Phillies use wacky ninth inning to defeat Aroldis Chapman, Reds

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The ninth inning of today’s Reds-Phillies series finale was full of statistical improbabilities. First, Delmon Young drew a four-pitch walk (yes, Delmon Young walked) against Aroldis Chapman. He was immediately replaced by pitcher and pinch-runner Cliff Lee. With Erik Kratz at the plate battling Chapman in a 2-2 count, the lefty reliever picked Lee off of first, seemingly a momentum and rally killer.

(Why did Phillies manager Charlie Manuel pinch-run with a pitcher instead of John Mayberry, Jr.? He wanted to save a right-handed bat to pinch-hit for reliever Antonio Bastardo later in the inning. Lee has pinch-run for the Phillies many times in the past, and is better at the task than Young.)

Kratz worked the count to 3-2, then drove a Chapman fastball over the fence in left field for a game-tying solo home run. It was the second consecutive game in which Chapman has forked over a lead. On Thursday, Chapman allowed an inherited runner to score on a Marcell Ozuna triple.

With a freshly-tied game and one out, Freddy Galvis — getting a rare start today — took his turn at the dish. With a 1-1 count, Chapman placed a fastball letter-high over the plate, which the normally light-hitting Galvis laced down the left field line, whizzing over the top of the fence above the 334-foot sign in the corner, giving the Phillies the walk-off 3-2 victory. It is the first time in Chapman’s career (157 games) that he allowed two home runs in one outing.

Despite the good vibes from the win, the Phillies did receive some bad injury-related news. Carlos Ruiz had left the game with a hamstring injury and Ryan Howard was given the day off due to soreness in his right knee, and both will be out tomorrow as they will have MRI’s. Matt Gelb reported that the duo did not fly with the team as they head to Miami for a nine-game road trip.

Watch: Ryan Goins tags Todd Frazier with the hidden ball trick

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The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.

Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.

Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.