Phillies

Youngsters help Phillies steamroll Jacob deGrom, Mets at Citi Field

Youngsters help Phillies steamroll Jacob deGrom, Mets at Citi Field

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NEW YORK — Ben Lively crashed J.P. Crawford's coming-out party Tuesday night and no one had a problem with it.

Lively pitched seven innings of one-run ball and drove in four runs with a two-run single and a swing-hard-and-something-good-might-happen, two-run home run to lead the Phillies to a 9-1 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field (see observations).

Both of Lively's big hits came against Jacob deGrom, who has been an absolute beast against the Phillies for much of his career. The hard-throwing, floppy-haired right-hander entered the game with a 6-0 record and a 2.10 ERA in 10 career starts against the Phillies, including 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three starts this year.

It all changed Tuesday night. DeGrom gave up 10 hits and a career-high nine runs (three were unearned) in 3 2/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career. And this was after striking out the side in the first inning.

"It's nice to beat deGrom," manager Pete Mackanin said. "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best."

Though the Phillies entered the game with the worst record in the majors — watch out, the San Francisco Giants are gaining in the race for the No. 1 draft pick — this was still a satisfying win.

"This was a unique game in that every player on the team, including the pitcher, scored at least one run and had a hit," Mackanin said. "That was kind of neat."

The game also offered a potential glimpse of the future. With the highly touted Crawford having arrived earlier in the day (see story), the Phillies' starting lineup featured five players, Lively included, who opened the season at Triple A and are considered building blocks for the future. They all contributed:

Lively, of course, did it with his arm and his bat.

Rhys Hoskins had a single, a double and two walks to run his on-base percentage to .436 in 26 games.

Nick Williams had a three-run double, giving him 38 RBIs since coming up on June 30.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro had three hits to raise his batting average to .362 in 58 at-bats.

And, on his first night in the majors, the 22-year-old Crawford contributed, as well. He had his first big-league hit, scored a run and made a couple of nice plays at third base.

"These guys, great teammates, made me feel welcome from the get-go," Crawford said. "Right when I got here they made me feel at home and I can't thank them enough to kind of settle down the nerves before the game and just have fun out there.

"It was a dream come true. Stepping onto the field, looking around, I thought to myself, like, man, I'm really here. I've been working on it for so long. Just to finally live the dream. I can't wait to get started."

Crawford is a shortstop by trade and likely is the Phillies' shortstop of the future. But for now, he is getting reps at third base as Maikel Franco and his .223 batting average and .278 on-base percentage take a seat. Mackanin said Crawford would likely be back at third base on Wednesday night as the Phillies look for players that will make them better in the future.

The players involved in Tuesday night's win thought they provided a little peek at the future.

"Definitely," Crawford said. "We've been talking about that since Double A. Just to be here in this moment with everyone together, back together and hopefully sooner or later everyone comes back and stays healthy and we can do some damage later on."

Surrounded by players he'd been with in the minors, Lively was overwhelmed by a feeling of what might be down the road.

"Absolutely," he said. "You can't deny that. Having J.P. up here, I told him it fired me up having him hand me the ball from third base. It's awesome."

"It's nice to see a lot of young guys in the lineup," Mackanin said. "Every little bit helps. It gives everybody a little spurt of energy going down the stretch. It's nice to see. The guys swung the bats well. They played a good game."

Ironically, no one swung the bat better than Lively. He had zero hits in 16 Triple A at-bats this season and last and now has six hits, including two homers, in 21 big-league at-bats this season.

"I still laugh about not having a hit in Triple A," he said. "It's pretty funny. I hit pretty good in high school and had a couple of schools look at me as a third baseman, but the pitching route has worked out pretty well."

Lively's two-run homer in the fourth came against a deGrom slider and cleared the wall in right-center.

"I hit it pretty good," the rookie pitcher said with a laugh. "Right when I hit it I was like, 'Ooh, that's hit pretty good.'"

As much as Mackanin liked the home run, he liked this more: Lively delivered his eighth quality start (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs) in 11 outings.

"He's just a battler," Mackanin said. "He's a true competitor. He wants to win. He wants to be good. He goes right after hitters. He doesn't screw around with them. He gives it his best shot. He takes his chances. That's what I like."

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."