So far so good with Jim Thome playing first base

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Jim Thome has started at first base for the Phillies in three of the first 16 games, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider that he last played even an inning at the position in mid-2007.

He committed a throwing error yesterday, but health-wise the 41-year-old has held up pretty well after missing tons of time with minor injuries during the previous few seasons.

Getting just 18 total plate appearances through 16 games has made it tough for Thome to stay sharp and he’s just 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts, but considering how much the Phillies’ lineup has struggled to produce runs it’ll be interesting to see if manager Charlie Manuel tries to expand his role with some more time at first base.

In addition to Thome’s three starts there the Phillies have used Ty Wigginton six times, Laynce Nix four times, and John Mayberry three times, and that quartet has combined to hit just .263 with one homer and a .730 OPS. Of course, as mediocre as a .730 OPS is for first base it actually ranks as the best OPS the Phillies have gotten from any position in their lineup. Which is why they rank second-to-last with 2.7 runs per game.

Manny Machado called for interference with Orlando Arcia

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Fresh off our “Manny Machado didn’t hustle” post, here’s one about him trying a little too hard. Machado was called for interference in the bottom of the fourth inning during Monday night’s NLCS Game 3 against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. It was actually Machado’s second attempt to interfere with Orlando Arcia during the game.

In the bottom of the second, Machado led off with a single. Cody Bellinger followed up by hitting a grounder to second baseman Travis Shaw, who fed to Arcia. Machado slid towards Arcia enough to disrupt the play, allowing Bellinger to reach first base safely. The Brewers didn’t challenge, in part because Arcia didn’t attempt a throw.

Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Machado again leads off and again reaches base, this time with a walk. Bellinger hits another grounder. First baseman Jesús Aguilar snags the ball and fires to Arcia covering the second base bag. Machado slides into second base and reaches out with his right hand to mess with Arcia’s throw to first base. It succeeds, as Arcia’s throw skips past first base towards the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged the call, alleging slide interference (the “Chase Utley rule”). The umpires reviewed the play and agreed that Machado did indeed interfere with Arcia, so Bellinger was called out. What made Machado’s effort even worse is that Bellinger would’ve reached easily regardless, so there was no need to interfere with Arcia.

The Dodgers trail the Brewers 1-0 through the first half of the game. The Brewers got their run early thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Braun off of Walker Buehler in the top of the first. Jhoulys Chacín has pitched excellently for the Brewers thus far.