Cole Hamels shuts out Reds as Phillies complete sweep

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Yes, Game 2 was in their hands and they lost it, but with the results from Games 1 and 3, it doesn’t seem like the Reds ever really had a chance to win this series.
The Phillies got their second dominant pitching performance in three games, this one from Cole Hamels, in beating Cincinnati 2-0 on Sunday night and completing an NLDS sweep.
Hamels went the distance in this one, something he never did while putting together his dominant five-start run in the 2008 postseason. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel eschewed closer Brad Lidge in the ninth, even after Brandon Phillips singled to lead off the inning, and Hamels was able to finish it up in 119 pitches. He allowed five hits, walked none and struck out nine.
A two-out double from Ramon Hernandez in the seventh was the Reds’ lone extra-base hit. Once again, regular-season stars Joey Votto and Scott Rolen failed to get anything going. As the tying run, Votto grounded into a double play in the ninth to finish the series 1-for-10. Rolen was 1-for-11. Jonny Gomes, who didn’t play in Game 2, went 0-for-7 with three strikeouts.
The only Reds hitters to produce in the series were Phillips (4-for-12, 1 HR) and Jay Bruce (2-for-8, 1 HR, 2 BB).
With the easy victory, the Phillies will be well set up to take on either the Giants or Braves in a series starting next weekend. They’ll even have the option of setting up Roy Halladay to start Games 1, 4 and 7 if they’d like.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.