So far so good with Jim Thome playing first base

7 Comments

Jim Thome has started at first base for the Phillies in three of the first 16 games, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider that he last played even an inning at the position in mid-2007.

He committed a throwing error yesterday, but health-wise the 41-year-old has held up pretty well after missing tons of time with minor injuries during the previous few seasons.

Getting just 18 total plate appearances through 16 games has made it tough for Thome to stay sharp and he’s just 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts, but considering how much the Phillies’ lineup has struggled to produce runs it’ll be interesting to see if manager Charlie Manuel tries to expand his role with some more time at first base.

In addition to Thome’s three starts there the Phillies have used Ty Wigginton six times, Laynce Nix four times, and John Mayberry three times, and that quartet has combined to hit just .263 with one homer and a .730 OPS. Of course, as mediocre as a .730 OPS is for first base it actually ranks as the best OPS the Phillies have gotten from any position in their lineup. Which is why they rank second-to-last with 2.7 runs per game.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
5 Comments

There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).