Adrian Gonzalez is in Europe for the World Series

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Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is not on the postseason roster and, given a reoccurrence of his back injury in his final at bat of the season, stood no chance to be on the roster. He’s physically unable to play.

He could, if he wanted, be in the Dodgers clubhouse during the World Series, however, as non-roster players often are. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports, however, he has chosen not to. He’s in Europe with his family.

Gonzalez has the blessing of the Dodgers team brass in his absence, with GM Farhan Zaidi saying, “[h]e’s taking time with his family. I think guys totally understand that.” Gonzalez’s teammates quoted by Shaikin are generally OK with it, though a couple at least hint that it’d be nice if he were around. No one, on the record or off, is actively grumbling.

Still, it’s kind of odd. Gonzales was not a part of the Dodgers success in 2017, but he has been a key part of the club for many years now. He’s also been a vocal clubhouse leader over the years, so you’d think he’d want to be around and that his teammates would like to have him there. As many players have noted, of course, it’s very hard to be a leader — heck, it’s even hard to simply feel comfortable — when you’re not active. This story about Adam Eaton from last summer explains that in pretty compelling detail.

Strange that, if the Dodgers win it all, Gonzalez will learn about it from his phone, waking up in a European hotel or a rented villa or something.

 

 

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.