Two-time All-Star Mike Hampton retires

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After allowing 12 runs on 18 hits and 11 walks over 9 2/3 innings as a non-roster invitee with the Diamondbacks this spring, veteran left-hander Mike Hampton has decided to retire.

According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Hampton told Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson on Thursday that he was leaning towards retirement. He returned to camp this morning to inform them of his decision.

“It just wasn’t there,” Hampton said. “In fairness to them and fairness to myself I’m just done. It’s not a decision that’s easy to make. It’s not one you make overnight. It had been two weeks that different thoughts have been creeping in my head. Then all of the sudden I felt, I think this is going to be it.”

Hampton, 38, has been limited to just 56 games since the start of the 2005 season due to a laundry list of injuries. He returned from rotator cuff surgery to toss 4 1/3 scoreless innings with the Diamondbacks last September. Besides all of the injuries, we’ll probably remember Hampton best for an eight-year, $121 million contract that is considered one of the biggest free agent blunders in baseball history.

“It’s unfortunate,” Hampton said. “I’ve thought about it quite a bit. Shoot, when I sign a big contract, I want to be underpaid, not overpaid. Even though I wasn’t as successful as I would have liked to have been, it wasn’t from a lack of trying or lack of work or lack of want. I did everything in my power to be on the field and help my team win a World Series. I can look in the mirror and face the guy looking back and know he’s telling the truth.”

A two-time All-Star, Hampton calls it a career with 148-115 record and a 4.06 ERA over parts of 16 major league seasons with the Astros, Braves, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Mets and Mariners. He earned a Gold Glove Award in 2003, five Silver Slugger Awards and finished second in the NL Cy Young voting in 1999 after going 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA as a member of the Astros.

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.