As first reported by Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, the Phillies dismissed hitting coach Milt Thompson on Thursday evening.
As with most coaching fires in baseball, Thompson was more of a scapegoat than anything. The third-place Phillies have been hit by serious injury after serious injury this season and their struggles have more to do with the disabled list than the guy yelling “stay back in the box” from the dugout.
But that is life in the major leagues — a life Thompson knows well. The 51-year-old played in the major leagues for 13 seasons and retired in 1996 with a .274/.335/.372 career batting line.
Greg Gross has been promoted from his post as Triple-A Lehigh Valley’s
hitting coach and will fill in for the rest of the year. The Phils are seven games back of the Braves in the NL East.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: