Phillies

Best of MLB: Indians rally, extend AL-record win streak to 22 straight games

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Best of MLB: Indians rally, extend AL-record win streak to 22 straight games

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians added a walk-off win to a streak that has had everything.

Jay Bruce hit an RBI double in the 10th inning as the Indians rallied for their 22nd straight win to extend their AL record, beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Thursday night to move within four wins of matching the 1916 New York Giants for the longest streak in major league history.

After blowouts, shutouts and oh-so-easy wins, the Indians, who tied it in the ninth on Francisco Lindor's two-out, two-strike RBI double, went into extras for the first time to keep the longest streak in 101 years intact.

"This was probably the toughest one we've had," Bruce said (see full recap).

Judge hits pair of 3-run HRs, Yanks rout Orioles
NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge had a pair of three-run homers for a career-best six RBIs, Todd Frazier hit a three-run homer that chased Wade Miley with one out in a six-run first inning and the New York Yankees routed the fading Baltimore Orioles 13-5 on Thursday night.

Judge hit an opposite-field drive over New York's bullpen in right-center in the fourth against Mike Wright, then lined a 448-foot drive into the second deck in left in the sixth off Rich Rodriguez. Judge has 43 homers and 96 RBIs, and with 27 homers at Yankee Stadium this year broke the ballpark's season record set by Curtis Granderson in 2012.

Rediscovering his stroke after a prolonged second-half slump, Judge had his second multihomer game in less than a week and is hitting .462 with 11 homers and 24 RBIs against the Orioles this season. When he reached the dugout after the second drive of his fifth multihomer game, Judge was given the silent treatment by Didi Gregorius, who then burst into a wide smile (see full recap).

Rizzo, Heyward lead surging Cubs to sweep of Mets
CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo homered and had three hits, Jason Heyward went deep and drove in four and the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Mets 14-6 on Thursday night.

Chicago's offense helped overcome a shaky debut by pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng to complete a three-game sweep.

The Cubs outscored the Mets 39-14 this week after being outscored 20-3 in a weekend three-game sweep by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Kris Bryant added two RBIs as the Cubs extended their NL Central lead to three games over Milwaukee and St. Louis, with the Cardinals coming to Wrigley Field for three games this weekend (see full recap).

Hit parade: White Sox pound out 25, crush Tigers
DETROIT -- In the middle of the best game of his young career, Chicago White Sox rookie Yoan Moncada still got a short lecture from his manager.

With two outs in the sixth and the White Sox holding a comfortable seven-run lead over Detroit, the second baseman didn't get to a grounder by JaCoby Jones, keeping the inning alive Thursday. Jose Iglesias followed with an RBI double.

Manager Rick Renteria immediately made sure Moncada knew he had made a mistake.

"I told him that he had been too lackadaisical on that ball," Renteria said. "He already knew -- he was disgusted with himself about it,” (see full recap).

Jorge Alfaro over Wilson Ramos? Carlos Santana over Justin Bour? Gabe Kapler has his reasons

Jorge Alfaro over Wilson Ramos? Carlos Santana over Justin Bour? Gabe Kapler has his reasons

WASHINGTON — Lots of folks asking questions about Gabe Kapler’s starting lineup Tuesday night.

The Phillies manager played Carlos Santana at first base over Justin Bour.

And he started Jorge Alfaro behind the plate over newcomer Wilson Ramos.

OK, some explanations from Kapler.

First, a week-old one on the Santana-Bour question:

“Santana's going to play every day,” Kapler said after Bour joined the club in a trade from Miami last week. “Santana's going to play regularly.

“Bour is going to be a weapon off the bench for us. Santana's going to play every day.”

OK.

And now for Kapler’s decision to start Alfaro over Ramos on Tuesday night against the Nationals.

“There are a number of things involved here,” Kapler said before the game.

“First, Alfaro has a history of success against [Tanner] Roark.

“Second, Ramos is coming off a long stint on the DL and we have ridden him pretty hard the last couple of days. Two consecutive days off is going to give him a chance to repair his body.

“Third, we have a bit of a slippery, rainy day today and when it comes to Ramos, we’re really concerned with how we’re going to manage his health through the end of the season and into October and so all of those reasons are why we thought it made sense to have Alfaro in there.

“And, I guess, finally, I think [starting pitcher Vince Velasquez] and Alfaro have a pretty good rapport.”

Ramos missed six weeks with a hamstring strain before the Phillies activated him last week. He has seven hits, including four doubles and a triple, in 17 at-bats with the club. It is reasonable to wonder why he wasn’t in the lineup. And Kapler’s answer was reasonable, as well.

Alfaro is hitting .251 with a .700 OPS and 120 strikeouts in 295 at-bats, but, as Kapler pointed out, he does have some success against Roark. He was 5 for 7 with a double and a homer against the Washington starter. Ramos was 0 for 3 against Roark. The two are former teammates with Washington.

Bour was just 6 for 31 (.194) against Roark, but half of his hits were homers. He had nine strikeouts.

Santana was 2 for 7 with a triple against Roark.

Santana, in the first year of a three-year, $60 million contract, is one of the most polarizing players on the club. His supporters, which include the front office and Kapler, love the way he works counts and gets on base. It fits the style of play management is dedicated to. Santana's on-base percentage is .351 (third best on the club) and his 69 RBIs are second most on the club.

Santana’s detractors see his .218 batting average and want more.

Or Bour.

As with the Alfaro-Ramos decision, it is completely reasonable to question Kapler’s decision to go with Santana over Bour.

But Kapler makes out the lineup. And he’s given his reasons.

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With 9 games left vs. Nationals, Phillies are big fans of Tuesday's trades

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With 9 games left vs. Nationals, Phillies are big fans of Tuesday's trades

The Nationals, who have lost seven of 10 games and are 62-63 despite several hot bats, made things easier on the Phillies this week.

Prior to Tuesday's series opener in D.C., the Nats agreed to trade Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and Matt Adams to the Cardinals.

Both players had been claimed on waivers over the weekend. Bryce Harper was reportedly claimed, too, but the Nationals were unable to work out a trade before waivers expired. This means that Harper will be a National for the rest of the season before becoming a free agent.

Murphy is a perennial Phillie-killer so the Phillies have to be loving this. Yes, they'll face the Cubs just next week, but one series is better than three. The Phillies have nine games left with the Nationals beginning tonight.

Murphy had microfracture surgery last winter but is back to the Daniel Murphy we know. Over his last 34 games, he's hit .364 with a .960 OPS. Good riddance.

Why didn't the Phillies claim Murphy?

As a refresher, in August, the waiver order is an inverse of the standings. When Murphy was placed on waivers, the Phillies had the NL's third-best record and were 13th in the order. The Cubs had the NL's best record and were 15th.

Thus, the Phillies had a chance to claim Murphy but did not. You'd have to think they would have if they didn't just acquire Justin Bour, another left-handed hitter with defensive limitations.

Murphy is a great hitter but he's always been a below-average defensive player. He can only play first and second base at this point. The Phillies are crowded at both spots. Murphy would be an offensive upgrade over Cesar Hernandez, but Gabe Kapler loves him some Cesar Hernandez atop the lineup.

What about Harper?

The Dodgers were reportedly the team to claim Harper. They were several spots ahead of the Phillies in the waiver order. The Phillies almost certainly would have claimed Harper if he made it to them because he's an upgrade over basically every outfielder in baseball.

It doesn't change anything heading into the offseason. The Phillies will make aggressive runs at both Harper and Manny Machado. The Dodgers, though, will be a top competitor for both star free agents. 

L.A. seems much more likely to make a run at Harper because he fills more of a need, fits in more with their offensive philosophy, and the Dodgers have Corey Seager returning next season to play shortstop.

What changes this week?

Anytime you can face Wilmer Difo instead of Murphy, you're happy. The Phillies also won't have to deal with Adams' big left-handed bat off the bench, though Ryan Zimmerman is still a hot and dangerous first baseman.

Despite the Nationals' recent losing ways and Tuesday's trades, this will still be a challenging series.

Tanner Roark, who pitches the series opener, is 5-0 with a 1.77 ERA and .246 opponents' OBP in his last five starts. Then the Phils have to deal with Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. 

The key in this series getting to Washington's terrible, injury-riddled bullpen.

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