Strong outings from Hamels, Giles end Phils' skid

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Strong outings from Hamels, Giles end Phils' skid

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MILWAUKEE -- There will come a time in the coming weeks and months when the Phillies will reach an inevitable transition stage. Personnel changes will be made as the Phils try to reverse their losing ways and become a contender again.

No matter what changes are made, it seems likely that Cole Hamels will stick around. Sure, the Phils will listen to offers for the 30-year-old lefty -- and if they’re blown away, well, you never know -- but at this moment it seems more likely that Hamels will be the nucleus that they build around.

Reliever Ken Giles is one of the players the Phils will use to build around Hamels.

So, in some ways, Monday night offered a little glimpse of the future. Hamels pitched 6 2/3 strong innings and the power-armed Giles got four big outs in crunch time to preserve a one-run lead as the Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 3-2, at Miller Park (see Instant Replay)

Hamels’ goal is always to pitch a complete game, but he had no qualms handing the ball to the 23-year-old Giles with two outs in the seventh and two men on base.

“He’s very impressive,” Hamels said. “Any time you know he’s coming in the ballgame you can definitely sit back and watch and know that you’re in good hands because he’s got amazing stuff.

“You can kind of tell with his presence out there he really wants to get the job done and he’s confident with what he’s got. He doesn’t have that fear, that uncertainty. He’s good. He’s going to be somebody that’s going to be in the back of that bullpen for a really long time for the Phillies and he’s going to put up some good numbers.”

Giles already has put up good numbers in his month in the majors. In 11 2/3 innings, he has allowed four hits and one run. (That run came in his first inning.) He has registered 17 strikeouts and walked just three.

Monday night’s assignment was Giles’ toughest yet in the majors. Milwaukee’s lineup was stacked with right-handed bats, so manager Ryne Sandberg used Giles in the tight situation instead of lefty Jake Diekman.

The Brewers are an aggressive, fastball-hitting team, so Giles featured his slider early in the eighth inning. He had trouble throwing it for strikes early in the inning and paid for it by falling behind in the count and giving up a double to Ryan Braun to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Eventually, Giles got the handle on his slider and located his fastball well enough to get out of the inning. It also helped that Brewers pinch-runner Logan Schafer made a costly baserunning error in a one-run game.

“In a 3-2 game, it was probably his biggest moment yet, facing the heart of the order in that situation,” Sandberg said of Giles.

Giles remains unfazed by his early success. He does not appear to be a guy who thinks too much and sometimes that can be a good thing.

“That’s what I’ve been prepared to do the whole time I’ve been here,” he said. “All I’ve tried to do is get outs. I don’t try to do too much.

“I don’t think it’s easy. I just prepare for each game. I study the hitters and try to carry out what I’m trying to do.”

The Phillies had entered the game with one win in the previous six games on this trip. They were hitting .170 in those six games. That led an unhappy GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to threaten changes before Monday night’s game (see story).

Amaro’s words may have resonated -- at least for a while -- in the Phillies’ clubhouse because Chase Utley staked the Phillies to a 2-0 lead with a home run in the first inning and Ryan Howard made it a 3-0 lead with an RBI single in the third. It was the first time the Phils led by three runs since June 24, a span of 14 games.

It was just Utley’s second extra-base hit in the last 23 games.

For Howard, it was just his second RBI in the last 18 games.

The Phillies’ offense went into shutdown mode after the third inning, but the pitching was able to make the lead stand up for just the team’s second win in the last 11 games.

Hamels, long a victim of poor run support, was thrilled to get the early two-run homer from Utley.

“OK, I have something to work with,” he said. “But I still have to put up zeroes.

“My job is to go out there, pitch deep into the game, prevent runs and keep the lead. It was good to be able to do that.”

Source: Phillies agree to 1-year deal with reliever Joaquin Benoit

Source: Phillies agree to 1-year deal with reliever Joaquin Benoit

The Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, a source tells CSN's Jim Salisbury.

Benoit, 39, was the 11th-oldest pitcher in baseball last season, but he's remained effective as he's aged. Since 2010, Benoit has a 2.40 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, he's struck out 10.0 batters per nine innings while walking 2.8, and allowed a .189 batting average.

Benoit has also maintained his velocity through the years. His fastball averaged 94.2 mph last season, which is actually faster than it was in 2010.

Benoit has been in the majors for 15 years, spending eight with Texas, three with Detroit, two with San Diego, one with Tampa Bay and a half-season apiece with Seattle and Toronto.

Benoit has experience closing but has spent the majority of his career as a setup man. Benoit, along with Hector Neris, figures to have a place in the eighth or ninth inning for the Phillies in 2017, perhaps pushing last year's closer, Jeanmar Gomez, back to the seventh inning.

The Phillies have not yet officially announced the signing of Benoit and will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster to make room for him.

MLB Notes: Dodgers sign LHP Rich Hill to 3-year deal

MLB Notes: Dodgers sign LHP Rich Hill to 3-year deal

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have signed free-agent pitcher Rich Hill to a three-year contract after he went 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts with the team he joined at the trade deadline.

The 36-year-old left-hander was acquired in a five-player trade with Oakland on Aug. 1. Hill was 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in three postseason starts for the NL West champion Dodgers, including tossing six scoreless innings to win Game 3 of the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Hill was 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA in 20 starts for the Dodgers and A's last season. His ERA was second-best in the majors behind Dodgers teammate Clayton Kershaw's 1.69.

Hill was limited at times by a finger blister and a groin injury.

He has a 38-28 career record with a 4.10 ERA in 221 games in 12 major league season with the Cubs, Orioles, Red Sox, Indians, Angels, Yankees, A's and Dodgers.

Japan: Otani could be headed to MLB
TOKYO — Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to Major League Baseball after the 2017 season.

The 22-year-old righthander, who has also shown potential as a hitter, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.

Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

Otani says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.

Blue Jays: Pearce signs
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays signed utility player Steve Pearce to a two-year, $12.5 million contract.

The Blue Jays announced the move Monday. It could spell the end of Edwin Encarnacion's tenure in Toronto as Pearce primarily plays first base and first baseman Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak are also on the roster.

Pearce hit .288 with 13 home runs in 85 games for Tampa Bay and Baltimore last season. The right-handed hitter can also play second base and left and right field and hit .309 against left-handed pitchers.

Not signing fan favorite Encarnacion will not go over well in Toronto, which led the American League in attendance. Encarnacion hit 42 home runs and led the AL with 127 RBIs along with David Ortiz. The Blue Jays might also let free agent right fielder Jose Bautista sign elsewhere.

Toronto has avoided large long-term contracts since Mark Shapiro became president of the club following the 2015 season.

Pearce, 33, underwent surgery to repair flexor tendons in his right forearm in late September and was expected to be out four to six months.