Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Blue Jays Bats Bounce Back

In one of the biggest slugfests of the post season, the Blue Jays bats prevailed pulling them within one game of the Royals in the ALCS. Of course, it helps that Johnny Cueto returned to his post trade mediocrity. And we can only wonder what the game would have been like had the umpire focused on the job at hand rather than throwing a hissy fit toward the end of the game. I am curious to see if the power display will continue in game 4 or if the bats will once again slumber amidst their indulgent hangover.  

Blue Jays Blast Royals 11-8

The Blue Jays showed once again why they should never be written off in the postseason, as the league's top offense erupted in an 11-8 victory over the Royals in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday night at Rogers Centre. Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson and Ryan Goins each homered as Toronto cut its deficit in the best-of-seven ALCS series to 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for this afternoon. It was the third time in Blue Jays history they scored at least 10 runs in a postseason game. "We desperately needed that breakout," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You look at how the game finished up, those runs really came in handy. It wasn't an easy game, even though we had a big lead." The Royals' loss snapped their nine-game ALCS winning streak. The record is 10, held by the Orioles, who had three straight 3-0 sweeps in 1969, '70 and '71 and won Game 1 of the '73 ALCS, when it was a best-of-five series. Toronto is the fifth team to face a pair of 2-0 deficits in the same postseason, and two of the previous four came back to win both (1981 Dodgers, National League Division Series, World Series; and the 1985 Royals, ALCS, World Series). Tulowitzki led the way for the Blue Jays with a 2-for-4 night that included the home run and three RBIs, but he was ejected by home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck as the team warmed up for the top of the eighth for arguing a called third strike the last half-inning. Goins, whose memorable seventh-inning mishap jump-started Kansas City's game-turning rally in Toronto's Game 2 loss Saturday, redeemed himself with two hits, three RBIs and some slick defense. Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion also had two hits, and every member of the Blue Jays' starting lineup reached base at least once. It was the highest offensive output during the postseason for Toronto, which scored in double digits a franchise-record 26 times this season. Kansas City's Johnny Cueto had a chance to give his team a commanding lead in the series, but instead he became the first starting pitcher in postseason history to allow eight or more runs while recording six outs or fewer. He pitched a scoreless first inning, but the right-hander surrendered three in the second and then was not able to record an out in the third. Cueto allowed six hits and walked four with two strikeouts in the sixth start of his postseason career. "The mound in the bullpen was higher than the real one," Cueto said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "And I couldn't get my pitches down. It's no excuse. They just beat me." Right-hander Marcus Stroman picked up the win for the Blue Jays, even though he wasn't in top form. Stroman surrendered a lot of hard contact early, but he survived one run in the first and another run in the third before Toronto's offense gave him some breathing room. The 24-year-old induced 48 swings, but only three were of the swing-and-miss variety. He was charged with four runs on 11 hits and one walk over 6 1/3 innings before handing things over to the bullpen. Kansas City rallied for four runs in the ninth inning, but it was too little, too late. Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer, while Lorenzo Cain added a sacrifice fly and Eric Hosmer had an RBI single. Prior to the ninth, the Royals went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight men on base. "It shows you that we never quit," Hosmer said. "But it was just too big a hole. We know our pitchers won't have another game like that, so we're fine. It's 2-1, and we'll come back tomorrow."


National League Championship Series
New York leads series 2-0
Game 3: Tuesday, October 20, at 8:00 PM

American League Championship Series
Kansas City leads series 2-1
Game 4: Tuesday, October 20, at 4:00 PM


Phillies Cut Four – Domonic Brown's time with the Phillies is up. The Phillies outrighted Brown from their 40-man roster on Monday, effectively ending his nine-year career with the organization. Brown, 28, made the 2013 National League All-Star team, three years after he had been considered one of the top prospects in baseball, but he had struggled since. Brown had a .650 OPS from the 2013 All-Star break through this season, which ranked 289th out of 339 qualified hitters in baseball, and 16th lowest among 133 outfielders. That, combined with the emergence of other outfielders in the system and his second year of salary-arbitration eligibility, made his departure a certainty. Brown has the right to decline an assignment to the Minor Leagues and become a free agent, which is expected. "It just didn't work out," Phillies interim general manager Scott Proefrock said. "We've decided we've got players who deserve the playing time more than Domonic does." The Phillies also outrighted prospects Tommy Joseph and Kelly Dugan and outfielder Brian Bogusevic. The Phillies acquired Joseph in July 2012 from the Giants in the Hunter Pence trade, but concussions derailed a promising catching career. Joseph, who remains under the Phillies' control next season, moved to first base this year, and the Phillies remain hopeful he can produce enough offensively to become an option at first base in the future. "There's an opportunity here, if he can swing the bat and play the position," Proefrock said. "We don't really have a first baseman at the upper levels." Dugan, the Phillies' top pick in the 2009 Draft, had been saddled with injuries and was passed on the depth chart by other outfielders. He can become a Minor League free agent five days after the World Series. Bogusevic, like Brown, can immediately become a free agent. Brown's exodus is the most notable of the Phillies' latest roster purge. Just a few years ago, the Phillies believed they had a superstar in the making in the 20th-round selection in the 2006 Draft. But other than a strong first half in 2013, Brown never lived up to the hype. He was ranked No. 4 among all prospects in 2011. Two of the three players ranked ahead of him were the Angels' Mike Trout (No. 1) and the Nationals' Bryce Harper (No. 3). Monday's announcement follows another two weeks ago when they outrighted right-hander Justin De Fratus, infielder Chase d'Arnaud, outfielder Jordan Danks, catcher Erik Kratz and left-handers Adam Loewen and Ken Roberts. Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone also was outrighted after being activated from the 60-day disabled list.

The Search Continues – Phillies president Andy MacPhail is keeping quiet about his search for the Phillies' next general manager, but he is making progress. MacPhail has said it would be ambitious to hire somebody before the Phillies' organizational meetings, which begin next Monday, but the idea that an announcement could come next week should not be dismissed. Sources have told MLB.com that the Phillies have interviewed the following candidates: Angels assistant general manager Matt Klentak, Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo, Cardinals director of player personnel Matt Slater and former Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest. CBSSports.com reported Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins also has interviewed. It is likely MacPhail has interviewed others. MLB.com identified Klentak in June as a favorite to replace former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., when reports first surfaced about MacPhail's arrival. MacPhail hired Klentak as director of baseball operations in Baltimore in March 2008, making him one of the youngest executives in baseball. Klentak worked with MacPhail in scouting, player development, contract negotiations and the construction of the 40-man roster. Klentak also handled much of the Angels' heavy lifting when Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels GM on July 1. Klentak, 34, graduated from Dartmouth with an economics degree in 2002. There have been reports Picollo is the front runner, although an ESPN.com report Monday disputed that. Picollo has played a role in the Royals' resurgence as one of the top teams in the American League, despite working with a small-market payroll. The Royals won the AL pennant in 2014, and entering Monday, they need two more victories in this year's AL Championship Series to play in their second consecutive World Series. Picollo also grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., which means he has more than cursory knowledge of the Philadelphia area, its fans and media. Despite reports, sources have said that MLB vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng and former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington are not among MacPhail's top list of candidates.

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 tis season, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, there are some former Phillies still making headlines in the playoffs this year.

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