Phillies

Tonight's lineup: Phillies begin final road series with familiar lineup

Tonight's lineup: Phillies begin final road series with familiar lineup

For the first four months of the season, 100 losses appeared inevitable. Not anymore.

Despite failing to complete a four-game sweep of the MLB-best Dodgers Thursday afternoon, the Phillies begin their final road series tonight in Atlanta coming off a 7-3 homestand. At 61-92 and nine games left, 100 losses seem highly unlikely.

Since the All-Star break, the Phillies are 32-34. Since Aug. 10, when they called up first baseman Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia is 19-23. Since Sept. 1, the Phillies are 11-9. After a long season of losing, now with young blood, the Phillies are tasting victory.

Tonight, manager Pete Mackanin is sticking with a lineup that's worked, with Hoskins batting cleanup, Nick Williams in right field and hitting third and J.P. Crawford batting eighth and playing third base.

With Freddy Galvis manning shortstop, Crawford has been seeing a lot of time at third base recently as the Phillies get a long look at Crawford in the majors.

The 22-year-old has not looked out of place either. Crawford on Thursday made four exceptional defensive plays in the Phillies' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers.

In addition to his defense, Crawford is heating up offensively too. He still has yet to hit his first career homer, but he is coming off a three-walk game Thursday. Crawford has eight walks in his last five games.

"He was advertised as someone who controls the strike zone," Mackanin said Thursday, "and he's proven that he can do that."

On Thursday, Crawford said the transition to third base has been seamless, and now that he's gotten his footing down in the big leagues, he's more comfortable in the batter's box.

Taking three of four games against the Dodgers with a team powered by young players — Hoskins, Williams, Odubel Herrera — gave Crawford hope for things to come.

"It showed me that we can compete with the best teams in the league," Crawford said Thursday. "I just can't wait for what next year has in store for us."

The Phillies will look to continue their recent success Friday night against the Braves. Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94) will make his second-to-last start of the season.
   
Lively has faced the Braves just once, his second career start on June 8. The right-hander allowed three runs on nine hits over seven innings in a 3-1 loss.
   
He's second behind RHP Aaron Nola on the Phillies with nine quality starts. His last outing on Sept. 16 against Oakland was cut short because of rain.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, LF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
8. J.P. Crawford, 3B
9. Ben Lively, P

And the Braves' lineup:

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Kurt Suzuki, C
6. Johan Camargo, 3B
7. Lane Adams, LF
8. Dansby Swanson, SS
9. Sean Newcomb, P

Roy Halladay looking like a Hall of Fame lock this year, based on votes gathered

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AP Images

Roy Halladay looking like a Hall of Fame lock this year, based on votes gathered

On Jan. 22, we will find out whether Roy Halladay will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

And based on the votes compiled so far, Doc looks like a lock.

Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs on Twitter) has been tracking and obtaining ballots from Hall of Fame voters for years. 

And his findings so far reveal that Halladay is trailing only Mariano Rivera on this year's ballot

Halladay has received 94.0 percent of the 179 votes obtained. It means that he needs only 59.6 percent of remaining votes to reach the 75 percent threshold needed for induction.

It is obviously extremely sad that Halladay will not get to experience it. There was no pitcher of his era who commanded more respect and that legacy will last for decades and decades and decades. It's hard to find anyone — a baseball player, manager, front office-type or writer — whom Halladay failed to make a positive, lasting impression on. It will be another bittersweet moment for fans of the Phillies, Blue Jays and baseball in general when Halladay is posthumously inducted. 

The induction ceremony will take place in Cooperstown on Sunday, July 21 at 1:30 p.m.

Curt Schilling may also get the call to the Hall this year. It's his seventh time on the ballot, and so far, he's received 73.9 percent of public/anonymous votes, which is just short. He'd need 75.9 percent of remaining voters to back him to reach the induction requirement.

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Manny Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, not happy with a couple reporters

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USA Today Images

Manny Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, not happy with a couple reporters

There’s been a lot of back and forth so far this offseason in the national media with regard to Manny Machado. This week alone, ESPN has contradicted itself in reporting the number of years Machado has been offered by the White Sox.

Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, isn’t happy with how negotiations have been portrayed in the media, calling a couple of national reporters out by name.

You can understand why, because if the Buster Olney report Wednesday is accurate, the White Sox offer would be hard to take seriously (see story).

Lozano acknowledges this in the statement, but a contributing factor to the madness in the national media this winter has been the pace of the MLB offseason, which has gotten uncontrollably slow. When two superstars linger in free agency and delay the process this long for solid players available behind them, it invites speculation and games of leverage.

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