MLB "Turning Two" Recap: September 17, 2019

A few major turns took place over the weekend, potentially ending an NL East team’s run for October baseball.

Top Series

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Boston Red Sox

The Phillies’ season may have come to an end this weekend after a two-game series against the Red Sox. Philadelphia entered Saturday’s matchup just 2.5 games out of the 2nd wild card spot.

Philly’s lineup has been productive for the most part. There are a few hitters here and there that haven’t produced too much for that offense. The major problem has been the team’s rotation and bullpen. Just one starting pitcher in the Phillies’ staff has an ERA below 4, and it is Aaron Nola.

Nola has been the best pitcher for the Phillies this year without any doubt. While the other pitchers in the staff got worse in the 2nd half of the season, Nola improved. Nola sported a 3.74 1st half ERA and was able to bring it down thanks to his 3.44 2nd half ERA. His K% went up to 28.1% from 26.2% in the 1st half, and his BB/9 decreased from 3.58 to 3.33. While Nola only got slightly better in the 2nd half, his colleagues in the rotation did not fare well at all.

The Phillies hosted Boston for a short 2-game series at home on Saturday. While the Red Sox are not making the playoffs this season, they knew this series meant a lot for the counterparts. Game 1 proved to be a pitching matchup as two of the best pitchers from both sides took the bump in Eduardo Rodriguez and Aaron Nola.

Rodriguez was fantastic. Throwing 6.2 innings, he was able to strike out 12 batters while allowing just 1 run on 4 hits. His counterpart, Aaron Nola, also dazzled. He went the distance pitching 7 frames while striking out 9 and allowing just 1 run on 4 hits as well.

The offense was slow on the day as the scoring started in the 7th inning. Christian Vazquez continued his breakout season as he drove a double to center to score Rafael Devers. The Phillies loaded up the bases in the bottom half of the inning and Maikel Franco’s patience paid off as he was able to draw the game-tying walk.

In the 9th, Andrew Benintendi hit a sac-fly to left field to score Chris Owings. Brandon Workman punched out Logan Morrison to secure the save for Boston as the Phillies slid another game back in the wild card hunt.

Both lineups picked themselves up during Sunday’s matinee. Boston struck first in the top of the 1st as J.D. Martinez opened the scoring with a sac fly. After Rick Porcello got out of the 1st inning without allowing a run for Boston, Rhys Hoskins stepped up to the plate in the 2nd and drove a solo homer over the fence to tie the game up at 1. With the bases loaded in the top of the 3rd for the Sox, Christian Vazquez poked a ball over the fence in left field for a go-ahead grand slam.

After Cesar Hernandez and Jean Segura hit RBI singles in the 5th and 6th, Christian Vazquez was able to hit his 2nd homer of the game on solo form in the top half of the 6th. Vazquez finished with 2 homers and 5 RBI’s in the afternoon as the Red Sox would pick up the 6-3 win potentially end the Phillies’ season with the sweep.

Fangraphs currently gives the Phillies a 0.4% chance of making the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Phils, now 5 games back of the 2nd wild card spot, they start a 10-game road trip where they will kick things off in Atlanta on Tuesday to face the red-hot Braves for a three-game series.

Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers

The A’s left Houston taking 3 out of 4 games in a massive series that not just helped Oakland gain ground in the wild card race, but it showed baseball that the A’s can make some noise in October if they are given the chance.

Oakland continued their Texas road trip over the weekend as they faced the Rangers for a 3-game series. This A’s lineup is getting hot at the right time. After putting 21 runs across the plate against Houston on the 10th, the A’s high scoring continued as the traveled north in the state to Arlington.

In Friday’s game, The A’s scored in 6 of 9 innings including the first 4 frames. Matt Olson kicked things off in the 1st inning with a solo homer. Khris Davis went yard the very next inning in solo form which highlighted a 2-run inning. The Rangers were able to take the 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 2nd after Shin-Soo Choo blasted a 3-run homer.

The scoring didn’t stop as the next inning Khris Davis stepped up to the plate again and launched a go-ahead 3-run homer to put the A’s up 6-4. Danny Santana responded for the Rangers in the bottom half of the 3rd with a 3-run homer of his own to give the Rangers the lead yet again, 7-6. Ramon Laureano’s sac fly in the 4th tied the game up at 7.

Laureano stepped up again in the 6th and parked a 3-run homer over the fence to give the A’s insurance as well as a 10-7 lead. In the 9th, Marcus Semien drove a 2-run homer over the fence and Sheldon Neuse lined a single to center field to score 2 as well, giving the A’s a commanding 14-7 lead. Elvis Andrus stroked a 2-run single in the 9th, but that obviously wasn’t enough as the A’s took game 1, 14-9.

Game 2 was also a battle between the lineups as Rougned Odor lined a 2-run homer over the fence as part of a 3-run 2nd inning for the Rangers. Matt Chapman’s 3-run homer the next inning would tie the game at 3. Josh Phegley hit a 2-run homer over the wall in the 4th to give the A’s a 5-3 lead. Shin-Soo Choo and Delino DeShields both drove in a run in the bottom of the 4th to tie up the game yet again for the Rangers. Mark Cahna tattooed a ball in the 5th over the wall for a 2-run homer giving the A’s the lead, 7-5.

Matt Olson’s 34th homer of the year came in the top of the 6th in solo form to pad the lead. The Rangers were able to plate just one run there on out and the A’s picked up their 5th straight win in this 8-6 victory.

Sean Manaea made his 3rd start of the season in Sunday’s game and looked like his old self after missing 13 months while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He pitched 6 shutout innings striking out six while allowing just 3 hits.

Marcus Semien slugged a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning for his 30th homer of the season. Shortly after, in the same inning, Seth Brown hit a double to right field, driving in 2 runs. Up 4-0 in the 6th, Sean Murphy flared a single into left to score Khris Davis and put the game out of reach. After the Rangers plated a run in the 8th, Matt Chapman hit his 34th homer in the 9th to break the A’s single-season team record for home runs set at 243 prior to Chapman’s homer. The A’s picked up the 6-1 victory and left the state of Texas winning 6 out of 7 games.

Fangraphs now gives the A’s a 92.7% chance of making the postseason as they sit 1 game up in the 1st wild card spot, and 2.5 games up for the 2nd wild card spot. They dropped game 1 of 3 to the Royals yesterday, but they look to bounce back with southpaw Brett Anderson on the mound.

Waiver Wire Targets

Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics (24.7% owned/ESPN)

It is championship week in fantasy baseball and if you’re in need of a catcher you are in luck. Sean Murphy has put up fantastic numbers in his time with the A’s this season. With just 29 AB’s this season, he has 12 hits which include 5 doubles and 4 homers. While he’s not the everyday catcher in Oakland, he will definitely give you great numbers as the A’s lineup is red-hot like I mentioned before. Give Sean Murphy a look if you’re in need of a catcher on your championship roster.

Luis Severino, New York Yankees (70% owned/ESPN)

Sevy is back. He is making his first start tonight against the Angels in the Bronx. We all know what he is capable of doing, and we know he wants to ensure that the Yanks get home-field advantage for the playoffs. Pick him up ASAP as the Yankees continue their final push for home-field in the playoffs.

Retired Little League baseball utility player.

Twitter: @walexbelsh