Tuesday, October 13, 2015

AL Teams Tie, NL Teams Take The Lead

Monday was once again a full slate of games with both AL series going to a decisive game 5 while the Cubs and Mets taking a one game advantage heading into Tuesday. It was a homer happy day with few pitchers going unscathed as the four series combined for a new single day record for postseason long balls. Now the question is… who will clench the first spot in the championship series?

Royals Down Astros 9-6

The Royals pulled off a stunning comeback on Monday afternoon, charging from four runs down by scoring five times in the eighth inning to shock the Astros, 9-6, and even the best-of-five American League Division Series at two games apiece. Minute Maid Park was rocking after Houston scored three times in the seventh to take a 6-2 lead on a two-run homer by rookie shortstop Carlos Correa -- his second of the game -- and a solo shot by Colby Rasmus. Things changed quickly. In a comeback reminiscent of the Royals' dramatic win over the A's in last year's AL Wild Card Game, Kansas City began the eighth with four consecutive singles off reliever Will Harris, and all four scored. After Tony Sipp replaced Harris, the Royals tied the game at 6 when a grounder off the bat of Kendrys Morales skipped off the mound and glanced off the glove of Correa, allowing a pair to score, for an error. Alex Gordon's bases-loaded groundout to second base pushed the go-ahead run across.

Blue Jays Beat Rangers 8-4

The Blue Jays flexed their league-leading home run power with three long balls off Rangers starter Derek Holland in Game 4 on the way to forcing a winner-take-all Game 5 in the American League Division Series with an 8-4 victory on Monday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington. David Price was a candidate to start Game 5, but he picked up the victory on Monday with three innings of three-run relief behind Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey. It was Price's second postseason win of his career and his first since the 2008 AL Championship Series, while he was with the Rays. That win also was in relief.

Cubs Crush Cardinals 8-6

Jake Arrieta didn't have his Superman stuff, so the Cubs instead put on a power show Monday night as rookies Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber hit half of Chicago's six home runs to post an 8-6 victory over the Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. The Cubs became the first team to ever hit six home runs in a postseason game, with six players combining to accomplish the feat. Jason Heyward and Stephen Piscotty each connected for the Cardinals, and the eight total home runs set a Major League mark for one postseason game. Besides the three Cubs kids, Starlin Castro, Rizzo and Dexter Fowler joined in the fun with solo shots. This was the Cubs' first postseason win at Wrigley Field since Game 2 of the 2003 NL Championship Series against the Marlins. If they do win the NLDS on Tuesday, it would be the first time ever that the Cubs have won a postseason series at Wrigley. Imagine the party.

Mets Mash Dodgers 13-7

Nine long years of waiting at an end, they began streaming down from the 7 train platform hours before gametime, wearing jerseys and caps and holding brightly lettered signs, chanting and shouting and ready to explode. Mets fans had waited nearly a decade for a home playoff game, not to mention seven seasons for one at Citi Field. They found it to be well worth the wait. Curtis Granderson drove home five runs on a pair of doubles, Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d'Arnaud homered and the Mets, despite an imperfect outing from Matt Harvey, waltzed to a 13-7 victory over the Dodgers Monday night in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.


American League Division Series
Kansas City and Houston tied 2-2
Game 5: Wednesday, October 14, at 8:00 PM

Toronto and Texas tied 2-2
Game 5: Wednesday, October 14, at 4:00 PM

National League Division Series
Chicago leads series 2-1
Game 4: Tuesday, October 13, at 4:30 PM

New York leads series 2-1
Game 4: Tuesday, October 13, at 8:00 PM


Prepping For #1 – Johnny Almaraz has been everywhere, and he will continue to be everywhere for the next eight months. The Phillies have the No. 1 pick in the 2016 Draft, so Almaraz, who is the Phillies' amateur scouting director, and his entire staff will be crisscrossing the country to scout the top amateur players countless times up until June. In fact, they already have. "Heading into the year we've been anticipating we'd pick pretty high, so we've been on the go," Almaraz said, recently. "We're very, very optimistic and very positive about this year's crop. We're fortunate to have the No. 1 pick in a really good year." There is no consensus No. 1 pick in next year's Draft. There is no Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper. There is no no-brainer, but there are some talented pitchers. And if there are no significant injuries or surprises, expect the Phillies to take one. Keep a close eye on Florida left-hander A.J. Puk and Oklahoma right-hander Alec Hansen. Some scouts think Puk could be in the big leagues as early as 2017, and Hansen has tons of potential. The Phillies also will look at arguably the top two high school pitchers: IMG Academy (Lakeland, Fla.) left-hander Jason Groome and St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.) right-hander Riley Pint. "Fortunately, this year there is a really strong college crop of pitching," Almaraz said. "It's one of those situations where I believe this year the pitching is stronger than the crop of position players. We'll be looking at that, and hopefully we can get the guys that we want. You never know what is going to happen as far as health is concerned. We have to make sure we stay on top of things." This is the first time the Phillies will have the top pick in the Draft since 1998, when they selected Pat Burrell. Whomever the Phillies select, they should get somebody that can speed up their rebuilding process. Since Burrell's selection, only a handful of No. 1 picks have not panned out (Bryan Bullington, Matt Bush, Luke Hochevar and Tim Beckham). Most have, like Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Mauer, Justin Upton, David Price, Strasburg, Harper, Gerrit Cole and Carlos Correa. "There's a group of players all over the country who can separate themselves in comparison to everybody else," Almaraz said. "It's just a matter of time. We're not even a year away, but a lot of things can happen as far as progress and growth and strength, and players becoming a lot better than they were in the past year." Another benefit of the Phillies getting the No. 1 pick is more money in their draft pool. That could allow them to sign some players they might not have had the ability to sign. "Yes, we're going to be as creative as we can be to get the best talent," Almaraz said. "Of course, we're going to be picking first in every single round, so we'll have an advantage to make an impact as far as talent is concerned. We'll be prepared. We'll be prepared to make the best decisions, and to use that money effectively. It'll be very, very interesting."

Phillies Well Represented In AFL – Baseball's annual preview of coming attractions, better known as the Arizona Fall League, raised the curtain on its 24th season Tuesday. Play began with the Mesa Solar Sox visiting the Glendale Desert Dogs and the Peoria Javelinas hosting the Surprise Saguaros. Glendale features the highest-rated prospect in the league, Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford (No. 5 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 list), and Minor League home run leader A.J. Reed (Astros). Mesa counters with a top shortstop prospect of its own in Daniel Robertson (Rays), who batted .301 for the Solar Sox last fall. Surprise's lineup is powered by outfielders Brett Phillips (Brewers) and Lewis Brinson (Rangers). Peoria boasts a pair of former first-round picks in shortstop Alex Blandino (Cardinals) and corner infielder D.J. Peterson (Mariners). The first night game of the season featured the Scottsdale Scorpions at the crosstown Salt River Rafters, the AFL's defending champions. Salt River has one of the deepest lineups in the league, led by two Mets first-round picks, shortstop Gavin Cecchini and first baseman Dominic Smith. Scottsdale's headliner is Indians outfielder Clint Frazier, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 Draft. The AFL's lone Top 100 pitching prospect, right-hander Alex Reyes (Cardinals), will take the mound on Thursday for the Saguaros. The best left-handers, Sean Manaea (Athletics) of the Solar Sox and Kyle Freeland (Rockies) of the Rafters, will make their first starts on Wednesday. This type of talent is typical for the league, which has sent roughly 2,500 players to the big leagues, including Derek Jeter, Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Max Scherzer and Mike Trout. The AFL has spawned 231 All-Stars (including 42 from this summer's game alone), 25 Rookies of the Year, 14 MVPs and five Cy Young Award winners. Several members of this year's historic rookie class played in the AFL, including the last two league MVPs, Kris Bryant and Greg Bird, as well as Francisco Lindor, Joc Pederson and Addison Russell. Each of MLB's 30 organizations sends at least a half-dozen prospects to Arizona, where they'll play six games per week in a regular-season schedule that runs through Nov. 19. The two division leaders will meet Nov. 21 in a one-game championship that will be broadcast live on MLB Network. MLBN also will broadcast the Fall Stars Game on Nov. 7, a Military Appreciation Game between Salt River and Surprise on Nov. 14, and other regular-season games to be announced. Besides giving prospects six more weeks of at-bats and innings to hone their skills, the AFL also provides an opportunity to make up for time lost to injury. Reyes missed a month at midseason with minor shoulder soreness and totaled 101 1/3 innings. Manaea lost the first half to abdominal and groin strains and worked just 74 1/3 frames this season, while Freeland pitched just 46 2/3 amid battling bone chips in his elbow and shoulder fatigue. Among position players, Robertson was limited to 82 games by a broken hamate bone in his left hand. Peterson played in just 97 contests and saw his season end on Aug. 1 with an Achilles strain. Another former first-rounder, Mesa first baseman Casey Gillaspie (Rays), was held to 79 games after he injured his left wrist on a swing. Even big leaguers use the AFL on their way back from injuries. Surprise infielder Jurickson Profar (Rangers), who once ranked as the best prospect in the Minors, missed all of 2014 and appeared in just 12 games (none above low Class A) this year after he tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder. Peoria left-hander James Paxton made only 13 starts for the Mariners while dealing with a strained tendon and torn fingernail. Eleven players from MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list are on AFL rosters. Glendale (Crawford, Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows, Reed), Salt River (Cecchini, Smith, Rockies outfielder Raimel Tapia) and Surprise (Reyes, Phillips, Brinson) lead the way with three each.

The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances this season, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 1-0-0 on this day.

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