Phillies crush Dodgers behind offensive onslaught


Phillies crush Dodgers behind offensive onslaught


LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers have been playing in Los Angeles since 1958 and never have they suffered a loss this one-sided.

And to think, it came at the hands of the Phillies, a team that has had trouble scoring runs all season and entered the night averaging just 3.75 runs per game.

What’s that thing Charlie Manuel likes to say? Oh, yeah, baseball’s a funny game.

Riding a 21-hit attack and the strong starting pitching of John Lannan, the Phillies walloped the Dodgers, 16-1, on Friday night (see Instant Replay). It was the Dodgers’ worst home loss since leaving Brooklyn.

“We had a real good night,” Manuel said. “That tells you we can score and get hits. We needed a game like this. Hopefully it carries over.”

This marked the first time all season the Phils reached double-digit runs. Last year, the Phils scored double-digit runs six times. They did it 12 times in 2011.

The Phils arrived at the mathematical halfway point of the season with a 39-42 record. They are 3-2 on this important 10-game road trip, and here’s the galling part of that: They coulda, woulda, shoulda won the two games they lost. They blew a lead in the ninth inning in one of those losses and in the seventh inning in the other.

“That’s the consistency we always talk about,” Manuel said.

Friday night’s offensive charge was led by Michael Young, who had four hits, including a homer, in the ballpark of his boyhood dreams.

“I love this place,” Young, a Los Angeles-area native, said of Dodger Stadium. “My earliest memories of loving baseball started in this ballpark.

“We were overdue for a game like this. We’ve all been on the other side of these things. It’s just one of those odd games where we found some holes and got some breaks.”

Another Los Angeles-area guy had a big night with the stick. Delmon Young had three hits, including an RBI single in the first inning and a two-run double in the second. He finished the night with a career-high six RBIs.

Delmon Young’s second-inning double was his seventh straight hit in a three-game span. He is 9 for 14 in those three games, a spree that coincided with Manuel’s saying that it was time for Delmon Young to kick it in gear.

Three games ago, Delmon Young was hitting .222. Now he’s at .259.

“Maybe he heard me,” Manuel said of Delmon Young.

Delmon Young missed the first month recovering from ankle surgery. He has continually said he was a slow starter and would be a different hitter when he got to about 150 at-bats. He is at 158.

“Usually when I get to about 150 at-bats, it starts clicking,” Delmon Young said. “It was a matter of time.”

Delmon Young contributed to the Phils’ all-around solid play by gunning down a man at the plate from right field.

“It was a good game, top to bottom,” he said. “Lannan kept putting up zeroes and we kept having good at-bats.

“We could have won every game on this trip. We need to keep doing that the next couple of weeks and we’ll make up some ground.”

With a half season to go, the Phillies trail Atlanta by 7½ games in the NL East. They play the Braves three times on the next homestand.

Lannan joined the hit parade with three of them. On the mound, he benefited from his teammates building a six-run lead against lefty Chris Capuano after two innings.

“It’s good to get that run support,” said Lannan, who is 1-2 in six starts with the Phils. “It forced me to pound the zone.”

The Phils’ biggest offensive night of the season came with their highest-paid hitter, Ryan Howard, sitting on the bench (see story). He must have felt like the guy who called in sick the day the folks at the office chipped in and bought the winning Power Ball ticket.

Howard will sit again Saturday as he tries to clear his head and stay away from one of those left-handed starters that have given him fits. Howard will return to the lineup Sunday. By then we’ll have an idea whether Friday night’s one-sided win was a streak-builder for the Phils or an aberration.

6 months later, Cubs' Kyle Schwarber returns for World Series Game 1

6 months later, Cubs' Kyle Schwarber returns for World Series Game 1

CLEVELAND — Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber's rehab finished just in time for the World Series.

Schwarber will bat fifth and be the designated hitter for the National League champions in Game 1 on Tuesday night against Cleveland's Corey Kluber. Schwarber hasn't played in the majors since tearing ligaments in his left knee on April 7 in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler.

Dallas Cowboys orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Cooper operated 12 days later to repair torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. He was expected to miss the rest of the season but was cleared to return on Oct. 17.

Schwarber played a pair of games in the Arizona Fall League, going 1 for 6 with a double and two walks, and flew to Cleveland on Monday.

Once ridiculed in Philly, Terry Francona is 4 wins from Cooperstown

Once ridiculed in Philly, Terry Francona is 4 wins from Cooperstown

If Terry Francona wins four ballgames over these next nine days, he is going to Cooperstown.

And not as a visitor.

Francona sits at the helm of a Cleveland Indians team that has so far rolled through the postseason, winning eight of nine games as it opens play Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs in a World Series that is filled with compelling storylines.

Of course, the biggest storyline is the “Lovable Loser” angle.

Both clubs long ago became punch lines for their failures. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and their shortcomings have been blamed on everything from the curse of a billy goat to black cats to too many day games at Wrigley Field to Steve Bartman. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. They were so notoriously synonymous with losing that Hollywood made a couple of movies about them. Well, sort of.

With four more wins, one of these teams will shed the Lovable Loser tag forever.

And if it’s Francona’s Indians, he will forever be honored with a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. You can bank on it. That’s where managers who win three World Series end up.

Time flies.

It was 20 years ago this week that the Phillies hired Francona for his first big-league managerial job. He was 37 at the time. He’d managed at the Double A level with the Chicago White Sox and been on the Detroit Tigers’ big-league coaching staff. Loaded with personality, smarts and the experience that came with growing up in baseball family (his dad played 15 seasons in the majors), being the best college player in the nation at the University of Arizona, and, probably most important, having been humbled by the ups and downs of 10 injury-riddled years as a big-league player, Francona was considered an excellent managerial prospect when the Phillies hired him. But he never deluded himself. He knew he got the job because the Phillies were rebuilding, because they were going to be young and bad for a while and he had the personality and youthful resilience to deal with it all. “If the Phillies were ready to win, they would have hired Jim Leyland or somebody like that,” he used to say.

Francona took over a 95-loss team in Philadelphia. He managed the club for four years, never had a winning season and was jeered out of town with slashed tires after the club lost 97 games in 2000.

Was Terry Francona a great manager in Philadelphia? Nope. Few people are great out of the gate in any line of work. But Francona had little chance to succeed in those Phillies years. There wasn’t close to enough talent on the field. The club was going through a sloooooow rebuild and the organizational focus in those years was probably more about getting a new stadium than putting a winning team on the field.

Francona was committed to becoming a successful manager when he left Philadelphia. That’s why he didn’t want to take a year off after he was fired. He wanted to stay in the game, stay in sight. He took a job in the Indians’ front office, then a year later was back in uniform, first as a coach with the Texas Rangers, then as a coach with the Oakland A’s.

In the fall of 2003, Francona interviewed for managerial jobs in Baltimore and in Boston. At the time, reporters in Baltimore asked him about the possibility of getting a second chance to manage.

“It would be like getting a mulligan,” Francona said.

The answer infuriated some in Philadelphia.

It shouldn’t have.

Francona’s use of the word ‘mulligan’ showed self-awareness, humility and accountability. It showed that he knew he had hooked his first chance into the woods, that he had made mistakes, that he’d learned from them and was ready to tee it up again. Francona’s use of the word mulligan showed how human he was and that is a priceless quality in the art of leading a group of men through the ups and downs of seven months of baseball and getting them to lay it all out for you night after night. Joe Torre had that quality. Charlie Manuel had it. Joe Maddon, the man Francona beat out for the Boston job and now squares off against in the World Series, has it. Francona has it. Just look at the way he kept the Indians believing after injuries wounded their starting pitching.

Of course, all of these aforementioned managers have or had talented players. That ultimately is how you win. Just ask Torre, who was dismissed as a loser until George Steinbrenner gave him some talent. Torre led it beautifully and ended up in the Hall of Fame.

Francona got his second chance to manage in Boston in 2004 and quickly led a talented group of players to a curse-busting title, that franchise’s first World Series championship in 86 years.

He won another in 2007.

He has managed 12 seasons since leaving Philadelphia and the growth experience that it provided. He has won 90 or more games in eight of those seasons. Yeah, he has had good players. But he’s led them well. And he’s done it particularly well this month, maneuvering his bullpen pieces like a master chess champion.

The World Series is upon us and it should be a good one as baseball’s two Lovable Loser franchises vie to end decades of frustration.

And 20 years after his managerial odyssey began with many losses and much ridicule in Philadelphia, Terry Francona, already a big winner in his career, has a chance to punch his ticket to the ultimate winner’s circle, the Hall of Fame, with four more victories and another World Series title.