Manny Machado Who? Phillies Can Go a Season-High 10 Games Over .500


The Baltimore Orioles are in town and the spotlight is shining on stud infielder Manny Machado because, well, you know why. He will likely be traded soon and the Phillies want him, either now or in the offseason when he becomes one of the prizes of the free-agent market.

Maikel Franco has had many chances over the last couple of seasons to dissuade Phillies management from pursuing Machado, but he hasn't done that simply because he has been too inconsistent in the field and at the plate. Machado is playing shortstop for the Orioles these days, but he could end up at third base long term if the Phillies were ever able to land him.

For now, Franco is at the position, and wouldn't you know it: On a night when so much attention was on the possible future third baseman, the current third baseman saved the game and helped the Phillies lock down a 3-2 win over the Orioles at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night (see first take).

Franco made a defensive gem - a dive to his right and a throw from his knees - with the bases loaded to end the top of the eighth inning.

Technically, Seranthony Dominguez got the save.

Franco deserved one, too.

"What a tremendous play," manager Gabe Kapler said. "That was obviously the play of the game and got us the win."

There were other standouts. Rhys Hoskins and Andrew Knapp drove in all of the Phillies' runs with two-out, extra-base hits. Dominguez struck out the final two batters of the game with a runner on second. And Zach Eflin, winner of six straight starts, continued to shine with seven innings of two-run ball.

But it all goes for naught if Franco doesn't make his game-saving play on lefty-hitting Chris Davis' ground ball in the eighth.

"Mikey played his ass off," Eflin said. "That play was awesome."

Franco was shaded toward second in the shift and Davis tried to find a hole. If the ball had gotten through, the Orioles would have scored two runs and taken the lead. Franco's snuff-out play helped the Phillies improve to nine games over .500. They can go to a season-high 10 over with a win Wednesday.

"I wanted that play so bad," Franco said. "I know it's a tough inning. Bases loaded. If I make that play, I maybe save the game."

He did. Franco threw from his knees to first baseman Carlos Santana. The Phillies held their breath when the play was reviewed to see if Santana kept his foot on the bag. He did.

After uncorking the throw to Santana, Franco punched the ground in triumph.

"I got excited," he said. "I just tried to do everything I could with that play. I was fortunate to make a good play. That's good for us."

Franco's time with the Phillies appears to be dwindling. It's clear that he's being phased out of the team's plans. He has lost playing time over the last month or so and been dropped in the batting order. The Phillies are seeking a temporary upgrade at third, in case they have to wait until the offseason for Machado, and Franco could be traded away this month.

He knows that.

He also knows that the team and the fans covet Machado.

But Franco plays on.

"I don't think about it," he said. "I just come in every single day and do everything I can do. Try to live day to day and not think about what's going to happen. Try to just be in my moment and after that whatever happens happens."

What happened Tuesday night was the Phillies won again and Franco got the save.

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