Unable to silence Phillies bats, Dodgers go down quietly

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The rotation provided one quality start in five games. The bullpen allowed 14 runs in 21 innings.
The Dodgers really never gave their offense a shot. It seemed like Joe Torre pushed all of the right buttons in the sweep of the Cardinals. This time, he mostly sat and watched. His one clear error was leaving Clayton Kershaw in too long in Game 1. Game 2 was the lone victory, and nothing could have made Game 3 winnable with Cliff Lee on the mound. In Game 4, he made the right calls and his best reliever got beat.
Game 5 featured seven homers, but most of the excitement was drained by the constant pitching changes, leading to very long innings. The Dodgers used three pitchers in the fourth, and the Phillies used three in the fifth. In the end, talent won out. Vicente Padilla was supposed to get hit hard by the Phillies’ left-handers in the series, but it was actually the righties that pounded him Wednesday night. Shane Victorino’s stunning homer off Kershaw in the sixth qualified as the finishing blow. The Dodgers did put together a big threat in the eighth, but James Loney, Russell Martin and Casey Blake all came up empty with the bases loaded. Philadelphia’s offense scored in six of eight innings and won 10-4.
While the Phillies can start preparing to play the Yanke… the ALCS winner, the Dodgers head home with a bunch of questions. Padilla, Randy Wolf and Jon Garland are all free agents, leaving the team with only Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley guaranteed rotation spots. If GM Ned Colletti decides a makeover is necessary to reach the next level, then Billingsley, Martin and Loney are possibilities to be dealt. Juan Pierre could also go. There’d be a whole lot more flexibility if Manny Ramirez chooses to depart, but odds are that he’ll exercise his $20 million option and stick around. With the sudden uncertainty in the ownership situation and so many of the team’s youngsters due healthy raises in arbitration, there might not be as much room for improvement as fans would like.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.