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Around the NL East: Phillies hire MacPhail to help rebuild effort


Around the NL East: Phillies hire MacPhail to help rebuild effort


Remember when the Braves used to own the Nationals? Not so much anymore these days, as Atlanta had lost nine straight games vs. Washington prior to Wednesday night's 4-1 victory over its division rival.

The Braves have now lost six out of their last eight games, and are looking more and more like a 'seller' as the trade deadline approaches at the end of the month. If that's the case, it wouldn't be much of a surprise considering they've already made a number of shrewd deals in recent months to acquire young pitching prospects. Do they have another big move in them?


Miami received both good and bad news on the injury front over the past week. The good is that Jose Fernandez is finally ready to make his 2015 debut Thursday after 13 months rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year is looking to reclaim his spot as one of the best young arms in the game, giving the Marlins what they hope is one of their foundational pieces for a contending team in the coming years. 

But as one bright spot enters the picture, another one will be out for a while. Giancarlo Stanton injured his hamate bone in his left hand after taking several awkward swings last Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and is expected to gone for four-to-six weeks. That's a crushing blow for an already disappointing Marlins club that was expected to contend in the division this year. Without Stanton, who leads the majors in home runs with 27, Miami's lineup lacks considerable thump.


For Mets fans, this past week was all about Steven Matz. The 24-year-old rookie left hander had a memorable big-league debut, earning a win Sunday night against the Cincinnati Reds by tossing 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball and notching six strikeouts. But it wasn't what he did on the mound that had fans buzzing; it was what he did at the plate. Matz went 3-for-4 while driving in four runs -- the most any pitcher has had in his debut in major league history.  

But the problem for the Mets is that they desperately need a Matz-ian effort almost every night, as the club is still having trouble scoring. Heading into Thursday's slate of games, New York has been shutout in its last 20 innings, all against the Cubs. The most recent scoring drought pretty much symbolizes a constant theme for a team that believes it has the pitching staff to contend for a division title. But when the offense is ranked 27th in the majors in runs (276), 29th in batting average (.232), 29th in slugging (.359) and 25th in on-base percentage (.297), all the rotation's efforts usually go to waste. 


The Phillies made their biggest move of the year earlier week, announcing that Andy MacPhail will be the team president after Pat Gillick steps down at the end of the season. It's clear that by making this move mid-season, the Phils are hoping to give MacPhail time so he can get the lay of the land to see who on the roster (and in the front office) is a keeper and who isn't. Philly fans will have to be patient, as MacPhail has a history of slowly-but-surely rebuilding an organization from the ground up.

Just look at his most recent stop in Baltimore, where he provided a pretty good blueprint for success. When he inherited the Orioles roster in 2007, the team was a perennial doormat in the AL East with little talent to work with. But by the time he left in 2011, he had acquired key pieces (Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis, among others) that would become the foundation for a contender from 2012 onward. That's the type of rebuild the Phillies need right now. The only question is how long the fans will go before they become restless. 

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.


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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.