Phillies

Manny Machado to the Phillies could happen — eventually

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Manny Machado to the Phillies could happen — eventually

The Baltimore Orioles have the worst record in the major leagues and baseball executives with their finger on the pulse of that team’s thinking say they will deal slugging infielder Manny Machado before the July 31 trade deadline.

The time is now for the Phillies to pounce on a guy they have long lusted for, right?

Uh, not so quick.

Given ownership’s obsession with putting a winner back on the field at Citizens Bank Park – and its deep pockets – there is a good chance that Machado will be fitted for red pinstripes in the near future.

But July?

That’s difficult to see. Extremely difficult.

While Phillies ownership is eager to win, it trusts the baseball management team that it has put in place to eventually return a winner to Philadelphia. And if we’ve learned anything about said baseball management team – Andy MacPhail, Matt Klentak et al – it is that they are going to be patient in seeing this rebuild to completion.

It was tempting to look at the Phillies’ poking their nose into first place in the NL East and getting to nine games over .500 one day late last month and surmise that the rebuild was over, but the team’s play in recent weeks against tougher competition has exposed holes and been a reminder that while the rebuild might be nearing an end, it is not over.

Machado would be a huge finishing piece for the Phillies, but the current front office, which is in its third year in charge, has been gearing to arrive as a full-fledged contender in year four and beyond. They are not about to mortgage the future for two months of Manny Machado only to see him walk off into free agency in the fall. No way. If a number of teams take this tack and the Orioles have to lower their prospect price for Machado, then maybe. But as it stands right now, the Phillies will be content (and confident) to take their chances on Machado when he hits the free-agent market in the coming offseason. That’s when they can let their greatest resource – cash – do the talking.

And, as for the belief that Machado might sign an extension with a new club this summer … doubtful. He’s gotten this close to free agency. He’s going to duel it out with Bryce Harper for the biggest free-agent deal ever.

The Machado talk has gripped Philadelphia for a couple of years now. It is nothing new. It has been heightened recently because the Phillies have played better and are currently using the left side of the infield – Machado’s home – as a laboratory to see if Scott Kingery can be a shortstop, to see if J.P. Crawford can be a third baseman. Kingery, with a six-year contract, has a place in the team’s future, probably at second base, his natural position and a spot he could move to with ease. The phasing out of disappointing Maikel Franco and the use of Crawford at third — he loves the position, by the way, and seems to be better there than at short — might be groundwork for the potential of Kingery and Crawford flanking shortstop Machado next season. Machado wants to play shortstop as long as he can. He is going to require a lengthy deal. He has the athleticism to move back to third base at any time and eventually to first base as he ages.

He’s a great fit for the Phillies for a lot of reasons.

But not in July. Not for two months. Not at the price of multiples of top prospects. Not when the Phillies rebuild still has some miles to cover.

This is not to say the Phillies won’t look to upgrade their offensive output at third base in July if they can manage to right their ship this month and stay relevant in the playoff chase. They have an obligation to improve if they think they can make the postseason now. But Mike Moustakas, a rental player without Machado’s price tag of prospects, might fit the team’s plan better.

Watch that one.

And watch Machado, too. He’s going somewhere this summer and probably somewhere else — maybe Philadelphia — in the offseason.

After giving up 30 runs in 1 day, Phillies actually gain ground in race

After giving up 30 runs in 1 day, Phillies actually gain ground in race

BOX SCORE

If you are going to take a 20-run beating, it’s best to do so in the first game of a doubleheader. And not one of those separate admission doubleheaders, an old-fashioned doubleheader in which the second game starts 30 minutes after the first one.

That way there’s no time to sit around and stew in the juices from the painful defeat.

Lace ‘em right back up. Get back out there and start swinging again.

That’s just what the Phillies did Thursday night. They won the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, 9-6 (see first take). The win came just a few hours after the Mets pounded the Phillies, 24-4, and turned position players Roman Quinn and Scott Kingery into batting-practice pitchers (see story).

Rhys Hoskins made a costly error — one of four that the sloppy Phillies made — in the Mets’ 10-run fifth inning in the opener. But Hoskins came back in the nightcap and rescued the Phillies and Zach Eflin from an early two-run deficit with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning, and the Phillies never trailed again.

“Rhys’ homer was huge,” said Eflin, who delivered 6 2/3 innings of four-run ball for his ninth win. “As a pitcher, you always want to pitch with the lead and he got it for us.”

Hoskins has homered in three of the last four games. He has 25 on the season.

“Rhys set the tone with that big three-run home run, getting us right back in it and I think it speaks to the character of our club,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’re not down for long. We can take it on the chin. We can take a punch and we always get up and come out swinging. We believe in each other and I think that was on display today.”

The victory capped a crazy day of baseball. Even after a 20-run loss in the opener, the Phillies were able to pick up ground in both the NL East and NL wild-card races. They trail Atlanta by 1½ game in the division and lead the wild card race by 1½ games.

“Obviously, you never want to lose like we did (in the first game), but it happens,” Hoskins said. “We get to wake up tomorrow closer than we were today — that’s a good day.”

There were no chats, meetings, speeches or reprimands in the brief time between games.

“Nothing,” Kapler said. “These guys are professionals. They know how to prepare for the next game. They know how to wash it off. You have to have a short memory. We had an ugly first game, there’s no denying that. It was one that we wanted to forget quickly and one way to do that is to come out and win the next game. That’s just what we did.”

Hoskins said there was no need to say anything between games.

“We all saw what happened,” he said. “You just flush and move on to the next one. We know what to do to get back on the horse and win a ballgame.”

Having little time to wallow in the ugly loss helped.

“Yeah,” Hoskins said. “There’s a lot less time to think about it.”

Kapler used Quinn and Kingery for three innings of relief — they combined to allow nine runs as the game deteriorated into a comedy act — in the first game because it was a blowout and he wanted to save his bullpen. He was able to use Luis Garcia, Victor Arano and Seranthony Dominguez for big outs late in the second game — not that any one of those guys would have profiled to pitch in the first-game blowout.

“You saw it,” Hoskins said. “We don’t use guys in the first game. We used position players. Even though it’s pretty ugly, especially in the seventh inning, we have a stronger chance to win the second game, especially with the bullpen we have. You trust Gabe. It’s worked. There’s not really much else to say. We don’t see any madness in his method.”

Kingery started the second game at shortstop and ignited a three-run second inning with a solo homer. That broke an 0-for-21 drought for the rookie.

“I joked with him that I wish I knew all we had to do was put him on the mound for him to hit a homer,” Hoskins said. “A little extra adrenaline. Different adrenaline. It was good to see. He’s been grinding with the rest of us. His swing is right there. For him to see results was great.”

Kingery became the first player since Rocky Colavito of the 1968 Yankees to pitch in Game 1 of a doubleheader and homer in the second game (see video).

More on the Phillies

Phillies use bats to rebound from debacle for doubleheader split with Mets

Phillies use bats to rebound from debacle for doubleheader split with Mets

BOX SCORE

The Phillies were able to flush a horrendous performance in the opener and come back and win the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets on Thursday night.

Zach Eflin pitched 6 2/3 innings and Rhys Hoskins clubbed a three-run homer to lead a 9-6 victory.

The win came on the heels of an ugly 24-4 loss in the first game. The Phillies made four errors in the game and their pitchers were charged with 11 unearned runs. The Mets had 11 extra-base hits in the opener, including three homers, against five Phillies pitchers, two of which were position players.

Phillies pitching held the Mets to nine hits in the nightcap. They had 25 in the opener.

By coming back and earning a split in the doubleheader, the second-place Phils were able to pick up a half-game on first-place Atlanta in the NL East standings. The Braves' lead is 1½ games. 

Things did not get off to a promising start in the second game as Eflin allowed three straight doubles and two runs to open the game.

The right-hander got things in order after that. He rattled off five straight scoreless innings before the Mets scored twice in the seventh and manager Gabe Kapler went to his bullpen. Luis Garcia and Victor Arano were effective and Seranthony Dominguez cleaned up a little mess in the ninth to close it out with a strikeout of dangerous Jose Bautista with two men on base and the Mets down by three.

Hoskins homered in the first game but also made a costly error in the Mets’ 10-run fifth inning.

After the Mets scored twice in the first inning of the second game, Hoskins clubbed a three-run homer against Steven Matz in the bottom of the inning to put the Phils ahead. They never relinquished the lead.

Hoskins has three homers in the last four games and 25 on the season.

Scott Kingery, who limbered up with some time on the mound in the first game, started at shortstop and clubbed a solo homer in the second inning.

The Phillies had 14 hits. Wilson Ramos had his second three-hit night in as many games since joining the club. Hoskins, Kingery, Nick Williams and Cesar Hernandez all had two apiece.

Eflin is 9-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 17 starts.

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