Phillies

Rhys Hoskins the 'alien' lifts Phillies to wild '2-celebration' win

Rhys Hoskins the 'alien' lifts Phillies to wild '2-celebration' win

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It took the Phillies two tries to get it right, but they finally had their walk-off victory celebration on Tuesday night.

Or was it Wednesday morning?

Oh, what does it matter.

The Phillies opened a 10-game homestand with a wild win over the Miami Marlins. The Phils prevailed, 9-8, on an RBI double to left by rookie Nick Williams with two outs in the bottom of the 15th inning (see observations).

As Aaron Altherr (he reached on a one-out base hit) sprinted home with the winning run, Phillies players streamed out of the dugout to mob Williams, who had a three-hit night. His game-winning hit came just after midnight and it ended four hours and 57 minutes of baseball that wasn't always pretty.

The Phillies trailed, 7-2, after starter Nick Pivetta struggled, but they stormed back in the late innings. Rhys Hoskins smacked the first of his two home runs to help get the comeback started. The Phils scored three runs in the eighth, then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning on a pinch-hit single by Hyun Soo Kim.

Actually, the Phillies thought they had won the game on Kim's hit in the ninth inning. The hit scored Williams with the tying run and Cesar Hernandez initially appeared to slide home with winning run. That set off a Phillies' celebration as players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Kim. He was doused with bubble gum and had his jersey torn off by jubilant teammates.

Turned out the celebration was premature. The Marlins challenged the initial safe call on the field and won. Hernandez was ruled out at the plate and Marlins rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton had his third assist of the night — one at second, one at third and one at home. The Phillies' celebration went for naught (forcing the grounds crew to scurry out and clean up the remnants) and the game moved on to extra innings.

Marcell Ozuna quickly put the Marlins ahead with a solo homer off Hector Neris in the top of the 10th and hard-throwing Miami right-hander Brian Ellington got the first two outs in the bottom of the inning.

The Marlins were one out away from a victory in 10 innings. All that stood in their way was Hoskins, and that's a pretty formidable roadblock lately. Hoskins, who has uncanny plate discipline for a rookie, worked the count to 2-0 and got the fastball he was looking for. It came in at 100 mph and left at 102 mph. It landed 413 feet away, over the centerfield wall, tying the game at 8-8.

For Hoskins, the home run felt good not only because it deadlocked the game. It also came against the same pitcher who hit him in the hand two weeks ago in Miami, knocking him from the lineup for a day. 

What Hoskins is doing to baseballs is nuts. He did not hit his first home run until Aug. 14. He now has 16 and that's just five off Tommy Joseph's team lead of 21. With 18 games left, it's not out of the question that Hoskins could lead this team in home runs, and that's rather amazing considering he did not come up until Aug. 10.

"He's an alien," Williams said. "He's not human. That's not real. That's crazy. And I'm hitting behind him, too, and I'm just constantly watching him and I'm like, 'Oh, my God.' What he's doing is amazing. He plays hard. He's a smart player. And what he's doing, I just love watching and being a part of it."

Hoskins laughed when he heard that Williams had called him an alien.

"That guy is pretty good himself, too," Hoskins said. "So I guess we can be alien friends."

Since starting his big-league career 0 for 10 in his first three games, Hoskins is hitting .327 with a .449 on-base percentage and a .827 slugging percentage.

Williams has also been impressive. In 65 games in the majors, he's hitting .292 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs. Williams had a bit of a reputation for not hustling in the minors. But his work ethic and energy level have been outstanding in the majors. He competes every play. In fact, the whole team did Tuesday night. The bullpen picked up 10 innings and allowed just one run that made the comeback and the win possible.

"We battled," Williams said. "This says a lot, especially for a team in last place. We're constantly trying to compete each and every day. These guys are hungry and they want to show they deserve to be up here. Tonight just shows we fight and we compete.

"We had two walk-offs today. I think that was the first time in the history of baseball that's taken place. It was a two-celebration game. I'm just glad one of them counted."

MLB Notes: Braves lose 13 international players in sanctions

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MLB Notes: Braves lose 13 international players in sanctions

ATLANTA -- Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred hit the Atlanta Braves with heavy sanctions, including the loss of 13 players, on Tuesday for rules violations committed by the team in the international player market.

Manfred also placed former Braves general manager John Coppolella on the permanently ineligible list. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley, who was the team's international scouting chief, is suspended from performing services for any team for one year.

Manfred said an investigation conducted by Major League Baseball determined the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017 by moving bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Most notable among the players the Braves will lose is Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016 (see full story).

Yankees: Judge has left shoulder surgery
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees say slugger Aaron Judge had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder and is expected to be ready for spring training.

The operation was performed Monday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. The Yankees say the procedure involved a loose-body removal and cartilage cleanup.

The 25-year-old Judge hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 155 games this season, helping New York make it to the AL Championship Series, where they lost to the eventual World Series champion Astros. He was a unanimous selection for AL Rookie of the Year and finished second to Houston infielder Jose Altuve in the AL MVP race.

MLB: Morgan urges voters to keep steroid users out of HOF
Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep "known steroid users" out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball's steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall's board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

"Steroid users don't belong here," Morgan wrote. "What they did shouldn't be accepted. Times shouldn't change for the worse."

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions (see full story).

Cubs: Venable leaves front office to be base coach
CHICAGO -- Will Venable is leaving the Chicago Cubs front office to be their first base coach.

The former major league outfielder was hired last summer as a special assistant to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.

The 35-year-old Venable replaces Brandon Hyde, who has been promoted to bench coach for manager Joe Maddon.

The Cubs also announced Tuesday that they had hired Jim Benedict as a special assistant to baseball operations. Benedict spent the previous two seasons as the vice president for pitching development for the Miami Marlins.

Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

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Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

The Phillies added four promising pitching prospects to their 40-man roster on Monday. In a corresponding move, they subtracted a notable name.

Right-handers Franklyn Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Taveras and lefty Ranger Suarez were all added to the roster, protecting them from being selected by another club in next month's Rule 5 draft.

The Phillies also added an infielder, Engelb Vielma, to the roster. He was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.

To make room for these additions, the team needed to clear three spots on its roster, which had been at 38. Left-handed pitcher Elniery Garcia cleared waivers and was sent outright to the minor leagues while right-handers Alberto Tirado and Mark Appel were designated for assignment. The Phillies will try to trade Tirado and Appel before placing them on waivers. If they clear waivers, they could stay in the system.

The Phillies cut Appel loose after he'd struggled with injury and ineffectiveness during two seasons in the organization. The 26-year-old right-hander from Stanford University had twice been a first-round draft pick, by Pittsburgh in 2012 and by Houston — No. 1 overall — in 2013. The Phillies acquired him from the Astros as part of the package for Ken Giles in December 2015, but he never lived up to his huge potential.

"A lot of the tools that Mark showed as an amateur that led to him being the No. 1 overall pick are still there," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "He has simply struggled with performance. It's certainly not for lack of effort on his part. We think the world of the kid and wish him well. It was a tough decision."

Tirado, 22, was acquired from Toronto in July 2015 as part of the return for Ben Revere. He arrived with a fastball that could reach triple digits on the radar gun and that promise earned him a spot on the 40-man a year ago. Tirado suffered a shoulder injury early last season and struggled in the minors.

All four of the pitchers that the Phillies protected are products of the team's international scouting department. Taveras, 24, was a standout at three levels in the minors last season and could be in the picture in Philadelphia in 2018. He led the system in strikeouts in 2016 and 2017.

"He knows how to get guys out and often times that comes via the strikeout," Klentak said. "No matter where he pitches, he rises to the occasion and puts up a strong performance."

Kilome, 22, and Dominguez, 22, are both power arms who project to see significant time at Double A in 2018. Suarez, 22, should also get to Double A at some point in 2018. He had a 2.27 ERA in 22 starts at two levels of Single A ball in 2017.

"He may have been the breakout pitcher of the year for the Phillies," Klentak said. "We'd always heard a lot about him and this year he took his performance to another level.

"We're really excited for all four of these guys. All have worked extremely hard and they are all deserving of being added to our roster. Our international scouting operation, Sal Agostinelli and his group, continues to crank out players. They've done a great job. These four pitchers have earned this through their work ethic and performance. By no means is this the ultimate goal for them, but it's one step closer. We believe really strongly in the futures of these four pitchers."

Vielma, 23, is a top defensive shortstop who can also play second and third base. He was waived by Minnesota in September and claimed by the Giants, who let him go in a roster crunch.

"He's an intriguing claim," Klentak said. "He adds depth to our infield."

The Phillies’ roster is at 40. The team will have to clear space if it wants to add a player in next month's Rule 5 draft. Last November, the Phils added 11 players to the 40-man roster and still lost lefty reliever Hoby Milner to Cleveland. Milner failed to make the Indians' opening-day roster, returned to the organization in March and ended up making 37 appearances for the big club after coming up in late June. He was one of 12 rookies to make their big-league debut with the Phillies in 2017.

Notable players who were not protected include outfielders Carlos Tocci and Andrew Pullin and pitcher Brandon Leibrandt.

"One of the byproducts of a strong system is every year there are some tough omissions," Klentak said. "There are always tough calls. But we look at that as a good problem to have."