APTOPIX NLCS Giants Phillies Baseball

Roy Oswalt gets it done on the mound, on the bases as the Phillies tie up the NLCS at 1


The best part of this game came right after it was over, as FOX’s Ken Rosenthal was interviewing Jimmy Rollins:

Rosenthal: “What does this game do for you, Jimmy?”

Rollins: “Well, it puts us tied 1-1.”

Some things just are as they appear, you know?

Like Roy Oswalt dealing. There was no magic here. There was nothing more than what met the eye: Oswalt throwing lots of strikes, challenging Giants hitters to do something with them, only to have them fail over and over again. Cody Ross got another homer on what must have been a mistake pitch — no way that Chooch and Oswalt mean to throw him yet another middle-in fastball, right? Not after he hit that pitch out twice against Halladay, right? — but that was about it. Oswalt threw eight dominant innings, striking out nine and allowing only that homer and a couple of singles.

But that wasn’t all. Oswalt contributed on the basepaths as well, singling, then taking second on a sacrifice, then scoring from second on a Placido Polanco single. Which he really shouldn’t have scored on, by the way, as third base coach Sam Perlozzo had the stop sign up as Oswalt approached third. I guess Roy couldn’t hear him over the sound of the swooshing satin of the warmup jacket he was wearing while on base, because he kept coming and slid home ahead of the relay throw to make it 3-1 Phillies. There probably shouldn’t have been a relay throw. If the ball wasn’t cut off, Oswalt may have been nailed at the plate. It ended up being a moot point, though, as the Phillies scored three runs on a bases-clearing double by Rollins later in the inning, putting the game out of reach.

For the Giants part, Jonathan Sanchez started out shaky, unable to make the ball go where he wanted it to. He walked in the game’s first run during his 35-pitch first inning. If early in the game you would have told me that Sanchez would pitch into the seventh I would have said you were crazy, but he settled down and did just that. He had some help getting there though, as many Phillies hitters — notably Jayson Werth and Rollins — thought it was a good idea to do some first-pitch swinging. Such an approach prolonged Sanchez’s night, but the Phillies made it into the San Francisco bullpen eventually, and when they did it was goodnight Irene.

With this series, like the Yankees-Rangers series, tied 1-1, we have ourselves a competitive couple of League Championship Series, no? On Tuesday it will be Hamels vs. Cain by the Bay. Now that the Phillies have figured out how to pitch to Cody Ross — or at least they hope they have — someone in a cream, black and orange uniform had better figure out how to hit the ball, or else this thing isn’t coming back to Philly.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.

White Sox sign catcher Alex Avila to a one-year deal

Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila, right, is congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after his solo home run in the third inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There have been a lot of articles published in the past few days about how to navigate awkward Thanksgiving conversations with your relatives. Heck, we even wrote one.

But there’s always room for more! Such as “How to talk to your father at Thanksgiving dinner about the fact that he let you walk away from the only team you’ve ever known to sign with a division rival.” Which is what Alex Avila will likely be talking about with his father, Tigers GM Al Avila:

The older Avila can’t even say he did it because he’s opposed to nepotism. After all, he just hired his other son — who has had his law degree for just over a year — as the Tigers assistant legal counsel for baseball operations. Though I’m sure that wasn’t nepotism. He probably just aced the interview and impressed everyone more than the other candidates did.

OK, those are jokes. In all seriousness, this is a good move for Alex and Al and, probably, the White Sox. With the emergence of James McCann, there really is not space for Alex Avila in Detroit in anything other than a backup capacity. In Chicago, he’ll get more playing time. At least if he can (a) stay healthy; and (b) not hit .191/.339/.287 again like he did in 2015.

Pirates sign outfielder/first baseman Jake Goebbert

Jake Goebbert

The best thing about minor Thanksgiving week transactions is that they are almost certainly done by GMs frantically looking for some work to do rather than go pick up their in-laws at the airport. I mean, sure, the player in question could very easily be an important player who fills a key role in the organization, but it’s not like it couldn’t have waited until Monday, right? This is the GM equivalent of you pretending you have to run into the office on Wednesday afternoon and, in reality, driving around in your car, listening to Neil Young and promising that NEXT YEAR you’re just doing a small Thanksgiving dinner with no family and, maybe, might even go on a little trip, just you and the wife.

Or is that just me? OK, maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, that’s how I’m choosing to view the Pirates activity today. First they traded for Allen Webster and now they’re signing minor league free agent first baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert, according to Adam Berry of MLB.com.

Goebbert, 28, hit .294 with an .844 OPS and 10 homers for Triple-A El Paso last season. He has 115 plate appearances in the bigs, all for San Diego in 2014. Overall he has a line of .282/.386/.465 with 30 homers in 997 Triple-A plate appearances in the Astros, Athletics and Padres organizations.

Not a bad depth move, especially given that the Pirates are looking to trade Pedro Alvarez and otherwise re-jigger their first base situation.