The Giants’ offense was dormant through the first five innings of this NLDS Game 1 despite the early exit of one Johnny Cueto. But it woke up in the sixth.
MVP candidate Buster Posey hit a leadoff homer over the left field wall, then Hunter Pence smoked a Mat Latos pitch that was caught by Drew Stubbs on the warning track in dead center. Brandon Belt followed with what would have been a bloop single had Ryan Ludwick not made a full-extension diving catch. Gregor Blanco then reached on a bunt single before Brandon Crawford flew out to shallow left.
The Giants only got one run out of the active frame, but they finally made Latos work a bit. And that feels like progress in this particular game. The Reds lead 3-1 as we move to the top of the seventh inning.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.