Phillies

MLB Playoffs: Indians rally past Yankees in 13 innings for 2-0 series lead

uspresswire-indians-team-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

MLB Playoffs: Indians rally past Yankees in 13 innings for 2-0 series lead

CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes singled home Austin Jackson from second base with none out in the 13th inning as the Cleveland Indians rallied from five runs down to stun the New York Yankees 9-8 Friday and snatch a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.

Jackson drew a leadoff walk in the 13th from Dellin Betances and stole second. Gomes went to a full count before pulling his bouncer just inside the third-base bag, easily scoring Jackson. The Indians poured out of their dugout to mob Gomes, who ended the 5-hour, 8-minute thriller.

The Indians overcame an 8-3 deficit, a terrible start by ace Corey Kluber and a potentially serious injury to slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam in the sixth to rally Cleveland, right after a close call on a hit by pitch that the Yankees didn't challenge.

The Yankees had their chances late, but they stranded the go-ahead run at third in the ninth and 10th -- and had pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes picked off second in the 11th by Gomes from the behind the plate.

Cleveland will try for a sweep in Game 3 Sunday at Yankee Stadium (see full recap).

Cubs open title defense by blanking Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Kyle Hendricks outpitched Stephen Strasburg, and the Chicago Cubs opened defense of their first World Series title in 108 years by beating the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Friday in Game 1 of their NL Division Series.

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo produced RBI singles in the sixth inning for the first two hits off an otherwise-dominant Strasburg. Hendricks was even better, giving up only two singles in seven strong innings.

Rizzo added an RBI double off reliever Ryan Madson in the eighth. Carl Edwards Jr. threw a perfect inning and Wade Davis finished the two-hitter for a save.

Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Saturday, with Jon Lester set to start for Chicago against fellow left-hander Gio Gonzalez (see full recap).

Turner’s 5 RBIs spark Dodgers’ Game 1 win
LOS ANGELES -- Justin Turner homered and drove in five runs, Clayton Kershaw won despite giving up four homers and the Los Angeles Dodgers roared to a 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night in their NL Division Series opener.

Turner hit a three-run homer and Yasiel Puig added an RBI double before the Dodgers made their first out against Arizona starter Taijuan Walker, who lasted just one inning in his playoff debut.

Turner added an RBI single in the fourth and another in the eighth. The red-bearded slugger tied a Dodgers record for most RBIs in a postseason game, sharing it with Pedro Guerrero and Davey Lopes.

A.J. Pollock, J.D. Martinez, Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis homered off Kershaw, but Arizona's euphoria from its wild-card victory over Colorado was erased during a rough first inning in Chavez Ravine.

Game 2 is Saturday night, with Rich Hill facing Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray (see full recap).

Astros pound Red Sox again for 2-0 series lead
HOUSTON -- Carlos Correa homered, doubled and drove in four runs, Jose Altuve got two more hits and the Houston Astros hammered the Boston Red Sox 8-2 Friday to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.

George Springer also homered to help Dallas Keuchel coast in Houston's second straight romp by the same score.

The Astros will go for a sweep in the best-of-five matchup Sunday at Fenway Park.

A day after Altuve hit three home runs in the playoff opener, he got things going with a two-out single in the first inning off Drew Pomeranz. Correa, who went 0 for 4 on Thursday, made it 2-0 when he launched a towering shot onto the train tracks atop left field.

Keuchel pitched into the sixth, allowing one run and three hits while striking out seven (see full recap).

Larry Bowa sees stars aligning for Phillies

Larry Bowa sees stars aligning for Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Larry Bowa is still here, hitting ground balls, working with the infielders, pitching batting practice and offering opinions.

"This team should play .500," he said walking off the field after a workout this week. 

"At least .500."

Bowa might be 72, but his energy level is that of a man 50 years younger. Really. This is his 53rd year in pro ball and his 34th in a Phillies uniform. He was a Gold Glove shortstop and a World Series winner in his playing days, he helped win a National League pennant as third base coach in 1993. He managed the club for four years and spent the last four seasons as bench coach.

The front office made sweeping changes after last season. Pete Mackanin was let go as manager — he remains with the club as an adviser and will scout spring training in Arizona — and Bowa relinquished his bench coaching duties. But Bowa's affiliation with the Phillies, which began in 1966, continues. He is now a senior adviser to general manager Matt Klentak. He will spend the season watching all of the Phillies' clubs from top to bottom. He will work with minor-league infielders. So there will be plenty to keep him busy.

Though the Phillies' win total slipped by five, from 71 to 66, last season, strides were made in the rebuild. The team played .500 ball over the final 76 games and a number of young players, some who could be difference-makers for a long time, arrived in the majors.

That's one of the reasons Bowa thinks this Phillies team can surprise people.

"The experience they gained last year, the way they played the second half, the way they played in the division, they played Washington tough," Bowa said. "Our division is not what you'd call super strong, and you're playing all those teams 18 times.

"I think our lineup is going to score runs. They're going to catch the ball. We caught the ball in the infield last year. And I think they're going to catch it in the outfield.

"In a perfect world, you'd like to have more pitching depth, but you know what? There aren't many perfect teams. They should play .500. The bullpen is strong. You hear they might go with eight relievers. Mix and match."

In his heart, Bowa was sad to see shortstop Freddy Galvis go. The two were close after working together for years. But Bowa thinks rookie J.P. Crawford is going to be just fine.

"I think Crawford is a very good shortstop, I really do," Bowa said. "With Freddy, you're talking about a guy who in my opinion should have won two Gold Gloves. Not one. Two. He should have won the last two years, but he didn't. The thing that J.P. brings is, even when he didn't hit good the last month last season, he gets on base. That's big."

Bowa loved what he saw of Aaron Nola last season and believes Jerad Eickhoff will bounce back big.

"He cemented himself with the way he pitched," Bowa said of Nola, who ranked 20th among big-league starters with a 3.54 ERA last season. "And you didn't even see the real Eickhoff. I think there was something bothering him and he tried to pitch through it. I don't think it was anything major. He's a bulldog, man. I'd fight for Eickhoff and Nola every day of the week. I like their demeanor, their attitude, their intensity."

Bowa didn't mince words when talking about third baseman Maikel Franco and starting pitcher Vince Velasquez, two big talents that need to do more.

"It's time," Bowa said, plainly. "It's just time. These are two guys that mean a lot to this team. Stuff-wise, Vinny should pitch good this year."

Bowa loves the addition of first baseman Carlos Santana, a selective hitter who produces runs. He was impressed with the late-season work of relievers Adam Morgan and Luis Garcia and thinks the confidence they gained will fuel strong seasons. He believes the team will respond well to new manager Gabe Kapler's energy.

"If you play .500 baseball going into the middle of August," Bowa said. "There's so much parity in baseball, you catch lightning in a bottom, watch out."

Bowa is happy to still be around the game and the Phillies. The change in role agrees with him.

"I've had a charmed life," he said. "And to be honest, I wasn't in love with the travel anymore."

He remains proud of the Phillies' second half last year. The team went 38-38 in its final 76 games.

"People sort of dismiss that," Bowa said. "But the fact is, it's very easy to fold up shop when you're buried at the All-Star break. It's a credit to Pete and the guys that played, they never quit. They played hard.

"I think this organization, if you look at the second half when Pete left, it's a lot better than when he took over.

"The stars are aligning. Things are really looking up."

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Even though the Grapefruit League schedule starts on Friday and opening day is less than six weeks away, the Phillies are still hungry to improve their pitching.

In an interview with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday, Phillies owner John Middleton said the team was “very” active in pursuing potential upgrades. Middleton went on to say that he would “love” to do something on that front.

Middleton made the comments as a number of attractive free-agent pitchers, including Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, remain unsigned.

“We’re having talks every single day with different people,” Middleton said. 

Middleton gets updates on those talks regularly from general manager Matt Klentak.

“Matt kind of now knows me, when we walk in the office and see each other for the first time he basically says [since] the last time I talked to you, John, at 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon nothing happened or this has happened,” Middleton said with a laugh. “Then I’ll see him at lunch time and still nothing has happened or this has happened. We have a lot of conversations about that.”

Middleton is eager to win, but he remains committed to seeing the rebuild through. Klentak has often said he won’t make a shortsighted move that would jeopardize the future. He has said his goal is to play in October for a decade, not just one year. That’s Middleton’s goal, too.

If the Phillies were to make an upgrade on the pitching side in the coming days or weeks, it would have to be on their terms. They have been in continuous contact with Arrieta’s representatives all winter, but won’t go to five or more years to sign the right-hander who turns 32 in March. If Arrieta were willing to sign a deal in the two- to four-year range, the Phillies would definitely have interest (more on all that here).

Stay tuned on that one. Camps are open. Free agents Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez have signed in recent days. Like Arrieta, they are represented by Scott Boras. The pitching logjam looks ready to break and could have an impact in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are methodically striving to become playoff relevant again.

“We wouldn’t be out talking to people the way we are if we didn’t think that we could get that little extra push,” Middleton said. “I think we all feel this way. [It] just has to be done in an intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable way.

“But, yeah, I’d love to do something."