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Phillies’ second Charlie Manuel era off to an auspicious start

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Hours before the Phillies opened up a three-game home series against the Cubs on Tuesday, the club announced that hitting coach John Mallee was fired. Former manager and then-senior advisor to the GM Charlie Manuel was hired to replace him.

Mallee was hired as part of rookie manager Gabe Kapler’s coaching staff last year. In 2018, the Phillies ranked 14th in batting average (.234), 10th in on-base percentage (.314), and 11th in slugging percentage (.393). In those same respective stats this season, the Phillies ranked 12th (.245), 10th (.322), and 12th (.417).

Manuel didn’t take his new role until Wednesday evening for game two of the Phillies’ series against the Cubs. The second Manuel era got off to an auspicious start as the Phillies’ offense battered Cole Hamels, making his first start in Philadelphia since being traded at the deadline in 2015. In two-plus innings of work, Hamels coughed up eight runs on nine hits and two walks. Reliever Alec Mill forked over a pair of runs in the third inning in relief of Hamels as the Phillies jumped out to a 10-0 lead after three frames. The crowd chanted, “Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!”

Bryce Harper opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run home run to left-center field. Starter Aaron Nola helped his own cause with an RBI single in the second and Rhys Hoskins later tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly. In the third, César Hernández and Adam Haseley both had RBI singles before J.T. Realmuto broke the game open with a grand slam off of Mills. Harper slugged a no-doubt solo homer off of Mills in the sixth for his second dinger of the game. Once again, the crowd at Citizens Bank Park erupted in chants of, “Charlie!”

Hard to draw it up any better than that if you’re the Phillies. They have the chance to go on a run as their upcoming schedule is not terribly difficult. After wrapping things up with the Cubs tomorrow, they’ll host the Padres before going on the road for five games against the Red Sox and Marlins. They’ll end August with home series against the Pirates and Mets, then head to Cincinnati for four games.

Indians to activate José Ramírez tomorrow

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Indians slugger José Ramírez broke the hamate bone on his right hand last month and had surgery on August 26 to repair it. At the time he was given the same schedule most hamate bone surgery recipients get: 5-7 weeks if all goes well. Apparently all has gone better-than-well for Ramírez, however, because the Indians are going to activate him tomorrow.

That’s good news for the Indians, who are in a dead heat with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL’s second Wild Card with six games to go.

Ramírez, like his team, started the season slowly, but he had turned things on in July and August to help fuel Cleveland’s surge into playoff contention. He hit .320/.340/.680 with nine homers and 25 driven in in July and was hitting .321/.372/.705 with six homers and 20 driven in August when he went down. Basically, he had been a better version of the Ramírez who won the Silver Slugger Award and came in third in the MVP balloting in 2018, at least for those two months.

It’ll be interesting to see how rusty he is or if the surgery has sapped his power or bat speed. We’ll only have six games in which to see it, though.