve got to stop the walks,” Hamels said afterward.

Hamels did show some noticeable frustration in this game. In the fifth inning, he got mad at himself on the mound when he failed to start a double play on a comebacker to the mound with runners on first and second. The runners moved up when Hamels had to settle for one. The game was scoreless at that point with opposing pitcher Patrick Corbin coming up. The Phillies played the infield in for Corbin’s first swing -- a foul ball -- then moved it back. Corbin responded with a ground ball to shortstop Jimmy Rollins for a run. If Rollins had still been up, the run probably would not have scored.

“I pushed him back,” Manuel said. “I didn’t want them scoring two runs.”

Hamels showed frustration as that run scored.

“The frustration started with the ball hit to me and not catching it and getting a double play,” he said. “I ended up getting the ground ball I needed, but not the result.”

An inning later, Arizona eked out a run against Hamels on a heads-up drag bunt by Gerardo Parra.

Parra had a big game in right field. He gunned down Delmon Young trying to stretch a single into a double in the second inning and in the seventh turned a would-be RBI single by Kevin Frandsen into a fielder’s choice and a big out that stunted a potential Phillies’ rally.

With the Phils down, 2-0, Frandsen appeared to drop a soft liner into right field for an RBI single, but John Mayberry Jr., holding close to first in case the ball was caught by the second baseman, got a late jump to second and was forced out by Parra. One run scored on the fielder’s choice. In the end, it was a missed chance for the Phillies who would have had the bases loaded and one out with a run in if Mayberry hadn’t been nailed at second.

“It was a softly hit ball,” Mayberry said. “I was looking at the second baseman in pursuit of the ball. I thought he might have a play on it. When he lunged for it, I took a jab step back toward first because I didn’t want to get doubled off first. The jab step cost me.”

Manuel said, “In order for him to be safe he has to get a better read on the ball.”

Mayberry was hardly the only offensive culprit. Jimmy Rollins was 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position. He is 5 for 33 in those situations this season. Ryan Howard was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against the lefty Corbin, who is now 5-0. Howard is 6 for 34 (.176) with 16 Ks against lefties this season.

As a team, the Phils are 3-5 against lefty starters this season.

One step forward, two steps back. Which way will the Phillies go Friday night?

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.

Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

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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."