Phillies Lose in 14, Protest over Controversial Replay

Phillies Lose in 14, Protest over Controversial Replay

The Philadelphia Phillies will await a ruling from league office following their 14-inning 5-4 loss to the Florida Marlins Sunday afternoon. The game was finished under protest after a controversial video replay in the sixth inning. The league's decision has not yet been announced and a timetable for said decision seems unknown.

So, what happened?

With no outs and one on in the top of the sixth, Hunter Pence hit a ball within feet, if not inches, of the right field wall. Just as Marlin outfielder Bryan Petersen left his feet to make a play, two fans—one of whom was attired in a Phillies hat and jersey—reached over the wall to interfere with the ball. With Petersen prevented from making the catch, the ball landed safely on the warning track and bounced toward the right field corner, resulting in a double.

This is the point where things became, to borrow a Wheeler-ism, "goofy."

Following the understandable complaints of Marlins manager Jack McKeon, first base umpire Joe West left the field of play, sending the game into a 13-minute delay. Upon his return, West declared that Hunter Pence was to be ruled out as a result of the interference, and that base runner Ryan Howard, who had made it to third thanks to Pence's double, would be sent back to first.

Three batters later, Wilson Valdez grounded into an inning-ending double play, leaving the score at 2-2. From there, the Marlins would take a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a Jose Lopez single to right.

Continuing the chaos that started just one inning prior, Ryan Howard would retake the lead for the Phillies in the top of the seventh, scoring Shane Victorino and Michael Martinez to register his league-leading 105th and 106th RBIs of the season.

Unfortunately, Michael Scwimmer proved unable to hold the lead. Though he did work his way out of a bases loaded jam, Schwimmer nonetheless surrendered the game-tying run in the eighth.

Neither team would score in the ninth, extending the 4-4 ballgame to extra innings.

Attempting to make up for his not so enviable club-joining performance Saturday night, David Herndon pitched three straight innings of shutout ball in acid-reflux-inducingly spectacular fashion. The beleaguered reliever issued two separate intentional walks in both the 12th and 13th innings to load the bases with one out. On both occasions, he would stroll back to the Phillies dug out unscathed.

He was not so lucky in the 14th.

With the bases loaded for the third time in three innings, Herndon eventually caved, allowing, on this occasion, an UN-intentional walk to Mike Cameron to end the ballgame. Final score: 5-4 Marlins.

If you find David Herndon's performance impressive, or even just odd, consider that Herndon would record more intentional walks than innings pitched on Sunday afternoon (5 IBB in 4 IP). By himself, Herndon would cause the Marlins to strand 11 of their game total 23 runners left on base.

Yes. "Goofy."

Rules Surrounding the Phillies Protest
Following the West ruling, an incensed Charlie Manuel was quickly ejected, leaving Pete Mackanin to inform the umpiring crew that the Phillies would play the remainder of the game under protest. League rules stipulate that games played under protest can be restarted from the point of protest should the league find that an umpiring crew jeopardized the protesting team's opportunity to win the ballgame due to a violation of the rules. As Scott Franzke put it on the radio broadcast, "Well, it seems pretty clear that's exactly what we have here."
The outraged radio voice of the Phillies was referring to the fact that instant replay—in its current incarnation—may only be used to review whether or not a hit should be ruled a home run. Because Pence was originally ruled safe at second, and the play was never called a home run, the Phillies contend that West's use of instant replay was a violation of the rules, and that fan interference is not reviewable in scenarios not involving a boundary dispute.

Before we get too far into this, here's a friendly reminder from a post we did roughly two months ago regarding this same sort of of issue: "Dear Phillies Fans, Please don't reach into the field of play for any reason whatsoever. Ever." A--clowns.

Now that that's out of the way, we would provide for you a copy of the MLB instant replay rules, if we could actually find them. For whatever reason, the replay rules do not appear in the most recent copy of the MLB rulebook. That said, MLB.com has posted a video of the incident, which you can find here. If you have any more luck than we did finding the replay rules, we do encourage you to send them along.

Back to the protest, broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler repeated multiple times throughout the game that "all bets are off" on the success of the appeal should West claim his intent was to review whether or not the ball left the yard. The umpire will be required to fill out a post-game report explaining his decision.

Well, what do you think? Did Joe West get the call right? Or was his decision a violation of the Major League Baseball rules governing video review?

Wideouts Rueben Randle, Chris Givens among 8 players cut by Eagles Sunday

Wideouts Rueben Randle, Chris Givens among 8 players cut by Eagles Sunday

The Eagles released Rueben Randle and Chris Givens on Sunday, ending the brief and disappointing Eagles careers of both veteran wide receivers.

The two receivers were among eight players released by the team on Sunday evening.

Randle caught five passes for 26 yards in the preseason and Givens caught one for 19 yards.

The Eagles tried to bolster their receiver corps by adding the two receivers this offseason, signing Randle to a one-year, $1,025,000 contract and Givens to a one-year $760,000 deal.

Randle got $500,000 guaranteed and Givens $180,000 guaranteed, so the two moves will count $680,000 against the Eagles’ 2016 adjusted salary cap of $161,570,362.

The moves leave the Eagles with eight wide receivers: Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Josh Huff, Paul Turner, Marcus Johnson, Cayleb Jones and David Watford.

Barring any other personnel moves, Matthews, Agholor, Green-Beckham, Huff and Turner appear headed for the final 53-man roster.

Randle’s decline is fairly astonishing.

Two years ago with the Giants, he caught 71 passes for 938 yards, and last year he caught 57 passes for 797 yards and eight touchdowns. He had four catches of 40 yards or more in 2015, fourth-most in the NFL. In four seasons in New York, he caught 188 passes for 2,644 yards and 20 TDs.

Yet the Giants had no interest in re-signing him. Now the former second-round pick’s career is in jeopardy at the age of 25.

Givens, a fourth-round pick of the Rams in 2012, was with his third team in two years this summer. His once-promising career could be over at the age of 26.

Most notable among the six other players released was offensive tackle Andrew Gardner, who started 11 games in an Eagles uniform.

Gardner, who had also spent time with the Dolphins and Texans, started eight games at right guard and right tackle for the Eagles in 2014 and was the Eagles’ opening-day starter last year at right guard. He suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot during a Week 3 game against the Jets at the Meadowlands and missed the rest of the season.

Also released was a member of last year’s draft class, sixth-round pick Randall Evans out of Kansas State. Evans spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad but was activated for the Pat Shurmur season finale against the Giants at the Meadowlands and got into the game on special teams.

The Eagles also released veteran defensive tackle Mike Martin, who played in 46 games for the Titans the last four years, including five starts. Also released were long snapper John DePalma and cornerback Denzel Rice, the latter of who played in five games last year and got 20 defensive snaps in the season finale against the Giants last year.

The Eagles also placed linebacker Joe Walker (knee) and defensive end Alex McCalister (calf), two rookie seventh-round picks, on season-ending Injured Reserve.

Teams have until Tuesday to reduce rosters to 75. The Eagles’ roster is currently at 73, and they have to reduce it to 53 by 4 p.m. next Sunday.

The Eagles finish the preseason on Thursday night at the Linc against the Jets.

Best of MLB: Josh Donaldson mashes 3 home runs to lead Blue Jays past Twins

Best of MLB: Josh Donaldson mashes 3 home runs to lead Blue Jays past Twins

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson had his first career three-homer game, Troy Tulowitzki also went deep and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 9-6 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Donaldson hit a solo homer off Kyle Gibson in the second, then delivered a go-ahead, two-run blast off Pat Light (0-1) in the seventh.

Dozens of fans tossed hats onto the field to celebrate the home run hat trick after Donaldson, the AL MVP in 2015, hit a solo shot off Alex Wimmers in the eighth. Groundskeepers and even the Blue Jays mascot helped clear the hats away.

Donaldson's fourth multi-homer game this season and the 10th of his career also marked the 17th three-homer game in the majors this season.

Jose Bautista had his first three-hit game of the season for the AL East-leading Blue Jays.

Minnesota lost its season-worst 10th straight. The Twins have lost seven straight in Toronto.

Scott Feldman (7-4) earned the win by getting two outs in the seventh. Jason Grilli worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna finished (see full recap). 

Pirates win 8th straight on road, sweep Brewers 3-1
MILWAUKEE -- Ivan Nova threw six sharp innings before leaving early because of a hurting left hamstring and the Pittsburgh Pirates hit three solo homers to rally past the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 on Sunday for their eighth straight road victory.

John Jaso and Gregory Polanco each homered in the sixth off Brewers starter Chase Anderson (7-11) to complete Pittsburgh's first sweep at Miller Park since 2004. Starling Marte added a solo shot in the eighth.

Nova (4-0) retired 10 of his final 11 batters after allowing Jonathan Villar's solo homer in the third. He scattered three hits and struck out four before being pinch hit for in the seventh.

Tony Watson pitched a clean ninth for his 10th save in 13 opportunities (see full recap).

Archer strikes out 10, Rays hit 3 HRs in 10-4 win vs Astros
HOUSTON -- Chris Archer struck out 10 in seven innings, Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros 10-4 on Sunday.

Matt Duffy and Nick Franklin also went deep for the last-place Rays, who have homered in 21 of their last 24 games.

Houston, in the hunt for an AL wild card, had won three straight.

Archer (8-17) gave up three runs and four hits with two walks. With his strikeout of A.J. Reed in the sixth, the right-hander joined David Price and James Shields as the only Tampa Bay pitchers with multiple 200-strikeout seasons.

The Rays jumped out early against Doug Fister.

Fister (12-9) allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, the fourth time in his past seven starts he has permitted four or more runs (see full recap). 

Calming presence behind plate, A.J. Ellis provides offensive spark in Phillies' win over Mets

Calming presence behind plate, A.J. Ellis provides offensive spark in Phillies' win over Mets

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- A.J. Ellis’ first game as a Phillie certainly went a lot better than Carlos Ruiz’s first game as a Dodger.

Ellis’ first hit with his new club helped the Phils salvage one game of a weekend series with the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon. The Phillies won it, 5-1 (see Instant Replay), behind a solid start from Vince Velasquez, excellent bullpen work and Ellis’ big hit, a tie-breaking, two-run double in the top of the seventh.

The Phillies had lost the first two games of the series by a combined score of 21-5. Their pitchers gave up eight homers in the first two games.

On Sunday, Velasquez and a quartet of relievers held the Mets to seven hits, all singles.

Ellis joined the Phillies just 24 hours earlier after being traded from the Dodgers on Thursday. He had been with that club his whole career.

Ruiz, of course, had been with the Phillies his whole career.

Ruiz’s first game with the Dodgers did not go nearly as smooth. The veteran catcher had trouble handling the pitches of closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning Friday night and that contributed to the Dodgers blowing a one-run lead and losing to the Chicago Cubs in 10 innings.

Leaving the Dodgers was difficult and emotional for Ellis. He was able to bury himself in the game Sunday and came away feeling pretty good.

“It’s just great to be playing baseball again,” he said, standing in front of his locker, a blue Dodgers equipment bag (that will soon be swapped out for a Phillies bag) at his feet. “You kind of lose yourself in the competition and then just play again.

“Regardless of what’s happened in the last four days, it feels good to drive in runs, feels good to help put your team ahead and help contribute to a team win.”

During his 24 or so hours with the Phillies, Ellis has immersed himself in learning a new staff of pitchers. He caught starters Jerad Eickhoff and Jake Thompson in the bullpen before Saturday’s game and warmed up several relievers during that game.

On Sunday morning, he arrived at Citi Field, saw his name in the lineup and immediately began prepping to catch Velasquez, the hardest-thrower on the Phillies’ starting staff.

Velasquez bounced back from three poor outings in which he gave up 19 runs in 17 1/3 innings and held a hot Mets lineup to a run over five innings. The only negative was that Velasquez could not pitch deeper into the game because his command was poor and needed 103 pitches to complete the five innings.

Nonetheless, Ellis, who was the personal catcher for Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles, liked what he saw of Velasquez.

“His pitch count got elevated the first two innings and he was able to grind through the last three,” Ellis said. “The stuff is electric. He has so many weapons, so many options. When he keeps growing and keeps polishing that gift up, it’s going to be really, really special.

“So I’m excited to be able to continue to work with him, excited to work with him and (pitching coach) Bob McClure and (No. 1 catcher) Cameron Rupp, kind of talk to them about things, things he sees, things we see, and together we can build a plan for him going forward in his career.”

Two things are going to help the 24-year-old Velasquez reach his potential.

First is good health. He’s had arm problems in the past and there remain concerns about his long-term durability. That’s why the Phillies are closely monitoring his workload as this season winds down.

Second is command, control, economy of pitches – whatever you want to call it. Velasquez needs to be more efficient. Too many times he’s left games in the middle innings because of a high pitch count.

“Definitely,” he responded when asked if lowering his pitch counts and working deeper into games was the key to his improvement. “It’s going to help the longevity, it saves the bullpen, it helps out everybody. Not just on my end, but the whole team in general.

“And,” he joked, “then I can also work on my swing by getting some more at-bats.”

Despite the high pitch count, Velasquez walked just one. He struck out seven. He is up to 129 innings for the season. That includes five innings in a rehab game at Double A Reading. The Phillies will look to keep him at about 150 innings for the season. That could be three, four or five more starts, depending on how long the right-hander lasts. He’s averaged just over five innings in his starts this season.

“I think that would be the right move,” Velasquez said of the 150-inning target.