Phillies

With touching sendoff, Phillies send Pete Mackanin out with a day he'll never forget

With touching sendoff, Phillies send Pete Mackanin out with a day he'll never forget

BOX SCORE

Lineup card in hand, Pete Mackanin began his final pregame walk to home plate as Phillies manager. A ripple of applause rose in the stands and swelled with every step Mackanin took. By the time he was done handing his lineup card to the umpires, the applause had become a standing ovation and it accompanied Mackanin all the way back to the dugout, where his players, without planning or coaxing, spilled out to salute him on his last day as the team's skipper.
 
"I almost started crying," the 66-year-old baseball lifer said when it was all over Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "It was really special. It meant a lot to me. I looked at (bench coach Larry) Bowa and said, 'Is this for me?' He said, 'Yeah, tip your cap.' I didn't know what to do.
 
"My wife and son were in the stands in the second row and I couldn't look at them. I knew my wife would be crying. I didn't want to start crying myself."
 
Three days after being told he would not manage the club in 2018, Mackanin's team blew out the New York Mets, 11-0, in the season finale (see observations). The beginning and end of the game dripped with symbolism, from the touching sendoff of the outgoing manager to the eighth-inning, three-run, inside-the-park home run by Nick Williams, one of the exciting rookies that helped the growing team post a 37-38 record after the All-Star break.
 
"What a way to end that game with an inside-the-park home run," Mackanin said. "A great day for the Phillies, a great day for me. It was really special, probably one of the best days of my career.
 
"I can't remember all the run scoring, but it's been a special day for me. I want to thank the fans for coming out all season."
 
Mackanin took over as Phillies manager when Ryne Sandberg resigned in late June 2015 and recorded a 174-238 record as skipper. The rebuilding team endured a difficult first half this season, going 29-58 before the All-Star break, but played well under Mackanin down the stretch. The Phils went 16-13 in September.
 
For the season, the Phillies were 66-96 and finished third from the bottom in the majors. They will pick third in the draft next year.
 
The strong finish was not enough to save Mackanin's job. General manager Matt Klentak came aboard in October 2015 and inherited Mackanin as skipper. They had a good working relationship, but Klentak said Friday he wanted a new voice and new style to lead the team. Mackanin will stay on as a front-office adviser.
 
"We have a lot of good-looking young talent that we can be proud of and look forward to the future with," he said.
 
Some of that young talent was on display Sunday. Maikel Franco, who has yet to put his talent together in a consistent way, slugged a three-run home run, his 24th of the season and 49th over the last two. Odubel Herrera clubbed his 42nd double. Williams punctuated the day with his inside-the-park homer. Starting pitcher Nick Pivetta survived five walks and a hit batsman to register five scoreless innings and seven strikeouts in earning the win.
 
Williams finished with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 83 games. Rhys Hoskins sputtered to the finish line. He went just 7 for 52 (.135) with 19 strikeouts and 11 walks over the final two weeks, but, oh, those 18 home runs in his first month in the majors electrified the town and helped the Phillies do a lot of winning over the final weeks of the season.
 
"One thing I'm real happy about is the players never quit," Mackanin said. "They played hard and played with energy. I'm real proud of them for that.
 
"Some of the players who were with us from the beginning of the year showed improvement and with the emergence of a couple of the young guys, it gave us a spurt of energy and a more positive attitude. Looking forward, if you combine those two things then there's a lot of things we can feel good about going into next year."
 
Mackanin said he would keep the lineup card from his last game as Phillies skipper as a memento.
 
And, of course, that pregame salute from the fans and the players will always hold a special place in his heart.
 
"I'll remember it forever," he said.

MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

uspresswire-cubs-javier-baez.jpg
USA Today Images

MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Chicago Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to held the defending World Series champion Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Manager Joe Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (see full recap).

Tanaka, Yankees blank Astros to take ALCS lead
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the New York Yankees finally solved Houston Astros nemesis Dallas Keuchel, beating the ace lefty 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home and move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since 2009.

The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.

Just days ago, Houston was up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home in this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Yankees storm back for win over Astros to even ALCS

uspresswire-yankess-castro-judge.jpg
USA Today Images

MLB Playoffs: Yankees storm back for win over Astros to even ALCS

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge ignited a rousing rally with a home run, then doubled during a four-run eighth inning to spur the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 6-4 Tuesday night and level the AL Championship Series 2-2.

The Yankees trailed 4-0 against starter Lance McCullers Jr. until Judge homered leading off the seventh. He tied it with a line drive that nearly left the park in the eighth and scored on Gary Sanchez's go-ahead two-run double off loser Ken Giles.

The Yankees have rallied from a second straight 0-2 series deficit -- they beat Cleveland in the Division Series by winning three in a row to take that best-of-five matchup.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect ninth, and New York improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs.

Masahiro Tanaka pitches for New York against Dallas Keuchel in Game 5 Wednesday and rematch of the opener, won by the Astros 2-1 (see full recap).

Dodgers on brink of World Series after shutout
CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish pitched sparkling ball into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles set a franchise record with its sixth consecutive playoff win. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip -- on a long foul ball in the first inning.

Looking for a four-game sweep and their 22nd NL pennant, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since their last championship in 1988. Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.

Los Angeles was eliminated by Chicago in the NLCS last year, but this is a different group of Dodgers. The lineup is patient and pesky and the pitching staff is much deeper, especially since Darvish was acquired in a trade with Texas in the final minutes before the July 31 deadline (see full recap).