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What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday evening’s action

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Craig covered Wednesday’s afternoon action. I have your evening contests.

The NL East has been really interesting this season. It didn’t figure to be that way. Most pre-season prognostications had the Nationals battling it out with the Mets for NL East supremacy while the Braves and Phillies would fight to stay out of the cellar. The Marlins would float somewhere in between, in intra-division purgatory.

The Phillies beat the Marlins today 4-2 to improve to 24-17, moving into a first-place tie with the Nationals. As MLB.com’s Richard Justice points out, the Phillies didn’t accrue 24 wins until their 71st game last season. As of this writing, only the 27-10 Cubs have more wins in the National League than the Phillies do. Even more surprisingly, if the Mets beat the Nationals this evening, the Phillies will move into a tie for first place in the division with all of the day’s games completed. Excepting their Opening Day win against the Rangers in 2014 and their Opening Day win against the Pirates in 2012, the Phillies haven’t been in first place since the end of the 2011 regular season. That’s quite a turnaround for a rebuilding club.

We talked recently about being skeptical of the Phillies’ success thus far. The offense is anemic and their run differential thoroughly in the red. Even GM Matt Klentak knows the numbers don’t portend this kind of success over the span of the entire season, but the city of Philadelphia deserves to feel good about something. The Phillies are on the up and up and get to pick first in the draft next month, adding to an already stacked minor league system. The 76ers got the first overall pick in last night’s draft lottery, which will propel their rebuilding process. The Eagles picked second in the draft, grabbing quarterback Carson Wentz. Philly fandom, especially lately, has mostly been about the lovable losers, but the hope is that one of the four major sports teams in town can build a lovable winner sooner rather than later.

The Mets will fight the Nationals on the Phillies’ behalf tonight at 7:10 PM EDT at Citi Field. Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nats and Bartolo Colon for the Mets.

The rest of Wednesday night’s action…

Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Francisco Liriano), 7:05 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker) @ Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman), 7:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi) @ Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey), 7:07 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Mike Clevinger) @ Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan), 7:10 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (John Lackey) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson), 8:10 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Doug Fister) @ Chicago White Sox (Mat Latos), 8:10 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez), 8:15 PM EDT (Game Two)

Colorado Rockies (Chris Rusin) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 8:15 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Nathan Eovaldi) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Shelby Miller), 9:40 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Mike Bolsinger) @ Los Angeles Angels (Nick Tropeano), 10:05 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto) @ San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz), 10:10 PM EDT

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.