Phillies to start a lefthander (Ranger Suarez), finally | Extra Innings
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Chase Utley's return to Philadelphia was the headline event during the Los Angeles Dodgers' three days at Citizens Bank Park, but the appearance of Manny Machado in just his second series since being traded from the Baltimore Orioles made for a nice subplot. If the Phillies do indeed still plan to make a run at Machado when the 26-year-old shortstop becomes eligible for free agency after the season, then they have to be pleased with the impression they made on him.
In seven games — four with Baltimore and three with the Dodgers — against the Phillies, Machado went 1-6 and saw a team that had a solid pitching staff and a special chemistry that allowed them to keep grinding even when they were down. Machado went 1 for 3 with a walk in the Dodgers' 7-3 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday, and he finished his seven games against them this season hitting .172 (5 for 29) with one RBI.
Days before the all-star game, Machado said he heard chants of "We want Manny" at CBP while he was still with the Orioles, and he received some more warm receptions during his three days in town with the Dodgers. All the Phillies have to do now is give him 400 million reasons to come back to the East Coast. In the meantime, the staff at Extra Innings would like to pledge that we will not mention Manny Machado's name again until after the season.
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— Bob Brookover (email@example.com)
Ranger will see Reds
Rookie Ranger Suarez will make his major-league debut and become the first lefthander to start a game for the Phillies since Adam Morgan on Sept. 28, 2016 when he faces the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night at Great American Ballpark. Suarez earned his way to the big leagues with dominating stuff over the last two months, posting a 4-1 record and a 1.15 ERA in his last nine starts — six at double-A Reading and the last three at triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The 23-year-old lefty from Venezuela will face the last-place Reds in his debut, but he should not be fooled by Cincinnati's place in the National League Central standings. The Reds, who were swept by the Phillies in a three-game April series at Citizens Bank Park, have their share of pitching problems, but they also have a long list of offensive weapons.
The Reds, in fact, might have the best hitting infield in all of baseball with the quartet of first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Scooter Gennett, shortstop Jose Peraza and third baseman Eugenio Suarez. All but Peraza made the National League all-star team. Votto, a six-time all-star, has a .419 on-base percentage, third in baseball behind only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Gennett, claimed off waivers before the start of last season, has slugged 43 home runs and driven in 160 runs since joining the Reds. Suarez leads the Reds with 22 home runs and the entire National League with 76 home runs.
Cincinnati averages 4.8 runs, fourth best in the National League, and is a better team than its record indicates. Since a 3-18 start, they Reds are 42-39, including a 19-12 stretch in their last 31 games. This will not be an easy debut for Suarez.
Adam Jones, anyone? Our Scott Lauber cites baseball sources who say the Phillies have interest in acquiring the veteran outfielder from the Baltimore Orioles. As a 10-year veteran who has spent more than five years with the same team, Jones has a right to nix any deal, but it really is hard to imagine why anyone other than Boog Powell would want to remain in Camden Yards right now.
The Phillies might not have won the Manny Machado sweepstakes at the trade deadline, but they proved during their three-game series against the Dodgers that they are not willing to go quietly into the good night without him. Thanks to a five-run sixth inning that included a Scott Kingery home run and a Carlos Santana three-run triple, the Phillies won the series finale, 7-3, against L.A. just a few hours after they rallied to win a 16-inning marathon that ended at 1:14 a.m. Wednesday. Here is Scott Lauber's game story.
Jim Thome's time with the Phillies was relatively brief, but his impact was powerful. Here's a look at his Philadelphia story ahead of the slugger's induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y. It includes some terrific insight from former Phillies general manager Ed Wade and Charlie Manuel, the club's all-time winningest manager.
Gabe Kapler managed his 100th game for the Phillies on Tuesday night (and into Wednesday morning), and it ended with a wild 7-4, 16-inning win at 1:14 a.m., thanks to a three-run home run by Trevor Plouffe off Dodgers utility man Kike Hernandez. Our resident research junkie, Ed Barkowitz, dug into the record book and found that Kapler's 56-44 record was the second-best mark in franchise history after 100 games. Only the late, great Dallas Green, at 57-43, was better.
Our intern Ben Pope went up to Allentown's Coca-Cola Park and talked to Aaron Altherr about his demotion to triple-A Lehigh Valley after Sunday's doubleheader against San Diego. Altherr said he needs to work on his timing and confidence.
Tonight: Suarez makes his big-league debut vs. Tyler Mahle, 7:10 p.m.
Tomorrow: Nick Pivetta vs. Anthony DeSclafani, 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: Vince Velasquez faces former Met Matt Harvey, 6:40 p.m.
Sunday: Zach Eflin vs. Luis Castillo, 1:10 p.m.
Monday: Aaron Nola will face the Bosox at Fenway Park, 7:10 p.m.
Stat of the day
There's an old baseball joke about players who come to the big leagues via the Dominican Republic never drawing walks. The punchline: No one ever walked off the island. Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana might not have been the first to walk on water to get here from the Dominican, but he has dispelled the stereotype. He is fourth in the majors with 78 walks this season and on pace for a career-high 125 walks, which is saying something. Santana has been in the top 10 in the majors in walks every year since 2011, including 2014 when he led the majors with 113.
Santana also has a reputation for being a better hitter in the second half of a season, and it appears as if that trend could continue. He came into the year as a .260 hitter with a .371 on-base percentage and an .840 OPS after the all-star break. After his two-hit game that included a bases-loaded triple Wednesday, Santana is hitting .304 with a double, triple, home run and eight RBIs in six games since the all-star break. His on-base percentage is .403, and his OPS is .973 in that stretch.
From the mailbag
Bob: In (a recent) column, Chase Utley will always be 'The Man' around here, you make the assertion: There is not a single second baseman in the Hall of Fame who you can say has superior numbers to the ones that will be next to Utley's name when he is done playing. Sure there is, Philadelphia's own Eddie Collins. Perhaps you've heard of him. Let's compare their career statistics, recognizing that Utley's career is not quite over:
WAR 124 65.6
AB 9949 6833
R 1821 1102
H 3315 1883
BA .333 .276
HR 47 259
RBI 1299 1025
SB 741 153
OBP .424 .358
SLG .429 .466
OPS .853 .825
OPS+ 141 117
Bob W., via email
Answer: All right, that was more of a comment than a question, but I tip my Extra Innings cap and concede the point to Bob W. Collins played 25 years, including 13 in Philadelphia, and was a prominent member of three of Connie Mack's World Series-winning teams. Sources tell me he declared that the A's were "world bleeping champions" after the 1910 title.