Phillies

World Series: Astros start fast, top Dodgers for 2-1 lead

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World Series: Astros start fast, top Dodgers for 2-1 lead

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HOUSTON — A perfect fit in their own place, the Houston Astros are halfway home.

George Springer and the Astros broke out the bats early this time and kept up their big run at Minute Maid Park in October, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 Friday night for a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

The ballpark was booming from the start, with cheers, chants and a train whistle echoing beneath the closed roof. Deep in the heart of football country, a sellout crowd stood much of the evening. And with every Houston batter getting a hit or walk, fans enjoyed the Friday Night Sights.

"The energy in the building is second to none," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's loud. They're loud from the very beginning."

Yuli Gurriel homered to begin a four-run burst in the second inning that sent Yu Darvish to the shortest start of his career. Astros curveballer Lance McCullers Jr. wobbled, but protected the lead into the sixth.

Brad Peacock rose to the occasion with 3 2/3 innings of hitless relief to put the Astros two wins from their first championship.

Coming off a dramatic rally to win Game 2 at Dodger Stadium, the Astros improved to 7-0 at home this postseason. Jose Altuve & Co. have dominated, too, outscoring the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers 36-10 in that span.

"We're very comfortable here," Hinch said.

Springer lined a leadoff double in the first and the Astros went on to win a home game for the first time in the World Series. They were swept by the White Sox in 2005, and this win left them two victories from a most elusive championship.

Game 4 will be Saturday night when Charlie Morton starts for Houston. Left-hander Alex Wood pitches for the Dodgers, facing a lineup that has put at least one runner on in 14 straight innings.

"Obviously, this crowd is into it. Very educated, very enthusiastic," Dodgers manager Dave Robert said. "They've got some confidence over there, that team."

McCullers left in the sixth as Los Angeles scored twice to cut into a 5-1 deficit. Peacock followed, and shouldered the load for a shaky bullpen by posting his first save in 11 years of pro ball. The right-hander was nearly perfect, walking one and striking out four.

"It was awesome," said Peacock, who made 21 starts and 13 relief appearances during the regular season. "I've never experienced anything like that in my life."

Coupled with four shutout innings from McCullers to finish off the Yankees in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series, the unconventional Astros became the first team to have two saves of three-plus innings in one postseason.

On a night when a lot went right for Houston, also credit third base coach Gary Pettis, who's been having quite a postseason. He boldly sent Josh Reddick careening home on a wild throw by reliever Tony Watson for a two-out run in the fifth.

The Astros rode the momentum of a thrilling victory Wednesday night in Los Angeles, where Marwin Gonzalez hit a tying homer in the ninth on an 0-2 pitch from star closer Kenley Jansen, and Houston went deep three times in extra innings before hanging on to win 7-6 in 11.

Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger almost won that game with a drive that was caught on the warning track in the ninth. He fanned all four times up in Game 3, leaving him 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts in the Series.

"I think he's just in that funk right now where he's chasing balls out of the strike zone," Roberts said.

This game wasn't nearly as dramatic, not that the home crowd minded.

Fans were revved up from the start when injured Houston Texas defensive end J.J. Watt -- who has raised more than $37 million for relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey -- wobbled out to the mound on crutches to throw the first ball.

Soon, it was time for the Houston hitters to take over.

Gurriel homered into the Crawford Boxes in left to begin the second -- he became the 13th hitter already to homer in this Series. Reddick followed with a double and Evan Gattis, the designated hitter with the game in an American League park, drew a walk.

Gonzalez launched a drive off the wall in left and wound up with an RBI single when Gattis held at second, seeing if the ball would be caught. Brian McCann singled home another run with one of his three hits, and Alex Bregman's sacrifice fly made it 4-0.

When Altuve doubled, Darvish was done after 1 2/3 innings. He threw 49 pitches and the Astros swung and missed only once.

Darvish had done well at Minute Maid, going 4-1. That included a 2013 start when he was one out from a perfect game for the Rangers before Gonzalez singled.

"The fastball command wasn't there, and the slider was backing up. So he just really didn't have the feel and couldn't get any type of rhythm going," Roberts said.

Last month, Darvish and several Dodgers players wore Houston Strong T-shirts to raise money for hurricane relief. The four-time All-Star who previously played in Texas also contributed to the relief efforts.

On Thursday, Darvish kidded that maybe his goodwill would lead to good luck.

"Since I made that donation, maybe I can use a ball that doesn't have much pop in it," he said through a translator.

Nope, didn't quite work out that way.

It didn't take long for Freddy Galvis' defense to wow the Padres

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It didn't take long for Freddy Galvis' defense to wow the Padres

It didn't take long for Freddy Galvis to open the eyes of his new teammates.

"I can think of maybe two balls all year long where he did not make a play," Padres manager Andy Green told the San Diego Union-Tribune at the end of June.

"It's the most accurate arm I've ever seen from a shortstop," first baseman Eric Hosmer said in the same piece.

The Phils obviously didn't move on from Galvis because of his defense. They moved on from him because he never reached a higher level with his bat and because they had two young infielders — Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford — they were ready to move forward with.

The Galvis trade was a good one for the Phillies. In exchange for one year of his services, they got a solid young pitcher with upside in Enyel De Los Santos.

It was a move they had to make because Galvis will be a free agent after the season and this gave them the extended look they needed at Kingery and Crawford.

There's no question, though, that the 2018 Phils have missed Galvis' defense. Phillies shortstops have committed 13 errors, seventh most in baseball. Padres shortstops have committed five errors, fewest in the National League and second fewest in the majors.

At the beginning of Galvis' major-league career, his flashy plays stood out but he wasn't as effective with routine plays as Jimmy Rollins was. That changed after Galvis made 17 errors in 2015. In the three seasons since, he's committed just 20 errors combined.

Galvis can make the flashy play, but he also makes almost every single routine play. He knows where to position himself for every hitter, how quickly to release the ball to throw out a speedy runner. 

Over the years, more than a few teammates have commended Galvis' baseball instincts as some of the best they've ever seen. You can't quantify baseball instincts the way you can quantify offensive stats, so there's a portion of fans that will always scoff when Galvis' value is brought up.

"His internal clock, as far when he releases the ball, how much times he has, he just knows all that stuff beforehand," Hosmer told the Union-Tribune. "He's about as fundamentally sound as any infielder I've ever seen."

The Phillies have not gotten the look at Crawford they wanted in 2018. Injuries have limited him to just 34 games, 112 plate appearances and 93 defensive chances at shortstop.

As for Kingery, he should benefit from the everyday playing at shortstop. He's improved defensively as the season has worn on. In a few years, he'll likely be even better with the glove — and, equally important, a more selective hitter.

Galvis has hit .234/.294/.331 this season. Phillies shortstops have hit .238/.286/.352 and played worse defense. 

If this ends up being the worst offensive year of Kingery's career, then his worst numbers would fall in line with Galvis' career averages (.244/.288/.367).

It will be interesting to see where Galvis ends up this offseason. A team with a powerful and deep lineup — the Brewers, the Diamondbacks — can win with Galvis and effectively hide him in the 8-spot. If the Phillies had better offenses all those years, the weak aspects of his game wouldn't have been as pronounced.

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No Manny, no problem — these Phillies believe they're good enough to keep winning

No Manny, no problem — these Phillies believe they're good enough to keep winning

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The Phillies did not win the Manny Machado sweepstakes and, for one night at least, it didn’t really matter. The team’s offense showed up big in an 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night (see first take).

“There's a lot of teams out there that wanted Machado because he's pretty much going to help anybody," Jake Arrieta said after the game. "But we've gotten into the position we are with the guys we have. 

"Would it have been cool to have a guy like that? Yeah. On the flip side, it gives other guys more opportunity to show they can produce at a high level and help us continue the way we’ve been playing.”

Arrieta got the ball in the first game back from the All-Star break, but he did not produce at a high level. He did not make it out of the fourth inning and allowed five runs. His teammates bailed him out, though, scoring six runs in the second inning and four more in the eighth as the Phils maintained their half-game lead on Atlanta in the NL East and improved to 54-42.

The crowd was 30,034, so folks are beginning to notice the progress that this team has made.

The Phillies played sloppy ball early in the game. Arrieta and catcher Jorge Alfaro both made errors. There was a wild pitch. Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco both ran the bases a little recklessly.

But the Phils were able to play over these flaws because the bullpen came up huge with 5 2/3 shutout innings — rookie Austin Davis got his first big-league win — and the offense delivered 12 hits, including a huge, game-changing, three-run homer by Carlos Santana in the bottom of the second inning.

It was Santana’s 15th homer. The Phillies will need more power from him in the middle of the order as the second half unfolds. The need for pop is the reason the Phillies pursued Machado, who ended up in Los Angeles.

“Great player, man,” de facto team captain Rhys Hoskins said. “The Dodgers got a great player.

“But I think we’ve always thought that we can surprise a lot of people with the people we have in this room. We have a lot of talent. There hasn’t really been a time this year when we’ve all clicked at the same time, which I think is pretty exciting. And it’s going to happen at some point this year, hopefully for a long period of time. We’re in first place and that hasn’t happened yet, so that’s exciting.”

Manager Gabe Kapler began the day brushing off questions about Machado and expressing faith in his team as it is currently constructed.

“I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the men in that room,” he said. “We have everything we need. If we make additions — fantastic. But what we have is all we need. I’m really impressed with the group. We’re in first place for a reason. We didn’t get there with anybody but the men in that clubhouse right now.”

Santana echoed those comments after the game.

“Machado is a great player, but we believe in what we have here,” he said. “We have great talent. I know we have a lot of younger players, and I know sometimes people don't feel good about Philadelphia, but we believe.”

Santana and Arrieta are two of only a few Phillies players who’ve been involved in a pennant race previously. Arrieta had pitched well in his previous three starts before allowing six hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings Friday night. He will need to pitch better than that if the Phils are going to stay in the race — and he knows it.

“When you’re behind early like that, it’s just really nice to see the team be able to pick you up,” Arrieta said. “I didn’t really have much tonight. They picked me up, and that’s something that I intend to do when it’s my opportunity to do that for our guys, when we have that need.”

Arrieta did make an important offensive contribution when he beat out a potential inning-ending double-play ball to keep the second inning alive. Cesar Hernandez and Hoskins (RBI) then worked walks against Clayton Richard before Herrera stroked a two-run single and Santana blasted his three-run homer. All the runs came with two outs with walks filling the bases and big hits clearing them.

The Phillies erupted for four runs in the bottom of the eighth, building a two-run lead to a six-run lead. The importance of that rally was huge as it allowed Kapler to stay away from bullpen ace Seranthony Dominguez. He will be fresh as the Phillies look to make it two in a row over the Padres on Saturday night.

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