Nick Williams' pinch-hit homer saves the day for Aaron Nola, Phillies

Nick Williams' pinch-hit homer saves the day for Aaron Nola, Phillies


Nick Williams came off the bench and clubbed a three-run, pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to help Aaron Nola and the Phillies beat the New York Mets, 4-2, at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday afternoon.

The win gave the Phillies a 5-1 homestand as they get set to hit the road for six games after Monday’s off day.

Nola, who entered the game with the fourth-best ERA in the National League, pitched six innings of one-run ball to improve to 6-1 and lower his ERA to 1.99.

The only run he allowed came in the top of the sixth when Yoenis Cespedes hit a mistake, 0-2 curveball for a solo homer. That was the game’s only run until Williams’ two-out homer in the bottom of the inning against Mets right-hander Paul Sewald.

The Phillies had trouble manufacturing a run in the early and middle innings. They loaded the bases on three walks against Mets starter Jacob deGrom in the first inning and got nothing. They grounded into two inning-ending double plays in the first four innings and were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position before Williams’ big hit.

Carlos Santana had a big day for the Phils. He led off the sixth inning with a double and Scott Kingery drew a one-out walk before Williams’ homer gave the Phils a 3-1 lead.

Things got tight for the Phillies in the seventh inning when Tommy Hunter allowed a two-out single and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with an RBI double off the right-field wall to make it a one-run game. Cabrera's drive came just a few feet from going over the wall for a game-tying homer.

Santana provided the Phils a little breathing room with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. He had four home runs and 14 RBIs on the homestand.

Rookie Seranthony Dominguez pitched a scoreless eighth, giving him four scoreless appearances since arriving from Triple A. Edubray Ramos protected the two-run lead in the ninth and got the save. Hector Neris, who blew the save on Friday night, warmed up after Ramos entered the game, but was not used.

Odubel Herrera, the majors’ leading hitter, improved his consecutive games on-base streak to 41 with a first-inning walk. He is hitting .360.

DeGrom was removed after just one inning and an arduous 45 pitches. He was not hurt, but the Mets are watching him closely as he comes back from a hyperextended elbow.

• The Phillies’ defense was sharp. First baseman Santana started an important 3-6-1 double play to end the top of the fifth and catcher Jorge Alfaro gunned down Amed Rosario trying to steal. Alfaro’s throw to second registered at 91 mph. Alfaro also had a pair of hits.

• The Phillies are off on Monday. They open a two-game interleague series at Baltimore on Tuesday night.

• The Phillies sent reliever Jake Thompson to Triple A after the game. They will add someone before Tuesday's game. 

What if Kruk was the commissioner of baseball?

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What if Kruk was the commissioner of baseball?

On this edition of Krukcast, Gregg Murphy and John Kruk dive into one of life's great hypothetical scenarios. What would Kruk do if he became the commissioner of baseball? From uniform rules to schedule changes, Kruk has a lot of ideas. See if you agree with them (or any of them).

1:30 - Keep the uniforms uniform.
4:00 - Changing a fundamental rule in baseball.
5:30 - A change to the schedule.
8:00 - A day of per week for players?
10:00 - Get rid of September callups?
12:30 - What to do with players busted for PED's?
15:30 - Replay.
17:30 - Check swing rule change.

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How much is too much for Phillies in a Manny Machado trade?

How much is too much for Phillies in a Manny Machado trade?

There has been even more Manny Machado talk than usual in Philly of late. The combination of the recent Phillies-Orioles series and the Phils' winning ways has increased the chatter about whether they should trade for Machado this season rather than wait him out in free agency.

Obvious arguments can be made for both sides. 

Why not make the trade? Because waiting him out until free agency allows you to hold on to all of your young players. 

Why make the trade? Because, as some have argued, it makes you significantly better in 2018 and could create a (pretty unlikely) situation where Machado wouldn't want to leave. I say unlikely because there is literally no recent example of a rental superstar signing with the acquiring team before free agency. Even when guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Matt Holliday re-upped with the Mets and Cardinals, it was only after first testing the market.

Want the most recent example of it actually happening? It was 2002 when Scott Rolen re-signed with the Cardinals shortly after being traded by the Phillies. So we're talking 16 years.

Let's break down all the key points here.

Minuscule chance he signs before free agency
No matter what team might acquire Machado this summer, it makes little sense for him to sign a contract extension before first seeing what other teams will offer this winter. Even if a team like the Phillies, Dodgers or Cubs trades for Machado in July and offers him a $275 million extension, why would he sign it? Theoretically, that same offer would still be there a few months later, and the price would only surge if a bidding war between big-market teams ensues. Which it will.

Machado is such an amazing player that his market will be vast. The fact he can play both shortstop and third base is a huge factor as well. If he could play only one position, the list of fits would be reduced. But even the teams set at both shortstop and third base could move guys around to make room for a superstar.

How much is too much to give up in a trade?
With Machado being a two-month rental this season, the Orioles' asking price just cannot be as high as it would have been last winter or last summer.

Look, for example, at the J.D. Martinez trade from last July. The Tigers dealt him to the Diamondbacks in exchange for a three-player package that almost every analyst deemed light. None of the players the Tigers received were listed among the top 10 D-backs prospects on the major sites.

That was despite the fact that Martinez had gotten off to a great start in Detroit, hitting .305/.388/.630 with 16 homers in 200 at-bats.

Occasionally, there still are overpays for rentals, but it takes the right team and the right fit. In 2016, the Cubs could smell a World Series and traded exciting shortstop Gleyber Torres to the Yankees for two months of Aroldis Chapman. It worked for both teams, with the Cubs winning it all and Torres now playing every day for the Yankees.

The difference with the Phillies in this situation is that they are not merely one piece away like the 2016 Cubs. 

So, what's a legit trade package?
If the Phillies were to offer the Orioles J.P. Crawford, Dylan Cozens and a pitching prospect or two, that might at least get a conversation started.

Some will read that paragraph and immediately react with, "How could you give away 5½ inexpensive years of Crawford for a rental?"

Well ... how valuable is 5½ inexpensive years of Crawford if he's not the player we thought he might be? Crawford is extremely early into his major-league career, but so far he has been below average offensively and inconsistent defensively. He's the kind of player who makes sense in a trade like this because another organization might view him as young enough to reach his ceiling.

With Cozens, he's somewhat blocked in this organization but continues to put up big power numbers at Triple A. For some teams, he'd at least have been given a cup of coffee in the majors already. But the Phillies, at this point, have a surplus of outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins and Roman Quinn (if he can ever stay healthy). The Phils also used their last three first-round picks on outfielders, though all three have underwhelmed to this point.

As for the third piece of this concocted offer, the pitching prospect, we are not talking Sixto Sanchez here. You simply don't get an organization's best pitching prospect for a two-month rental.

But the Phils have more than one intriguing young arm in their minor-league system. Cole Irvin and Enyel De Los Santos have been great this season at Triple A. The Double A guys — Franklyn Kilome, JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez and Elniery Garcia — have struggled so far but all have potential.

The Orioles need help everywhere, so there's no specific player or position they'd be looking for in return. They just need quality and quantity because they have aging veterans, a truly awful starting rotation and one of the sport's most barren farm systems.