Phillies

Hittin' season truly commences with Charlie Manuel as Phillies bash Cubs

Hittin' season truly commences with Charlie Manuel as Phillies bash Cubs

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On Charlie Manuel’s first night as hitting coach, the Phillies’ heretofore struggling offense erupted for 13 hits in an 11-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.

The win was the Phillies’ second in a row over the Cubs, both coming after the team dismissed hitting coach John Mallee on Tuesday.

The Phillies’ offensive rampage included three homers — a grand slam by J.T. Realmuto and a pair by Bryce Harper — and three doubles.

A decade after he led the Phillies to the 2008 World Series title, Manuel is still beloved by fans. They chanted “Charlie! … Charlie!” after Realmuto’s grand slam in the third and Harper’s upper-deck bomb in the sixth (see story).

The victory came six years to the day after Manuel managed his last game for the Phillies in 2013.

The Phillies are 62-58. They entered the day two games back in the NL wild-card race.

Not to be outdone

Aaron Nola was as impressive as the offense. The right-hander bounced back from a less-than-stellar outing (5 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs) in San Francisco and pitched seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball. He struck out seven. The only run he allowed came in the seventh on a homer by Kris Bryant. The Phils had an 11-0 lead at that point.

Nola is 11-3 with a 3.56 ERA.

A not so welcome home

Manuel wasn’t the only 2008 World Series hero back in the spotlight. Cole Hamels, pitching for the first time as an opponent in Philadelphia, did not make it out of the third inning. In fact, he did not get an out in the inning. The 35-year-old lefty was racked for nine hits and eight runs.

Hamels took the mound wearing on his sleeve the same patch honoring David Montgomery that the Phillies wear (see story). Hamels was close to the well-respected former Phillies club president, who died in May.

The crowd saluted Hamels with two standing ovations, one as he took the mound and one before his at-bat in the top of the third inning.

A new look

Manager Gabe Kapler used slumping Rhys Hoskins in the leadoff spot. It was the first time in Hoskins’ career that he’d batted in that spot. Hoskins entered the game in a 2-for-28 slump over the previous eight games.

Even when he’s in a funk at the plate, Hoskins works counts and sees pitches. Kapler thought that approach would be valuable at the top of the lineup, even if Hoskins wasn’t getting hits.

In his first at-bat, Hoskins singled against Hamels. He raised his arms in triumph as he came out of the batter’s box.

Realmuto's night

Behind the plate, he threw out his 26th attempted base stealer, the most by a Phillies catcher since Mike Lieberthal gunned down 26 in 2002. Overall, Realmuto has caught 26 of 65 (40 percent) this season.

At the plate, Realmuto doubled and had his second grand slam of the season.

In his 42 games since June 24, Realmuto is hitting .305 (47 for 154) with 14 doubles, three triples, seven homers and 27 RBIs. His season batting average is up to .277 and he has 17 homers.

Up next

The Phillies have not had a series sweep since the end of June when they took four from the Mets. They will look to make it three straight and a sweep against the Cubs on Thursday night. Drew Smyly (2-6, 6.96) opposes Yu Darvish (4-6, 4.43).

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American Century Championship 2020: Odds, live stream, TV info, player list, schedule

American Century Championship 2020: Odds, live stream, TV info, player list, schedule

In the 2007 offseason, Jimmy Rollins famously said the Phillies were the “team to beat”. Those comments became the motto that helped catapult the Phillies to five straight postseason appearances, including a 2008 World Series title. Guys like Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino were a big reason for that success.

Well, the band is back together.

This time they’ll be paired together on the golf course starting Friday at the American Century Championship in Nevada. This is the first time Utley is taking part in the celebrity event. Other first timers include Chiefs quarterback and new $503 million dollar man Patrick Mahomes.

William Hill Sportsbook in Nevada has placed odds on this weekend’s festivities and the trio of former Phillies are not getting much respect. Then again, for most participants this tournament is all fun and games. Utley has odds of 300-1 ($100 wager will pay $30,000) while Victorino is listed at 1500-1 ($100 wager will pay $150,000). Rollins is part of the field at 50-1 ($100 wager will pay $5,000).

American Century Championship TV, live stream and time

Friday: First round coverage -- 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBC Sports app
Saturday: Second round coverage -- 3 p.m. ET on NBC10, NBC Sports app
Sunday: Final round coverage -- 3 p.m. ET on NBC 10, NBC Sports app

Unfortunately, Rollins, Utley and Victorino don’t stand much of a chance against opponents like former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and two-time defending champion of this event Tony Romo. Romo is an excellent NFL broadcaster and highly skilled golfer who has played in four PGA events so it’s no surprise he’s the even money favorite. He also has zero Super Bowl appearances (just stating the facts). Former Cardinals and A’s pitcher and three-time champion of the American Century Championship Mark Mulder is the second choice on the board at 13/5.

Charles Barkley is an annual participant at this weekend’s events. Sir Charles and his awkward golf swing are a long shot with odds of 7500-1. I think it’s safe to say save your money. Nonetheless, this event is always fun seeing all the celebrities having a good time on the links. Who doesn’t like Steph Curry draining 3’s into the boats docked alongside Lake Tahoe?

American Century Championship selected odds (via William Hill Sportsbook)

  • Tony Romo - EVEN
  • Mark Mulder - 13/5
  • Mardy Fish - 15/2
  • John Smoltz - 17/2
  • Stephen Curry - 12/1
  • Derek Lowe - 15/1
  • Aaron Rodgers - 100/1
  • Chase Utley - 300/1
  • Patrick Mahomes - 400/1
  • Roger Clemens - 500/1
  • Oscar De La Hoya - 500/1
  • Shane Victorino - 1500/1
  • Sean Payton - 2000/1
  • James Blake - 3000/1
  • Field - 50/1

American Century Championship first round pairings, tee times

1st tee

  • 1:55 p.m. ET: Oscar De La Hoya, Michael Peña, Kira K. Dixon
  • 2:05 p.m.: Chauncey Billups, Deron Williams, Patrick Peterson
  • 2:15 p.m.: Jerome Bettis, Eddie George, Terrell Davis
  • 2:25 p.m: Mardy Fish, Canelo Álvarez, James Blake
  • 2:35 p.m.: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Charles Barkley
  • 2:45 p.m.: Steve Young, Anthony Lynn, Mike Vrabel
  • 2:55 p.m.: Cooper Kupp, Adam Thielen, Case Keenum
  • 3:05 p.m.: Stephen Curry, Dell Curry, Aaron Rodgers
  • 3:15 p.m: Tony Romo, Larry Fitzgerald, Jerry Rice
  • 3:25 p.m.: John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens
  • 3:35 p.m.: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino
  • 3:45 p.m.: Mark Mulder, Jack Wagner, Derek Lowe

10th tee

  • 1:50 p.m. ET: Doug Flutie, Jim McMahon
  • 2:00 p.m.: Joe Don Rooney, Jay DeMarcus, Bret Baier
  • 2:10 p.m.: Kyle WIlliams, AJ Hawk, Brandon McManus
  • 2:20 p.m.: Reggie Bush, Carson Palmer, Marcus Allen
  • 2:30 p.m.: Joe Buck, Jay Bilas, Vinny Del Negro
  • 2:40 p.m.: Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Ozzie Smith
  • 2:50 p.m.: Eric Weddle, Kyle Fuller, Troy Mullins
  • 3:00 p.m: TIm Wakefield, Kevin Millar, Brian McCann
  • 3:10 p.m.: Miles Teller, Chace Crawford, Kathryn Tappen
  • 3:20 p.m.: Charles Woodson, Kyle Rudolph, DeMarcus Ware
  • 3:30 p.m.: Alfonso Ribeiro, Rob Riggle, Ray Romano
  • 3:40 p.m.: Larry the Cable Guy, Brian Baumgartner, John O'Hurley

Joe Girardi's Phillies lineup is nearly set, except for one outfield question mark

Joe Girardi's Phillies lineup is nearly set, except for one outfield question mark

The start of the Phillies' abbreviated 2020 season is two weeks away, and manager Joe Girardi has a pretty good idea of what his team's Opening Day defensive alignment will look like.  

J.T. Realmuto will be behind the plate, presumably catching Aaron Nola. Jean Segura will likely be the starting third baseman, next to new shortstop Didi Gregorius. Now healthy after a wicked bout with COVID-19, Scott Kingery projects as the starting second baseman. Rhys Hoskins will play first base. Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are locked in at the corner outfield spots. 

That leaves center field as the only position up for grabs. 

Second-year player Adam Haseley and fourth-year veteran Roman Quinn are the primary candidates. 

The 24-year old Haseley was the 8th overall pick of the 2017 MLB draft and quickly climbed through the Phillies minor league system. He played 67 games last season as a rookie and showed flashes of being a productive big league outfielder, hitting .266 with 14 doubles, five home runs, and 26 RBI. He also made a handful of spectacular defensive plays.

Quinn, 27, has long tantalized the front office and fans alike with his immense talent. His blazing speed makes him a weapon on the basepaths and allows him to cover a ton of ground in the outfield. He also has a fair amount of pop, collecting 20 extra-base hits in 139 at-bats the last two seasons. But injuries have been a common theme throughout Quinn's professional career. He's never been able to stay healthy long enough to show what he's capable of over the course of a full season. 

Quinn and Haseley competed for the center field job during spring training in Clearwater and will continue to do so over the next two weeks of training camp at Citizens Bank Park. The manager isn't in a rush to name a starter.

"My mind is really open with that spot," Girardi told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Michael Barkann earlier this week. "If one guy emerges, it's one guy. If it's a platoon, it's a platoon. If one guy plays more than the other, we have that.

"The big thing is we get production out of center field, that's what I'm looking for. And that doesn't necessarily mean home runs, it could mean getting on base and scoring runs and a lot of different things including really good defense. I'm just going to let it play out and see who rises to the top here." 

Whoever plays center field will likely be hitting towards the bottom of the batting order. There won't be a ton of pressure to put up big offensive numbers. 

There is one other possibility to consider when it comes to the center field situation: Odubel Herrera.

The 28-year old Herrera isn't currently on the Phillies' 60-man summer camp roster, but he could be added at any point. GM Matt Klentak didn't rule out that scenario last week. 

On Thursday's 'Phillies Return to Play' show, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury indicated Herrera could still be an option if neither Haseley or Quinn play well enough to claim the job. 

There are a lot of question marks at the moment when it comes to the Phillies' center field job. Girardi is hopeful one of the candidates will step up over the next couple of weeks and provide some answers.

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