Walk-off hit gives Phillies sweep of Braves


Walk-off hit gives Phillies sweep of Braves


Charlie Manuel likes to dream up scenarios where his team solves the Atlanta Braves lights out bullpen. Usually, though, Manuel talks about his hope that the youthful Braves relievers struggle with stamina so late in a long baseball season.

With back-end guys Eric OFlaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel sporting microscopic ERAs, while averaging more than a strikeout per inning, late leads are pretty safe for the Braves.

But after a busy three days at Citizens Bank Park where the staff got plenty of work in between waiting out rain delays, the Phillies got a crack at the Braves pen.

Trailing by a run going into the eighth inning, the Phillies rallied for a two-out run off Venters on a single by Placido Polanco to set the stage for Ross Gloads walk-off single in the ninth.

As a result of the 3-2 victory, the Phillies, at 91-48, swept the three-game series against the Braves and extended the lead in the NL East to 10 games. With 23 games remaining in the season, the Phillies magic number to clinch a playoff berth is five. To clinch the NL East title for the fifth year in a row, the Phils magic number is 12.

For now, though, the Phillies are taking a lot out of the comeback against the Braves bullpen. In fact, its especially meaningful at this time of the season when teams will hold onto their best lefty relievers just to face the Phillies big lefty hitters.

Were going to have to hit lefties and in those situations, Manuel said. We played good enough to tie the game up and, of course, Gload got the big hit there at the end. All year long they save left-handed pitchers for us in that situation at the end and we have to come through and get some hits.

Trailing 2-1, the Phillies started the eighth with a pinch single from John Mayberry and a sacrifice bunt from Wilson Valdez off lefty set-up man Venters. After Shane Victorino struck out, Placido Polanco singled home the tying run.

The ninth-inning rally started with a walk to Raul Ibanez and a single to left for Carlos Ruiz to bring Gload up in the big spot.

Four pitches later, Gload ended the game.

For me its huge because I havent had much of anything, Gload said. Ive struggled pretty good. But Ill take it. Its big for me, but its bigger for the team.

Indeed Gload has struggled a bit and then some. Manuel has used Gload strictly as a pinch-hitter this season, largely because he has been playing for nearly all of the season with a torn labrum in his hip. When the season ends, Gload will have to undergo surgery to repair his hip, though he refuses to use it as an excuse for not hitting well.

Its not an excuse so I wont blame anything on the hip injury, Gload said. I work to get hits and if I dont get hits its my fault.

Im getting by. I havent been doing less, if anything Ive been doing more.

Interestingly, even though Gload was batting just .236 with no homers and six RBIs going into Wednesday nights game, the lefty pinch hitter is leading the majors with 17 pinch hits, batting .250 in that role.

Last season, Gload had 15 pinch hits, three of them for homers, and would have had a chance for more if he hadnt gotten injured late in the season.

Either way, Gload has settled into a difficult and sometimes thankless role.

Youre hitting off the better pitchers, but they are pretty big opportunities, said Gload, who is in the final season of his two-year contract. I can think of a couple of those 16 or 17 hits that actually meant something. This one helps out a little bit.

Gloads hit got the win for reliever Ryan Madson, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning. He came on after starter Roy Oswalt tossed seven innings in which he allowed four hits and four walks. Otherwise, the Phillies offense had just one hit until the sixth inning, which was a solo homer in the second from Ibanez.

Nevertheless, it was all a prequel to Gloads game-winner, the pinch-hitter with the bum hip.

Im trying to get through the year and if I can get a couple more hits like that it will be a completely rewarding year for me, Gload said. Hopefully it starts now and it leads into September and October and stuff like that.

E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com.

Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games


Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford singled in Matt Duffy with two outs in the 10th inning, and the surging San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 Wednesday for their 13th win in 14 games.

Duffy singled off Brad Hand (1-2) with one out, pinch-hitter Hunter Pence popped out, Duffy advanced on a wild pitch and Crawford hit a 1-2 offering over center fielder Jon Jay as Duffy scored standing up.

Crawford also singled and scored after some alert baserunning in the second inning. Duffy and Denard Span drove in runs for the NL West-leading Giants.

San Francisco completed a three-game sweep, extended its winning streak to five and improved to 9-0 against the Padres this season. The Giants' two walkoff wins in the series were against Hand (see full recap).

Arrieta moves to 9-0 in Cubs' win over Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Jake Arrieta remained unbeaten on the season despite allowing as many as four runs for the first time in nearly a year and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 on Wednesday.

Arrieta (9-0) joined the White Sox's Chris Sale as the only nine-game winners in the majors.

Arrieta allowed four runs in a regular-season game for the first time since June 16, 2015.

Arrieta became the first Cub to win his first nine decisions since Kenny Holtzman in 1967 and it is the best start to a season for the franchise since Jim McCormick went 16-0 in 1886.

Kris Bryant hit a three-run homer and Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist each drove in two for the Cubs (see full recap).

Bradley extends hit streak to 29 in BoSox victory
BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his major league-best hitting streak to 29 games, Xander Bogaerts homered to extend his hitting streak to 18 games and the Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 10-3 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

Travis Shaw had three RBIs and Boston moved to a season-best 12 games over .500. The Red Sox have scored eight or more runs 10 times in their last 14 home games.

Steven Wright (4-4) had another solid outing, giving up three runs, two earned. He has now given up three runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts.

Chad Bettis (4-3) held the Red Sox scoreless through three innings but was responsible for seven runs over the next two innings before getting pulled.

The Rockies have lost six of their last seven -- all on the road (see full recap).

Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field


Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field


DETROIT — At least Odubel Herrera was honest about it.

“I didn’t expect to hit it that far,” he said with a big grin on his face late Wednesday afternoon.

A couple of hours earlier, Herrera helped key an 8-5 Phillies’ win over the Detroit Tigers with a towering three-run home run into the right-field seats against Anibal Sanchez (see Instant Replay).

Herrera unloaded on the hanging slider and finished with his bat high.

As the bat reached its apex, Herrera didn’t just let it go. He flipped it in the air as if to say, ‘Uh-huh, I crushed that one.’ In the annals of bat flips, it wasn’t quite Jose Bautista quality, but it wasn’t far off. The flip was so dramatic that Herrera admitted after the game that he would not have been surprised if a Tigers pitcher had retaliated and stuck a pitch in his ribs later in the game.

Retribution never came. And Herrera left Detroit with a smile on his face and yet another big day for the Phillies. He is leading the club with a .327 batting average and his .440 on-base percentage is second-best in baseball.

Herrera's big home run helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola and the Phillies on a day when they really needed a win. After all, they had lost four of their previous five and are headed into the den of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday.

“For me, it was a must-win,” said manager Pete Mackanin, whose club is 26-21. “We’d lost four of five and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win.

“The guys battled the whole game. To me it looked like they played like they had to win this game, which was nice to see. It looked like they played knowing we had to win. They were grinding and coming up with hits. Call it what you want, it was just the feeling I got.

“I’m not going to say I’m anxious to see the Cubs; they’re a hell of a team. But I’m hopeful we can take two out of three.”

The Tigers are one of baseball’s best hitting teams.

The Phillies are one of the worst. They entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game.

But on this day, the Phillies out-hit the Tigers, 12-10, to salvage one game in the series.

Nola went six innings, allowed four runs, a walk and struck out six. He left with a 7-4 lead. Things got hairy in the seventh, but Hector Neris cleaned up things for David Hernandez, and Jeanmar Gomez registered his majors-leading 17th save.

In between, Peter Bourjos had a couple of big hits, including his first homer of the season. Andres Blanco started at second over Cesar Hernandez and had a couple of big hits, as well. Bourjos and Blanco even hooked up on a double steal with Blanco becoming the first Phillie to swipe home since Chase Utley in 2009. (An off-line throw to second by Tigers catcher James McCann helped.) 

“We have to try things,” Mackanin said. “We can’t bang it out with most teams so we have to try that kind of stuff, take chances.”

The Phillies actually banged it on this day.

Bourjos’ homer in the seventh provided some valuable cushion.

There are no cheap homers in spacious Comerica Park. Bourjos’ homer traveled 401 feet according to ESPN’s play by play.

Though Bourjos claimed he did not see Herrera’s bat flip in fifth inning, he was aware of it. For the record, Bourjos did not flip his bat on his homer. He put his head down and ran.

“I don’t have that kind of swag,” he said with a laugh.

Bat flips make some folks, particularly old-schoolers, uncomfortable. Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the playoffs last season led to simmering tensions all winter and eventually a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago.

Mackanin actually seemed a little uncomfortable talking about Herrera’s flip.

“I did not see it,” Mackanin said. “A lot of players believe that they should be able to celebrate. But I didn’t see it. I wish you never brought it up.”

Herrera explained that he always flips his bat, even when he makes outs. This one had a little extra oomph, he said, because, "I didn’t expect to hit it that far.”

And how far did he hit it?

Well, ESPN’s play by play said it traveled 409 feet. MLB’s Statcast said it went 427.

Either way, that’s a long Uber ride.

Herrera was asked what was more impressive, the flip or the homer?

“Both,” he said with a laugh.

Herrera has become a more demonstrative player in his second year in the league. He’s letting his emotions show. On Monday night, frustration over a poor at-bat got the best of him. He did not run out a ball back to the pitcher and was benched.

On Wednesday, his emotion was more triumphant, hence the bat flip. But sometimes that can make an opponent angry. There were no repercussions Wednesday and probably won’t be because the Tigers and Phillies don’t see each other again this season. But down the road?

“I’m not worried,” Mackanin said.

“It was nothing personal,” Herrera said. “It was natural.”

Maikel Franco says ankle injury is mild, vows to play Friday


Maikel Franco says ankle injury is mild, vows to play Friday

DETROIT — The Phillies have an off day Thursday.
It will come in handy for Maikel Franco.
The third baseman suffered what was termed a sprained right ankle while sliding into second base in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday. He hobbled off the field before the start of the bottom of the inning.
After the game, both Franco and manager Pete Mackanin stressed that the sprain was mild.
Franco received treatment after coming out of the game and he will again on the off day. Mackanin said he would exercise caution in determining Franco’s availability for Friday afternoon, but did not rule out playing Franco.
Franco was adamant. He’s playing.
“It’s a little bit sore, but it’s fine,” he said. “It already feels better. I’ll be ready for Friday. With the day off, I know I’ll be OK.”
If Franco can’t play, Mackanin would insert super-sub Andres Blanco into the lineup. He had two hits, including an RBI double, and scored two runs in Wednesday’s win over the Tigers (see Instant Replay).
Franco had a pair of singles and is 7 for 15 in his last four games.