Braden, Rodriguez spice up the day in Oakland

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braden on mound.JPGA’s starter Dallas Braden and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez exchanged words (well, yells) in the sixth inning of Thursday’s 4-2 Oakland victory.  It wasn’t immediately clear what the two were jawing about, but MLB.com’s Jane Lee got to the bottom of the story during a round of post-game interviews.

It turns out Braden was upset that A-Rod crossed the Oakland Coliseum’s pitching mound while running off the field, an apparent no-no in the baseball world.

“He should probably take a note from his captain over there and realize
you don’t cross the pitcher’s mound in between an inning or during the
game,” said Braden. “I was just dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind —
being someone of such status. … The guy was tasting himself too long to apologize.  It’s a shame.”

While we’re not exaclty sure what “tasting himself” means, it sure does sound cool.  And, well, it’s probably fitting too.  Braden is off to a 3-0 start this year with a 2.77 ERA and 0.85 WHIP through four starts.  Rodriguez, meanwhile, is batting .304/.448/.587 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 46 at-bats.  Let’s hope the two meet again soon.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.