Phillies lose Tommy Joseph to Rangers

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Phillies lose Tommy Joseph to Rangers

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tommy Joseph is headed to the American League. The Texas Rangers claimed him off waivers on Monday. The Arizona native will head to his home state to join the Rangers for the remainder of spring training.

The Phillies designated Joseph for assignment last week. The move was made to clear room for pitcher Jake Arrieta on the 40-man roster. 

Joseph, 26, joined the Phillies organization in the summer of 2012 in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco. At the time, Joseph was a catcher. A series of concussions nearly ended his career, but he converted to first base and forged his way to the majors in May 2016. He hit 43 home runs the last two seasons, but did not reach base enough to satisfy a front office that wants to build a lineup around players with that skill. The emergence of Rhys Hoskins last season and the signing of free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana this winter made Joseph expendable and efforts to trade him were fruitless.

Joseph’s power makes him a potential fit for a role as a designated hitter. He could also see some time at first base, with Joey Gallo owning a .199 career batting average against lefties.

Joseph is now on the Rangers’ 40-man roster.

Braves 2, Phillies 1: Little offense for Nola as Phillies are swept

Braves 2, Phillies 1: Little offense for Nola as Phillies are swept


ATLANTA — Though they are eliminated from postseason contention, the Phillies still have something to play for.

They are trying to avoid the ignominy that will come with being 15 games over .500 in early August and not finishing with a winning record.

It’s not going to be easy given the way this team has played for almost two months. The Phillies lost 2-1 Sunday — they left the bases loaded in the ninth — as the Atlanta Braves completed a four-game sweep one day after clinching the NL East title and bouncing the Phils from the race.

The Phillies are 78-77. They need to win four of their final seven games to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2011. Four of those games are against Colorado and three are against Atlanta next weekend in Philadelphia. 

Another elimination

Sunday’s loss officially eliminated the Phils from wild-card contention.

The swoon

The Phils are 15-29 since Aug. 5 when they led the NL East by 1½ game.

Nola's finale

Aaron Nola pitched six innings of two-run ball but took the loss. He is 16-6 with a 2.45 ERA in 32 starts. He is at 205 1/3 innings, far and away a career-high. He has racked up 216 strikeouts and walked just 54.

Nola is scheduled to make his last start of the season Friday night in Philadelphia. With the team out of the race and Nola’s Cy Young chances dimming, it would not be surprising if the Phils held the right-hander out of that start and saved some bullets for next season. More on that later.

Odubel being Odubel

Down a run in the top of the sixth, Odubel Herrera reached base on a one-out infield hit. He was then picked off by lefty Max Fried. Herrera flinched but made no real attempt to get back to the bag and was tagged out easily. When the pickoff was replayed on the huge center-field video board, audible chuckles could be heard coming from the crowd.

Slump buster

One of the four hits that Nola gave up was to Anibal Sanchez, the opposing starter. Sanchez had been hitless in his previous 54 at-bats, including 0 for 38 with 24 strikeouts this season.

Up next

The Phillies open their final road series of the year Monday night with the first of four against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Phillies are 31-46 on the road.

The Rockies are very much alive in the NL West and wild card races and they kill the ball at home. They average 5.23 runs per game at home, the highest mark in the NL, and lead the majors in home batting average (.284) and OPS (.832).

The Phillies scheduled starters for the series are Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and Jake Arrieta. Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela are scheduled for Colorado.

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Gabe Kapler soaks in the sting of elimination, stores it for motivation next season

Gabe Kapler soaks in the sting of elimination, stores it for motivation next season

ATLANTA — Gabe Kapler knows what the Atlanta Braves were feeling as they streamed euphorically out of the dugout Saturday after clinching the National League East with a 5-3 win over the Phillies. As a player, Kapler was a World Series champion with the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

Nonetheless, Kapler lingered on the top step of the dugout and watched the Braves celebrate for several moments after they had eliminated his Phillies from contention (see story).

“I think it's important to feel the blow of that,” Kapler said. “Because up until a couple of days ago, I felt like we had a chance to be the ones having that moment at our ballpark. And I never came off that position because I always thought it to be possible, and I always believed in the players in that room. I think there's some value in just allowing the sting of that to sink in and acknowledge it and use it as motivation for next season.”

The Braves are NL East champs for the first time since 2013. They went 68-93 in 2016 and 72-90 last year, finishing 25 games out of first place. The Braves considered replacing manager Brian Snitker after last season. They stuck with him and now he is a strong candidate for NL manager of the year.

Kapler’s name was being mentioned as a manager of the year candidate when the Phillies were 15 games over .500 and leading the division by 1½ games on Aug. 5. The Phillies are 15-28 since then. There are eight games remaining in the season and the Phils need to win half of them to have their first winning season since 2011. They went 66-96 last season. 

Beyond saying that Aaron Nola would make his scheduled start Sunday, Kapler was not ready to say how he would approach the final eight games of the season.

“This is a really important moment to reflect back to the beginning of the season and even the offseason,” he said. “Yes, we feel disappointment. But if we had said that we were going to be playing a meaningful game on Sept. 22, I think a lot of people would've said that that's not a reasonable thought. On the flip side, this is ultimately a sting. This hurts. But I'm really proud of the guys in that room for putting us in this position and for fighting to be in Atlanta with kind of the season on the line today.”

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