Tag Archives: Max Muncy

Dodgers NL MVP candidate Cody Bellinger leads baseball’s top team into Philly

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Leading NL MVP candidate Cody Bellinger leads LA into Philly

The Philadelphia Phillies (48-45) welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers (62-33) to South Philly for a four game series this week at Citizens Bank Park.

For the visiting Dodgers, this will be a chance to continue to re-establish their dominance. After suffering through their first four-game losing streak since mid-April, the Dodgers exploded for 18 runs to capture their last two against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Dodgers come to Philly with the third-highest runs per game average (5.25) in the National League. Also, their pitching staff has the lowest ERA and batting average against in the league.
Those numbers highlight the reasons that the Dodgers have romped to a 14.5 game lead in the NL West Division as they try to win a seventh consecutive division crown. In addition, the Dodgers have the best overall record in the National League, sitting four games clear of the Atlanta Braves in the loss column.
These two teams met at Dodger Stadium at the end of May while both were in first place. The Dodgers swept out the Phillies, outscoring them 18-6 to begin the Phillies slide in the standings. With this series at home, the Phillies will try to reverse both that previous outcome and their own season fortunes.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Cody Bellinger: RF (23) – .334/.431/.687, 31 HR, 52 extra-base hits, 73 RBIs, 72 runs, 8 steals. Leading NL MVP contender.
Max Muncy: 1B (28) – .264/.365/.528, 23 HR, 37 extra-base hits, 62 RBIs, 58 runs
Joc Pederson: LF (27) – .238/.333/.517, 20 HR, 30 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, 49 runs
Alex Verdugo: CF (23) – .307/.355/.498, 10 HR, 32 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs, 35 runs
Corey Seager: SS (25) – .266/.345/.448, 8 HR, 29 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 40 runs
David Freese (36)/Justin Turner (34): 3B – 19 HR, 48 extra-base hits, 61 RBIs, 80 runs

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

A.J. Pollock: The 31-year-old Pollock signed with the Dodgers as a free agent back in January. Los Angeles lured the center fielder away from the division-rival Arizona Diamondbacks, with whom Pollock had played since being selected at 17th overall in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, with a four-year, $55 million deal that also includes a $10 million player option for the 2023 season.
Pollock was a 2015 NL All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner who was seen as one of the most consistent players in the game. The Dodgers saw him as just that – a consistent presence to man the middle of their outfield for the next few seasons as they tried to push through from NL champions to world champions.
Things did not begin well. After he had slashed just .223/.287/.330 with six extra-base hits over his first 28 games (26 starts), it was announced that Pollock was injured, suffering from an elbow infection. Pollock had a metal plate in his elbow, inserted in a previous surgery. That plate would need to be removed, and Pollock would end up on the IL right through the MLB All-Star Game last week.
Activated for this past weekend, Pollock returned to deliver a half-dozen hits against the Boston Red Sox, capped by a three-hit night in Sunday’s nationally televised extra-inning victory. The Dodgers defense has been the one suspect area for the team in this big season for the club. With the return of Pollock, the outfield defense should begin to stabilize.
Just what the Phillies need to face this week, the best team in the National League actually putting more talent on the field and improving their overall play.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

MONDAY – Clayton Kershaw: 7-2, 3.09 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.051 WHIP, 88 hits over 99 IP across 15 starts with a 91/16 K:BB
TUESDAY – Walker Buehler: 8-1, 3.46 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 0.990 WHIP, 89 hits over 104 IP across 17 starts with a 113/14 K:BB
WEDNESDAY – Kenta Maeda: 7-6, 3.82 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 1.056 WHIP, 75 hits over 101.1 IP in 18 starts with a 101/32 K:BB
THURSDAY – Ross Stripling: 4-3 , 3.65 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.230 WHIP, 63 hits over 66.2 IP across 24 games (10 starts) with a 69/19 K:BB

THE SKIPPER

Dave Roberts is now in his fourth season at the helm of the Dodgers. He guided the team to an NL West crown in each of this first three seasons, and is well on his way to a fourth straight. The Dodgers have also won back-to-back National League pennants under Roberts guidance.
The only thing missing from Roberts managerial resume is a World Series championship. The Dodgers have not won one since Kirk Gibson‘s miracle home run and Orel Hershiser‘s dominating pitching led the 1988 team to a world title. They lost in seven games to the Houston Astros in 2017 (Gabe Kapler was the Dodgers farm director then) and to Boston Red Sox in five games last year.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

The first three nights of this series are going to be very similar. Temps in the low-90’s during the day, playing temps in the mid-upper 80’s. Moderate humidity, light winds, almost no chance of precipitation. Typically beautiful summer nights. For the series finale on Thursday afternoon there will be at least a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms as the leftover residue from Hurricane Barry flows into the area. Otherwise the conditions will be similar to the prior three days.

Dodgers power past Phillies by 6-3 on Friday night at Chavez Ravine

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Joc Pederson helped lead host LA past the Phils on Friday night

The Los Angeles Dodgers (39-19) showed the Philadelphia Phillies (33-24) why the National League pennant has gone through the six-time NL West champions in each of the last two seasons, and why it likely will once again in 2019, putting a 6-3 thumping on the visitors on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

In front of 54,307 fans, the largest crowd to see a game at Chavez Ravine since 2012, the Dodgers ripped Phillies starter Jake Arrieta for 10 hits and three home runs. Two of those longballs came in the home 5th inning, when the Dodgers scored three times to break open a tie ball game.
The scoring got started in the bottom of the 3rd inning when Joc Pederson led off with a base hit, which was followed immediately by a two-run homer off the bat of Max Muncy.
The Phillies answered in the top of the 4th when Andrew McCutchen took Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda out to dead center field. His 10th home run of the season cut the deficit to just a 2-1 margin.
In the top of the 5th, Arrieta got himself even. With runners at second and third and two out, the Phillies pitcher lined a base hit to left, scoring Cesar Hernandez with the run that temporarily tied the game back up at 2-2.
It was then that the Dodgers did their heaviest damage. Pederson led off the bottom of the 5th by lifting his 17th home run over the right field fence. Muncy followed with a single, and then shortstop Corey Seager blasted a two-run homer to right, upping the LA lead to a 5-2 score.
Not throwing great pitches when I’m trying to go inside deep,” Arrieta said per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia after the game. “I’m just leaving them over too much of the plate, really. That’s it. I can get lefties out. You can’t miss middle-in with spin to power-hitting left-handed hitters. You just can’t do it. That’s what I did too many times tonight.
In the bottom of the 8th, Enrique Hernandez popped his 9th home run of the season out to left field, pushing the Dodgers in front by 6-2. The Phillies would get one back in the top of the 9th when Scott Kingery singled home Rhys Hoskins. But closer Kenley Jansen came on to over-match pinch-hitter Andrew Knapp, striking him out to end the ball game.
If the Phillies want to have even a shot at winning this series they are going to have to find a way to beat future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night. To make matters even worse, the Phillies do not have a named starter for that tilt, and could well go with a bullpen game or an opener followed by, well, who knows?

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

  • Jake Arrieta: 5 IP, 10 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts. Threw 97 pitches, 63 for strikes.
  • Kenta Maeda: 6 IP, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts. Threw 88 pitches, 57 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: JOC PEDERSON

This could have gone to either Pederson or Muncy. The pick was Pederson since his base hit started the 3rd inning, and then his leadoff homer in the bottom of the 5th immediately put the Dodgers back on top after the Phillies had tied it back up. Pederson went 2-4 with two runs scored and the home run on the night.

TICKET IQ NEXT GAME


Phillies and Dodgers clash this weekend as the NL’s top two ball clubs

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Dodger Stadium hosts top two teams in the NL this weekend

The Los Angeles Dodgers (38-19) are the two-time defending National League champions and have captured six consecutive NL West Division crowns. They are once again riding high atop the division as we enter the month of June.

This weekend at Dodger Stadium, these two teams will meet for the first of two times this season. They will meet again in a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park just after the MLB All-Star Game in mid-July. The Phillies and Dodgers are the top two teams in the National League to this point in the season, but they have reached that status in very different manners.
The Phillies have been inconsistent in nearly every facet of the game statistically. They are out-performing those stats, fashioning their winning record and frustrating their fans by looking awful in one game and then like world-beaters in the other two games pf most every series.
Meanwhile out in LA-LA Land, the Dodgers have been truly dominating. Offensively, they lead the league in runs scored, OPS and walks, are third in home runs, and are second in stolen-base percentage.
On the mound, Dodgers pitchers have the lowest cumulative ERA in the NL. They lead the league in batting average against, Quality Starts, and OPS against while allowing the fewest walks in the league. The club is also among the more solid defensive units in the league.
The Phillies have gone 20-11 over the last month, and have won nine of their last 13 despite dropping the series finale to Saint Louis on Thursday. During what is arguably the toughest 23-game portion of their 2019 regular season schedule, the Phillies are now 10-7. That stretch comes to an end with this west coast trip to Los Angeles and San Diego over the next six days.
This will be a major test for the Phillies, a chance to measure themselves against the very best in the National League on the road. Even winning one of three games this weekend could be considered a victory. But the Phillies want more than that. They have taken and held first place by winning series, and that will be the goal once again.
There is a tremendous history between these two clubs. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies in the 1977 and 1978 National League Championship Series, the first of those including what has become known as “Black Friday” in Phillies lore, one of the toughest defeats in team history. The Phillies responded by dumping the Dodgers in the 2008 and 2009 NLCS.
And then there was the infamous 1988 battle at Veteran’s Stadium between Dodgers then-skipper Tommy LaSorda and the Phillie Phanatic:

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Cody Bellinger: The early-line favorite for the National League Most Valuable Player Award, Bellinger has accumulated quite the highlight reel over the season’s first two months at the plate and in the field. He is slashing .377/.464/.754 with 20 homers, 52 RBIs, 50 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. Formerly the starting first baseman, Bellinger was flipped out to right field in early May. Perhaps some good news for the Phillies? Bellinger is hitting just .250 over his last 10 games. However, he has four homers, seven extra-base hits, and 10 RBIs in that time, so his bat has remained impactful.
Justin Turner: Now in his 11th big-league season, the 34-year-old with the fiery red hair who has finished among the top 15 in NL MVP voting for three straight years is enjoying another solid season. The third baseman has been hot over his last nine games, slashing .359/.405/.513 with nine runs scored.
Joc Pederson: A 27-year-old lefty bat and left fielder, Pederson is another of the hot Dodgers bats. He is slashing .483/.559/.862 over his last nine games with six extra-base hits, seven RBIs, and nine runs scored in that stretch. Having banged 11 of his 16 home runs at home, Pederson will be a major challenge to Phillies pitching this weekend.
Max Muncy: Another of the big Dodgers left-handed bats, the 28-year-old Muncy has mostly started at first base but will also be used at both second and third base at times. His 33 RBIs are second on the club, while his 11 homers and 21 extra-base hits are third. Like a number of the others described here, Muncy has been hot. Over the past two weeks he is slashing .296/.387/.574 with nine extra-base hits and 14 runs scored over his last 14 games.
Alex Verdugo: You guessed it, the 23-year-old Verdugo is yet another big left-handed stick in the Dodgers lineup. With the injury to A.J. Pollock, Verdugo has taken over as the starting center fielder, his first chance to get into the everyday lineup on a full-time basis now in his third season. He is slashing .322/.376/.521 on the season and his RBI per plate appearances mark is second in the starting lineup.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Hyun-Jin Ryu: the Phillies are not scheduled to see Ryu in this series, which is probably the one piece of good news when considering all of the Dodgers stars. The 32-year-old southpaw from South Korea is enjoying his best big-league season after missing half of 2018 with a lingering groin injury. Ryu is 8-1 with a 1.48 ERA and 284 ERA+, both of which lead all of Major League Baseball. His 0.808 WHIP leads the National League, and he has allowed just 54 hits over 73 innings across 11 starts with a 69/5 K:BB ratio.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

Kenta Maeda (31): Friday – RHP, 6-2, 3.67 ERA, 1.172 WHIP, 46 hits over 56.1 IP across 10 starts with a 56/20 K:BB
Clayton Kershaw (31): Saturday – LHP, 5-0, 3.46 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 47 hits over 52 IP across eight starts with a 49/9 K:BB
Rich Hill (39): Sunday – LHP, 1-1, 2.73 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 30 hits over 33 IP across six starts with a 37/6 K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECESD

Chris Taylor: 2B/SS/OF – .237/.305/.410, four homers, 19 RBIs, 14 extra-base hits over 155 plate appearances
David Freese: 1B/3B – .269/.412/.500, four homers, 14 RBIs, 10 extra-base hits over 97 plate appearances
Russell Martin: C – .246/.363/.369, four extra-base hits including two homers over 80 plate appearances. The 14-year veteran and rookie Will Smith will split time behind the plate in this series with starting catcher Austin Barnes on the IL.

THE SKIPPER

Dave Roberts is in his fourth season as the Dodgers manager. He guided the club to the NL West crown in his first three seasons, and to the National League pennant and a World Series berth in both of the last two years. He has a career 325-219 record as skipper with LA following on a 10-year career as a player with five different teams. Roberts played with the Dodgers from 2002-04.
He is famed for a stolen base in the 2004 ALCS while with the Red Sox that sparked Boston to a rally from down 3-0 in the series to the Yankees. Boston would rally to win that series in seven games, then would break the 86-year ‘Curse of the Bambino‘ to win their first World Series. Roberts’ steal is now legendary in Boston.

THE BALLPARK

Dodger Stadium is also known in some circles by the nickname “Chavez Ravine” after the 352-acre location in which it was constructed. Opened for the 1962 season, it became the Dodgers second home after the franchise moved west from Brooklyn following the 1957 campaign. The Dodgers played their first four years on the west coast at the Los Angeles Memorial Colisseum.
The beautiful ballpark is now the oldest in Major League Baseball west of the Mississippi River, and third-oldest in MLB behind only Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston. It is also the largest baseball stadium in the world by seating capacity, capable of fitting 56,000 fans on an official basis. The record attendance is 57,099 for the 2009 season opener.
Dodger Stadium’s outfield fence is 400-feet to dead-center field, 330-feet down the lines in both right and left fields, and 375-feet to both right and left-center field.
Little known fact: the entire Palo Verde elementary school was simply buried beneath the parking lot northwest of third base when the ballpark and parking lots were constructed.

LOS ANGELES SERIES WEATHER REPORT

As usual with LA, there is a near-zero percent chance of any rain during this three-game series. The high temps are forecast to be right around 70 degrees, overnight lows in the upper-50’s. Temps will be in the 60’s for the bulk of all three games with light winds and moderate humidity. Bottom line: if you chose to make the trip to Los Angeles for any or all of these games, you will experience perfect baseball weather.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Phillies series opposition preview: Los Angeles Dodgers”

A look at the 10 dramatic Philadelphia Phillies postseason extra-innings games

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Maddox was in the middle of the action during  the decisive1980 NLCS Game Five

The Los Angeles Dodgers season was on the brink as Game 3 of the 2018 World Series staggered into the bottom of the 18th inning at Dodgers Stadium. The Boston Red Sox had a 2-0 lead and would take a nearly insurmountable 3-0 stranglehold on the series with a victory.

The Dodgers were rescued when Max Muncy lofted a lead-off, walk-off, opposite-field home run to give Los Angeles a 3-2 win, pulling them back from the precipice and cutting Boston’s lead in the Fall Classic to a 2-1 margin.
In the 136-year history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise the club has reached postseason play on 13 occasions. They have been involved in 103 games across 22 different series during those playoff appearances.
Just ten of those games reached extra-innings. The Phillies have an even 5-5 split result. While none lasted nearly as long as last night’s marathon, each held its own drama and importance, and revealed its own heroes and scapegoats.
Let’s take a quick look back at each of those five Philadelphia Phillies extra-inning postseason victories and defeats.

1950 WORLD SERIES – GAME TWO

The Phillies were swept by the powerful New York Yankees in four straight games in this Fall Classic. But the young ‘Whiz Kids’ didn’t go down without a fight. They battled the Bronx Bombers evenly during the first three games, losing each by a single run.
After the Yankees had taken the opener by a 1-0 score, Game 2 of the 1950 World Series would again be held at what was still in those days known as Shibe Park. The Yanks went up early when Gene Woodling‘s ground single off Robin Roberts scored Jerry Coleman in the top of the second inning.
Mike Goliat left off the home 5th with a single off Yankees pitcher Allie Reynolds. He rolled around to third base on a one-out base hit by Eddie Waitkus, and then raced home with the tying run on a sac fly to left from Richie Ashburn.
Roberts and Reynolds would battle into the 10th inning, both pitchers going the distance in what is a complete antithesis to today’s game. In the top of the 10th, Joe DiMaggio crushed a lead-off home run out deep to left field for what would prove to be the game-winner.

1978 NLCS – GAME FOUR

The Phillies had tied the franchise record by winning 101 regular season games for a second straight season. And for a second straight year they would meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers had taken the series the previous year by breaking the hearts of Phillies fans on what has become known as ‘Black Friday’ in team lore. Now a year later, LA appeared on the verge of doing it again, taking the first two games.
The Phillies fought back to win Game 3 on the road. And now Game 4 of the 1978 NLCS went to extra-innings with the Phillies looking to tie it up, and the Dodgers looking to advance to a second-straight World Series.
Trailing 3-2 with two outs in the top of the 7th, Bake McBride had blasted a home run off Rick Rhoden to tie it up and force extras. In the bottom of the 10th, Tug McGraw retired the first to Dodger batters, but then walked Ron Cey.
The next batter, Dusty Baker, reached on an extremely rare error by Phillies center fielder Garry Maddox. Dodgers light-hitting shortstop Bill Russell then looped a first-pitch single cleanly to center, with Cey racing around to score the series-winning run.

1980 NLCS – GAMES TWO thru FIVE

For my money, the 1980 National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros remains the greatest NLCS in baseball history. After the Phillies won the opener 3-1, each of the final four games went to extra-innings.
In Game 2 of the 1980 NLCS at Veteran’s Stadium, Maddox’ single scored Lonnie Smith in the bottom of the 8th inning to send it to extras. The Phillies then had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the 9th, but the Astros Frank LaCorte wriggled out of the jam. Houston then scored four times in the top of the 10th and evened the series with a 7-4 victory.
In Game 3 of the 1980 NLCS at the Astrodome in Houston, Larry Christenson of the Phillies and Joe Niekro of the Astros dueled through shutout starts. In fact, Niekro lasted 10 innings. Joe Morgan led off the bottom of the 11th with a triple off McGraw.
After Phillies skipper Dallas Green ordered two intentional walks to load the bases, Denny Walling lifted a sac fly to score the game’s only run. The walkoff victory gave the host Astros a 2-1 lead and put them within one game of the first World Series appearance in franchise history. This remains the longest postseason game by innings in Phillies history.
Game 4 of the 1980 NLCS saw the Phillies trailing 2-0 with their season on the brink into the top of the 8th inning. But Verne Ruhle surrendered four straight singles to start the frame, and then a Manny Trillo double scored Pete Rose with the go-ahead run.
Houston battled back to tie it in the home 9th inning. Then in the top of the 10th, back-to-back two-out RBI doubles from Greg Luzinski and Trillo gave the Phillies a 5-3 win, tying the series at two games apiece and setting up the dramatic finale.
Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS is perhaps the most dramatic postseason game in Phillies history. It easily includes their greatest playoff comeback. For a second straight game, the Phillies season appeared to be ending as the game entered the top of the 8th inning, but this time it looked even more bleak.
Entering that top of the 8th, the Astros lead 5-2. Not only that, they had future Hall of Fame ace Nolan Ryan on the mound. But the Phillies somehow scratched out a pair of runs without hitting a ball out of the infield. Then huge hit from Del Unser tied it, and Trillo ripped a triple to left to put the Phillies incredibly ahead by 7-5.
This dramatic game and series were both far from over. Houston rallied back to score twice in the bottom of the 8th off McGraw to again tie it up, and the teams rolled into extra innings for a fourth straight game.
In the top of the 10th, Unser doubled with one out. Then with two outs, Maddox dropped an RBI hit to center field. Usually a starting pitcher, Dick Ruthven retired Houston in order for a second straight inning to finish it off and send the Phillies on to the World Series.

1980 WORLD SERIES – GAME THREE

The Phillies followed up that dramatic series with Houston by rallying for a pair of victories at The Vet in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. As the Fall Classic moved out to Royals Stadium for the first time ever, George Brett and the home squad were desperate for a victory.
Trailing 3-2 into the top of the 8th in Game 3 of the 1980 World Series, the Phillies once again showed their late-inning comeback resilience when Rose laced a two-out single to score Larry Bowa with the tying run.
The teams moved to the bottom of the 10th, and McGraw allowed the first two runners to reach base. He then battled back to retire the next two hitters, but following a steal and intentional walk, Willie Aikens base hit scored Willie Wilson with the walkoff game-winner.
The Royals would tie the series the next day, but the Phillies would ultimately capture their first-ever World Series crown in six games.

1981 NLDS – GAME FOUR

During a time when there was no such thing as a ‘Division Series’, a lengthy mid-season player’s strike resulted in Major League Baseball deciding to work under a split-season format with two half-seasons separated by the strike date.
The Phillies had the best record in the NL East at that point and were declared first-half division champs. The Montreal Expos took the second-half, and so the two teams would meet in a National League Division Series. The Dodgers and Astros were meeting in another such series, with the two winners slated for the NLCS.
The Expos shut the Phillies down in the first two games at Montreal, taking both by 3-1 scores. The Phillies offense finally awoke for a big 6-2 win in Game 3 back at Veteran’s Stadium. The Phillies needed to win to tie it up, while the Expos were looking to advance into the NLCS against the Dodgers.
The Phillies rushed to an early 4-0 lead in Game 4 of the 1981 NLDS, but Montreal scored in each inning from the 4th through the 7th, and the two teams battled into extra-innings tied at 5-5.
In the bottom of the 10th, Green sent young George Vukovich up to lead-off as a pinch-hitter for McGraw. Vukovich wasted no time becoming a postseason hero, ripping a walk-off homer over the right field wall. The Phillies had tied the series at 2-2, but Montreal would win it the following day when Steve Rogers out-dueled Steve Carlton.

1993 NLCS – GAMES ONE & FIVE

The 1993 ‘Macho Row’ squad went worst-to-first to win the NL East crown in an almost wire-to-wire performance that remains the single most fun Phillies season that I have witnessed in my 48 years following the team.
Waiting for them in the NLCS were the Atlanta Braves, who were then in the NL West Division. Atlanta had won 104 games that year and were seen by most as one of baseball’s up-and-coming teams. Despite winning their division, the Phillies were seen by many as a flaky fluke.
The Phillies sent a message in Game 1 of the 1993 NLCS at Veteran’s Stadium that they were no pushovers. After the Braves tied it by scoring an unearned run off Mitch Williams in the top of the 9th, the Phillies walked off to victory in the bottom of the 10th of the opener.
With one out in that 10th, John Kruk drilled a line drive double to right field off Greg McMichael. Next up was Kim Batiste, who had entered the game as a late defensive replacement for Dave Hollins at third base. Batiste ripped a two-strike, walk-off hit down the left field line to score Kruk with the game winner.
In Game 5 of the 1993 NLCS with the two teams tied at 2-2 in the series, the pivotal game entered extra-innings with someone looking to take the series lead.
With one out in the top of the 10th, Lenny Dykstra stepped in against Braves fireballer Mark Wohlers. On a 3-2 pitch, ‘The Dude’ blasted a go-ahead solo home run to put the Phillies on top. Larry Andersen came on to set Atlanta down in the bottom, and the Phillies had a 3-2 series lead headed back to The Vet. They would win the NL Pennant in the next game.
That blast from Dykstra highlighted what would prove to be the last Phillies extra-innings postseason game to this point. Despite reaching the playoffs in ever year from 2007 through 2011 and playing in more games during that stretch than all previous playoffs combined, the Phillies would not need extra frames again.
Losing the first four times, the Phillies have battled back to even their all-time franchise record at 5-5 in extra-innings playoff contests. When will we see the club back in the postseason? Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before we see bonus Phillies playoff baseball for the first time at Citizens Bank Park.

Off the DL and back on the mound, Phillies need Zach Eflin at 100%

Eflin off the DL, on the mound in Dodgers series opener
The Philadelphia Phillies open an intriguing three-game series on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Interest in this series comes from a number of angles for Phillies fans. For many, that starts with the return to South Philly for the final time in the regular season of Chase Utley.
The former World Series hero and future Phillies Wall of Famer has announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2018 season. He would only return again should the two teams meet in the postseason.
Another angle is the return of Manny Machado. The longtime Baltimore Orioles star was dealt to Los Angeles last week in exchange for a package of five minor league prospects.
The Phillies were rumored to be after Machado for weeks. They are believed to have finished as runners-up in the trade negotiations and will likely be serious bidders and leading contenders for his long-term services in the coming off-season.
I say the “return” because Machado has already faced the Phillies in three games this month while still with Baltimore. He went 3-12 with a double, two walks, a run scored, and an RBI during what were three Orioles losses.
Perhaps the most important of those items of interest is the fact that this is a match-up between a pair of first place ball clubs. The Phillies (55-43) hold a one-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East Division. The Dodgers (55-44) carry a 1.5 game edge over Arizona and a two-game lead on Colorado into this series.
For the Phillies, right-hander Zach Eflin will return to the mound to start in the opener. It will be the first start since prior to last week’s MLB All-Star Game break for the 24-year-old hurler.
Eflin has already faced Los Angeles once this season. Back on May 28 at Dodger Stadium he was drilled for five earned runs and seven hits, lasted just four innings, and suffered the loss during an 8-2 victory by the host Dodgers. Both Matt Kemp and Max Muncy homered off him that night.
In his last outing on July 9, Eflin went five innings in the first game of a doubleheader at Citi Field in what turned out to be a 10-inning walkoff victory for the host New York Mets. He allowed three earned runs on five hits, striking out four and walking none on the night, with 58 of his 84 pitches going for strikes.
After that start, Eflin developed a blister on the middle finger of his right (pitching) hand. The team decided to replace him with Enyel De Los Santos for what had been his regularly scheduled start last Sunday in Miami. The Phillies placed him on the 10-day disabled list, and the thinking was that he would have the entirety of the break to fully heal.
Per Jesse Morris, M.D. at thefantasydoctors.com: “As we know (think Rich Hill & Aaron Sanchez) these can linger and take a long time to heal.” Per Morris, that healing can take as long as six weeks in some cases. Eflin is returning quickly, and the hope is that he will suffer no setbacks and pick his season right back up where it left off.
Eflin has performed like a front-line starting pitcher this season. He will carry a 7-2 record with a 3.15 ERA and a 3.04 FIP into this start. In his first dozen outings, Eflin has allowed 60 hits over 68.2 innings with a 67/14 K:BB ratio.
Count the skipper of the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, among those impressed by Eflin. After the righty had tossed seven shutout innings in a 3-0 victory over the Bronx Bombers on June 28, Boone commented as follows per Bill Evans of NJ.com:

“Fastball both sides of the plate, mixing in the slider. I knew we had a tough customer coming in. I know he’s been pitching well. Really, we saw three good pitchers for the Phillies in this series and Eflin, you can see why they’re kind of excited about him. I thought he threw the ball really well and really was in command, and he kind of shut us down.”

That is the Eflin that the Phillies need to see tonight, and over the remainder of the season. Quality starting pitching has been the single biggest factor in the club’s rise to the top of the divisional standings, and Eflin has provided a large share of that quality.