Phillies push NLCS to Game 6 with 4-2 victory in San Fran

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Just as the Yankees did Wednesday in Game 5 of the ALCS, the Phillies have pushed their NLCS matchup with the Giants to a Game 6.

Phillies ace Roy Halladay had a little trouble early on, both in finding the strike zone and during a first-inning stare-down with Giants outfielder Pat Burrell, but the right-hander eventually settled in and surrendered only two earned runs while striking out five over six innings of work.

The Phillies’ bullpen did a fantastic job in his wake, allowing only one hit over the final three frames as an excited and packed AT&T Park slowly grew docile.

Giants starter Tim Lincecum pitched fairly well, finishing with seven strikeouts and only one walk over seven quality innings.  But he was hurt by poor defense in what became a three-run third inning for Philly and the San Francisco offense failed to rally.

Now this seven-game series heads back to Philadelphia, where the fans will be ferocious, where the ballpark is more hitter-friendly and where Roy Oswalt will take on Jonathan Sanchez in Game 6 in an effort to keep the Phils kicking.

Oswalt allowed a game-winning sacrifice fly during a relief appearance in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4, but he’s been dominant since the start of September and should fare well at Citizens Bank Park, where he has held opposing hitters to a .208/.264/.320 batting line in 10 career starts.  The righty has a 1.76 ERA and 0.85 WHIP this year in that park.  Pick any sample size you’d like; Oswalt does the deed.

That’s not to say that Sanchez, the Giants’ lefty, isn’t capable of burning the Phillies and clinching his club’s first trip to the World Series since 2002.  He has surrendered only three earned runs in 13.1 innings this postseason with 18 strikeouts against four walks.

Thursday’s Game 5 in San Francisco wasn’t the great pitching duel that most expected.

Saturday’s Game 6 might be.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.