Jonathan Papelbon Tried to Choke Bryce Harper

The Phillies scored eight runs in the ninth inning, including five against closer Jonathan Papelbon, to break a 4-4 tie in Sunday’s win against the Washington Nationals. That wasn’t the big story during and after the game, however.

Outfielder Bryce Harper flied out to start the bottom of the eighth inning and he didn’t run it out with a lot of effort. On his walk back to the dugout, Papelbon was seen barking at Harper and continued to jaw at him as the NL MVP candidate made his way down the steps. Harper returned serve, which prompted Papelbon to lunge at Harper, wrapping a hand around his throat. The two were quickly separated.

Here’s video of the incident:

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Aaron Altherr Hit An Inside-the-Park Grand Slam

Aaron Altherr gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead last night when he hit what turned out to be an inside-the-park grand slam against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. The outfielder hit a sinking liner in front of center fielder Michael Taylor, who made an ill-fated dive. He never touched the ball, which skipped past him towards the fence. The three runners on base scored easily and Altherr scampered home without a throw.

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The Phillies Should Explore Trading Cody Asche

Third baseman Cody Asche hit a pair of solo home runs in Tuesday night’s 6-2 win against the Miami Marlins. It’s the first multi-homer game of his three-year career. Surprisingly, it was also his first multi-hit game since August 14.

Asche currently holds a subpar .303 weighted on-base average. The National League average for third basemen is .323 and the average for left fielders is .320. He would rank ahead of only Pablo Sandoval (.288) among qualified third basemen and ahead of only Michael Taylor (.280) and Ichiro Suzuki (.259) among left fielders with 400-plus plate appearances.

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Pete Mackanin Won’t Use Ken Giles in a Tie Game on the Road

The Phillies, coincidentally, lost every game of their three-game weekend set in Atlanta against the Braves by a 2-1 score. The getaway game on Sunday included a late comeback to tie the game at 1-1, but it ultimately ended with the Braves walking off in the bottom of the ninth inning against Luis Garcia. Closer Ken Giles sat in the bullpen, unused in a week. In fact, Giles has been used only four times this month.

Manager Pete Mackanin explained his reasoning, and he cited the typical managerial logic. Via Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News:

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Phillies made a ton of progress on the field this year. They successfully completed the hardest phase of their rebuilding process, trading away Cole Hamels along with a few others while saying goodbye to GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. Incoming president Andy MacPhail emphasized the importance of utilizing analytics when the Phillies introduced him in June. The Phillies may finish with 100 losses this season, but it has otherwise been a great year.

And then there was Sunday, when pride for their long-awaited modernization was erased by a revival of boorish jock culture. It started when interim manager Pete Mackanin benched Odubel Herrera for “pouting”, which is fine, because that pouting included a violent bat toss towards the Phillies’ on-deck circle, which could’ve hit someone. That deserves a punishment.

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Bringing Back the Crash Bag

Fans of the Crash Bag have likely noticed it has been absent from the site for a while. We’re going to try to bring it back, perhaps at a twice-monthly rate and Adam and I will share the responsibilities. That could change going forward. The Crash Bag was something I always looked forward to reading when Michael Baumann started it and when Adam took over, so I’d love to keep it going.

If you have any questions you’d like to see me tackle next week, feel free to leave them in the comments below or mention me on Twitter. The questions don’t necessarily have to be Phillies- or baseball-centric.

Together, Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf Make a Decent First Baseman

Ryan Howard‘s struggles against left-handed pitching, his 2014 season notwithstanding, are well known. The New York Yankees took advantage of this during the 2009 World Series, having lefty reliever Damaso Marte face Howard four times in four games and getting the out all four times in two fly balls and two strikeouts. It then became the law of the land for opposing managers to bring in their lefty specialist to neutralize Howard.

Injuries, age, and defensive shifting sapped Howard of his potentially productive 30’s, but so did the evolving bullpen zeitgeist. Howard wasn’t the only one affected; sluggers like Adam Dunn, David Ortiz, and Adrian Gonzalez got the same treatment.

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