polanco fist bump

Phillies tally three runs in the 3rd, Giants now trail

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How quickly things change in the game of baseball.

Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez kicked off the top of the third inning with a bloop single to right-center field, Carlos Ruiz got hit by a pitch, then a bunt by Roy Halladay that should have been called foul was, for some reason, ruled fair.

An error in the next at-bat by Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff gave Shane Victorino second base and allowed both Ibanez and Ruiz to score.  Huff should have had the routine groundball, but it bounced off his glove and traveled into shallow center field.  2-1, Phillies.

The odd half-inning was not over.  Placido Polanco nearly got beaned by a high-and-tight fastball from Tim Lincecum, stared Lincecum down for a moment, then roped a single to left-center that gave Victorino an easy path toward home.  3-1, Phillies.

Halladay will take the mound in the bottom of the third inning with a two-run lead and the Giants don’t exactly have an explosive offense.  Maybe the Phils can survive this NLCS Game 5 and push the seven-game series back to Philadelphia, just as the Yankees did Wednesday in the ALCS.  Or, as so often happens, this matchup that has been billed as a “great pitcher’s duel” could turn into an all-out slugfest.

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)
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.