Phillies

Best of MLB: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez each homer twice in Yankees' win over Rangers

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Best of MLB: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez each homer twice in Yankees' win over Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Aaron Judge became the second major league rookie with a 40-homer season, going deep twice as the AL wild card-leading New York Yankees got a series clinching 16-7 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday.

Gary Sanchez also hit two solo homers for the Yankees, giving him 30 this season and 50 in his 161 games since his 2015 debut.

With Judge's AL-best 40th homer in the fourth, the 25-year-old joined Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle as the only Yankees to hit 40 homers at age 25 or younger. Judge added No. 41 two innings later, a drive that would have gone 463 feet unimpeded, according to MLB's Statcast.

Mark McGwire hit a league-high 49 homers as a rookie for Oakland in 1987 (see full recap).

Brewers complete sweep of Cubs, move within 2 games of NL Central lead
CHICAGO -- Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer to back Zach Davies, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 Sunday to complete a three-game sweep and close within two games of the NL Central leaders.

Chicago entered the series with a five-game division lead, a season high, but the defending World Series champions totaled three runs in the series. Milwaukee is tied for second in the NL Central with St. Louis.

Davies (17-8) allowed one run and seven hits in seven innings, Anthony Swarzak pitched a hitless eighth and Corey Knebel finished for his 34th save in 39 chances.

Kyle Hendricks (6-5) gave up three runs and four hits in six innings (see full recap).

Rockies rout Dodgers, whose skid reaches 10 games
LOS ANGELES -- The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers lost their 10th straight game for their worst skid in 25 years, routed by Mark Reynolds and the Colorado Rockies 8-1 Sunday.

Reynolds hit a grand slam, Nolan Arenado and Trevor also homered, and Tyler Chatwood pitched five scoreless innings. The Rockies remained three games ahead of St. Louis and Milwaukee for the second NL wild-card spot.

Los Angeles still owns the best record in the majors at 92-51, but even that's becoming tenuous. Washington beat the Phillies on Sunday to cut LA's lead to four games.

The Dodgers have dropped nine in a row at Chavez Ravine for the first time in 30 years. Overall, Los Angeles has lost 15 of 16, including its longest drought since losing 10 straight in 1992.

Rich Hill (9-8) gave up two runs and four hits in five innings. Chatwood (7-12) allowed five hits and struck out five (see full recap).

Wacha's 8 shutout innings, Molina's 5 RBIs power Cardinals past Pirates
ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina hit a three-run homer and tied a career high with five RBIs, Michael Wacha pitched eight strong innings and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-0 on Sunday.

St. Louis, which has won three in a row and seven of eight, moved 2 1/2 games behind Chicago in the NL Central. The Cardinals are also 2 1/2 behind Colorado for the second NL wild card.

Randal Grichuk added a solo homer for St. Louis, which moved to a season-high seven games over .500.

Pittsburgh dropped its fifth in a row and slumped to 10 games under .500 for the first time since the end the of 2011 season.

Molina pushed the lead to 4-0 with his drive off Ivan Nova (11-13) in the fourth inning. He had an RBI single in the first and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Wacha (12-7) allowed five hits while striking out seven and did not walk a better in getting his third win in three starts (see full recap).

Healthy Jerad Eickhoff says, 'The sky is the limit'

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Healthy Jerad Eickhoff says, 'The sky is the limit'

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jerad Eickhoff is an important man in this Phillies season. He needs to be closer to the guy who pitched to a 3.65 ERA in 197 1/3 innings in 2016 than the one who had a 4.71 ERA in 128 innings last season.

It all starts with good health. Eickhoff, 27, missed time with an upper-back strain and a nerve issue near his right shoulder last season.

He is healthy now and has made a tweak in his mechanics to ease pressure on his shoulder. He made his spring debut with two hitless, scoreless innings in a 6-0 exhibition win over the University of Tampa on Thursday (more on the game here). Eickhoff threw 17 pitches, 14 of which were strikes. He struck out two, walked none and hit a batter. 

“No matter what game it is that you pitch in, you get that intensity, there’s a hitter in the box, you still get butterflies being back at it,” Eickhoff said. “Today was a big day, facing some competition. The live batting practice was checking off the first box. A game setting was kind of the second box, so I think the sky is the limit from here. I feel great.”

Eickhoff developed a mechanical flaw last season as his body would often fall toward first base after delivering the ball. That put pressure on his shoulder. He has tried to correct the flaw this winter by holding his glove a little higher before he releases the ball. That helps him get going toward home plate.

If healthy, Eickhoff will be in the starting rotation. (Former bench coach Larry Bowa is high on him). But he’s taking nothing for granted.

“I try to approach every spring like I’m trying to win a job,” Eickhoff said. “I have something to prove every year.”

Notes
• Andrew Knapp caught and batted leadoff. He worked a walk to lead off the game and that impressed manager Gabe Kapler. Kapler advised not to read into batting order positions this early in camp. 

“These are practice settings,” he said.

• The Phillies play their Grapefruit League opener Friday afternoon against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Rotation candidates Nick Pivetta and Mark Leiter Jr. are expected to get some work. Non-roster invite Francisco Rodriguez, he of the 437 career saves, could also get an inning.

Future closer? Power-armed Seranthony Dominguez dazzles in opener

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Future closer? Power-armed Seranthony Dominguez dazzles in opener

CLEARWATER, Fla. — This was a nice little glimpse of the future.

Seven of the eight pitchers used by the Phillies in Thursday’s 6-0 exhibition win over the University of Tampa were prospects who likely need a little more time in the minors, but could someday be mainstays in Philadelphia.

Jerad Eickhoff started and pitched two scoreless innings (see story). After him, prospects Jose Taveras, Tom Eshelman, Franklyn Kilome, Enyel De Los Santos, Seranthony Dominguez, Cole Irvin and Ranger Suarez kept the shutout intact. None of the Phillies’ pitchers walked a batter, though Eickhoff did hit one.

“No walks, that’s fairly unusual for spring training,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was like Command City. Guys were on top of it.”

Kapler singled out Dominguez, a strong-bodied, power-armed, 23-year-old right-hander who earned a spot on the 40-man roster in November. Dominguez allowed a leadoff single in the seventh then came back with three swinging strikeouts, all on high-80s sliders.

“He maintained his composure, had electric stuff and the bravado of a seasoned veteran,” Kapler said.

Dominguez, signed out of the Dominican Republic for $25,000 in 2012, touched 100 mph with his fastball as a starter in the Florida State League early last season. He ended up missing time with biceps tendinitis, but is healthy now. The Phillies have reduced his pitch mix from four to three (fastball, slider, changeup) and he will convert to the bullpen, where he profiles as a potential closer, this season. He is likely to open at Double A Reading. Don’t rule out seeing him in Philadelphia later this season if all goes well.

“As a bullpen guy, he could be a quick mover,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

“He has a top-of-the-scale fastball,” director of player development Joe Jordan said. “He has a chance to really dominate in the late innings.”