I just got done interviewing Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro. The interview will air on NBC SportsTalk tonight on Versus at 6PM Eastern. In the meantime, though, I can give you the gist:
- Amaro said that he does not comment on rumors and thus didn’t have anything to say about the Gio Gonzalez stuff that was floating around last night, but he did say that whatever else they do, it will not impact what the future of Cole Hamels.
- This is significant, because part of that Gonzalez stuff was tied to the notion of having him replace Hamels in the event he were to be traded or to walk when he becomes a free agent. To the contrary, Amaro told me, the team wants Cole Hamels to be a member of the Philadelphia Philles for a long, long time, and they would address an extension for him “at the appropriate time.”
- The team’s clear priority right now is “addressing the shortstop position,” which is obviously a reference to the team’s reported imminent re-signing of Jimmy Rollins. I tried to bait him a bit by mentioning the Brewers’ reported interest in Rollins. Amaro — because he’s smooth — gave a sly smile and said “I can’t comment on what the Brewers are doing.”
- He acknowledged that it was tough balance to address the flaws that were exposed in the team during the playoffs without screwing up what worked so well for 162 games. He’s confident, however, that team health — specifically Chase Utley and Hunter Pence — will be a big key to helping an offense that looked overmatched in the playoffs. Pitching, he said, is obviously still this team’s strength; finally
- Amaro reiterated what had been previously reported: Ryan Howard, at present, is only expected to miss about the first month of the season and that some combination of Jim Thome and existing parts would fill the void in the big man’s absence.
I did not ask him about Domonic Brown because I heard that Amaro is capable of Jedi mind control and would use it on me if I suggested that the kid needs a freakin’ chance to play. After all, Keaton once said “I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.” Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Ruben Amaro being mad at me.
Tune in to NBC SportsTalk on Versus at 6PM Eastern to see my interview with Ruben Amaro.
The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.
Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.
The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.
In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.
During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.
Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.
Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: