The Phillies beat the Nationals 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Game was all about Cole Hamels. Pitching in Roy Oswalt's spot, the '08 World Series MVP didn't do much except go the full nine. Hamels allowed five hits and one run--a solo shot--while striking out six, but the big number was 27 first pitch strikes. He got it done at the plate too, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored.
The win gave Hamels his fourth, tied for most in the NL. His ERA dipped to 2.66, and it's the fifth consecutive start he went at least seven innings. The Phillies have won all five.
[watch Cole Hamels first career triple here]
It was not a completely unremarkable night for the offense either. Jimmy Rollins led off and set the table nicely, getting on base three times and driving in a run. Raul Ibanez ended an 0-for-36 slump, going for a pair of doubles and an RBI.
A dismal 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position crippled the lineup's ability to put the game out of reach.
Jayson Werth received a warm welcome upon his first return to Citizens Bank Park. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) He was a non-factor at the dish, but he may have misplayed a couple balls in the outfield that ultimately resulted in runs.
In the grand scheme, the Phillies gained a game on the Marlins, and they are in sole possession of first place after Florida's loss to St. Louis. All is right in the world.
The Phillies are putting the finishing touches on a deal with outfielder Michael Saunders, according to a source.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported the deal was close early Monday afternoon.
When the medical reviews and other loose ends are complete, Saunders will end up with a one-year contract for 2017. It is believed that there will be an option for 2018.
Saunders, 30, will give the Phils the left-handed bat they’ve been looking for in the outfield. Saunders is likely to play right field and his addition will likely push Roman Quinn back to Triple A, where he will get more seasoning.
Saunders is a veteran of eight seasons in the majors. He played in a career-high 140 games with Toronto in 2016 and made the American League All-Star team on the strength of a first half in which he hit .298 with 16 homers, 42 RBIs and a .923 OPS. He fell off in the second half and hit just .178 with eight homers, 15 RBIs and a .638 OPS. Saunders finished the season at .253/24/57/.815.
With less than a month to go before spring training, the Phillies are likely done with their significant offseason moves. The offseason began with trades for reliever Pat Neshek and outfielder Howie Kendrick. Later in the winter, the club traded for starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and signed reliever Joaquin Benoit. Now Saunders is on his way.
It didn't take long for Villanova to get back to the top of the AP poll.
A week, to be exact.
The 'Cats jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 in this week's AP poll, edging out No. 2 Kansas by just 16 total voting points. Villanova had 1,580 total points compared to the 1,562 total points the No. 2 Jayhawks received from voters.
In a twist, the 16-1 Jayhawks actually had more first-place votes than the 17-1 Wildcats. Kansas received 32 first-place votes compared to Villanova's 28 first-place votes. But total votes are the deciding factor, so, advatange: Wildcats.
UCLA hopped up to No. 3, Gonzaga jumped up to No. 4 and Kentucky checked in at No. 5 to round out this week's top five.
Baylor, the No. 1 team in the land last week, fell to No. 6 after it was blown out by No. 7 West Virginia.
Beginning on Dec. 5, Villanova was No. 1 for five straight weeks before falling at No. 13 Butler on Jan. 5 and seeing a 20-game win streak come to an end.
Jay Wright's Wildcats blew past No. 22 Xavier and St. John's last week, but will face another Big East test when 12-5 Seton Hall visits The Pavilion on Monday night. The last time Villanova and Seton Hall met, the Pirates upset the Wildcats at MSG in the final of last season's Big East Tournament.
The Wildcats' schedule this week is closed out with a visit from Providence on Saturday afternoon.