Phillies

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.

Phillies throw away chance to move into 1st place in NL East

Phillies throw away chance to move into 1st place in NL East

BOX SCORE

If this Phillies team proves to be for real, there will be other chances to move into first place in the National League East. For now, the Phils need to improve some things, most notably their defense.

The Phils have made nine errors in the last five games. They made two of them in the fifth inning Tuesday night and they proved lethal in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves that denied the Phils entry into first place in the division (see first take).

“We had some plays that we could have made, there’s no doubt about it,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s something that we’re going to stay focused on and work really hard to improve.”

Starting pitcher Vince Velasquez had good enough stuff to strike out nine Braves — including the side with the bases loaded in the fourth — over 4 1/3 innings, but his pitch count was high and he paid the price for a leadoff walk (one of three he issued in the game) in the fifth inning when the Braves parlayed errors by rightfielder Nick Williams and first baseman Carlos Santana into the tie-breaking run.

Santana had a chance to cut down Ozzie Albies at the plate, but his throw sailed over catcher Jorge Alfaro’s head. Later in the game, Alfaro was charged with a passed ball that set up the Braves’ third run. Two of the Braves’ runs were unearned.

Less than two weeks ago, Kapler praised Santana for playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. Lately, however, Santana's defense has slipped badly. He has made errors in four straight games. Three of them have been throwing errors. All have cost the Phillies runs.

“The last four games, I’m throwing bad,” Santana said. “But that happens. I have to keep working hard. I’m not putting pressure on myself. The results are not good but I feel strong mentally. Tomorrow is a new day.”

While Santana has struggled defensively, Rhys Hoskins has struggled offensively. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to fall to .237. He is 10 for 67 (.149) with 27 strikeouts in May.

“It’s just one of those stretches,” Hoskins said. He cited some mechanical flaws that have hurt his timing. “It’s baseball. It’s frustrating, but I think it’s one of those things where if I stick with the process and preparation and drills that make me comfortable in the box, I think it eventually flips the other way.”

The Phils entered the game a half game behind the first-place Braves. Before the game, Kapler said moving into first place for the first time since 2011 “would mean a lot” as a confidence and momentum booster. The loss meant the Phils cannot overtake the Braves in Wednesday’s series finale. But the Phils can still win the series and that would be a positive. In fact, that should always be the goal and the Phils have not been able to do that in three previous series against Atlanta this season.

Jake Arrieta gets the ball Wednesday night.

The Phils will try not to throw it away.

Phillies miss target of 1st place with home loss to Braves

Phillies miss target of 1st place with home loss to Braves

BOX SCORE

The Phillies missed out on a chance to move into first place in the National League East on Tuesday night and they have no one to blame but themselves.

The team’s recent spate of poor defense continued in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Two of the Braves' runs were unearned.

The Phils made two errors in the fifth inning, allowing the Braves to push across the go-ahead run.

A passed ball on catcher Jorge Alfaro set up the Braves' third run.

The Phillies, and Alfaro in particular, made several defensive gems in Monday night’s 3-0 win over the Braves. But, overall, defense has been an issue lately. The Phils have made nine errors in the last five games, four of them by first baseman Carlos Santana.

Santana made his third throwing error in the last four games when he airmailed catcher Alfaro in the fifth inning. The wild throw allowed Ozzie Albies to score from third base with the tie-breaking run. Earlier in the fifth inning, rightfielder Nick Williams made a throwing error that gave the Braves runners on second and third.

Defense wasn’t the only issue for the Phillies. Starting pitcher Vince Velasquez walked the leadoff batter in an inning three times and one of them became the go-ahead run in the fifth.

Velasquez’s three-game winning streak came to an end as he allowed nine base runners in 4 1/3 innings. Albies jumped a first-pitch breaking ball for a solo homer in the third inning to give the Braves an early lead. The Phillies tied the game in the top of the fifth on a two-out, RBI single by Cesar Hernandez. Pinch-hitter Aaron Altherr had kept that inning alive by fighting back from an 0-2 count against Brandon McCarthy to draw a two-out walk.

Velasquez, who threw 89 pitches, had his moments of dominance. He struck out nine, including the side in the fourth inning after the Braves loaded the bases with no outs.

Velasquez is 0-4 against the Braves this season.

McCarthy, meanwhile, is 4-0 against the Phillies this season. The veteran right-hander gave up just one run in 5 2/3 innings. He has held the Phillies to just five runs in 21 2/3 innings this season.

The loss dropped the Phillies to 27-19. They trail the division-leading Braves by 1½ games. Atlanta is 29-18.

Notes
• Hernandez has reached base safely in 26 straight games.

• Albies, the Braves’ dynamic 21-year-old second baseman, scored all three of his team’s runs. He has 14 homers.

• Rhys Hoskins went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to fall to .237. He is 10 for 67 (.149) with 27 strikeouts in May.

• The series concludes on Wednesday night with Jake Arrieta going against Atlanta lefty Luiz Gohara.