Phillies

Best of MLB: Aaron Judge gets 44th home run as Yankees beat Twins

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Best of MLB: Aaron Judge gets 44th home run as Yankees beat Twins

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge hit his 44th home run, Aroldis Chapman pitched out of big trouble in the eighth inning and the New York Yankees edged the Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Monday night to increase their AL wild-card lead.

Todd Frazier hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Jaime Garcia gave the Yankees a splendid performance against the team that traded him this year after only one start. New York, still chasing first-place Boston in the AL East, won the opener of a three-game series that could serve as a potential postseason preview two weeks from now.

The Yankees have built a five-game cushion for the league's top wild card with 12 to play. Minnesota is in the second spot, 1 1/2 games ahead of the idle Los Angeles Angels. So if the standings hold, New York will host the Twins in the one-game playoff on Oct. 3. (see full recap).

Olson, Lowrie lead Oakland past in Detroit
DETROIT -- Matt Olson homered, Jed Lowrie drove in three runs and the Oakland Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Monday night.

Olson became the first A's player to homer in four straight games since Coco Crisp in 2013, and now has 14 home runs in his last 20 games.

Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell left the game in the eighth inning after getting hit in the head with a line drive off the bat off Ryon Healy. The hit was measured at 102.6 mph by StatCast and hit Ferrell in the right side of the head.

He never went down, but jogged immediately toward the Detroit dugout and was escorted to the clubhouse.

Nicholas Castellanos had three hits for the Tigers, extending his career-best hitting streak to 15 games (see full recap).

Stanton hits 55th homer to help Marlins beat Mets
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton hit his 55th homer -- and his first in nine days -- while driving in four runs to help the Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 13-1 Monday night.

Batting third for the first time this year, Stanton hit a three-run line drive into the home run sculpture at Marlins Park in the fourth inning against Matt Harvey (5-6). With that, the MLB home run leader ended a drought of 29 at-bats without one.

Stanton's homer total is the highest since Ryan Howard hit 58 in 2006. Stanton added a run-scoring single in Miami's seven-run fifth.

The Marlins, back home after a trip extended by three games due to Hurricane Irma, won for only the fourth time in the past 21 games.

Marcell Ozuna had four hits, including his 34th home run. Dee Gordon also had four hits, among them a two-run triple. Ichiro Suzuki added two hits and an RBI, while rookie Brian Anderson drove in two runs with his first career triple.

Stanton came into the game batting .147 in his previous 19 games. He has been rested and held out of the starting lineup three times in the past 10 games, including Sunday (see full recap).

Suter, Braun help Brewers beat Bucs to gain in playoff race
PITTSBURGH -- Brent Suter pitched five efficient innings, Ryan Braun homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0 on Monday night to gain ground in the NL playoff chase.

Milwaukee pulled within 3 1/2 games of the Cubs in the NL Central and two games behind the Rockies for the final NL wild card. Chicago and Colorado were both off Monday.

Suter (3-2) allowed five hits and struck out four, throwing just 64 pitches before handing off to the bullpen. Five relievers split the final four innings, with Corey Knebel pitching the ninth for his 36th save in 41 tries.

Braun's solo shot, his 17th of the season, came in the fourth inning off starter Jameson Taillon (7-7). In the sixth inning, former Pirates infielder Neil Walker added on with an RBI single that ended Taillon's night.

Taillon had his last turn in the rotation skipped after a poor start Sept. 7 and rebounded by giving up two runs and six hits in five innings. Taillon walked one and struck out four.

Travis Shaw hit an RBI single to score Walker in the eighth. It was Shaw's team-leading 96th RBI this year. Braun, Shaw and Walker each had two hits (see full recap).

Carlos Santana is ready to show Maikel Franco the way

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Carlos Santana is ready to show Maikel Franco the way

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The numbering is a little off in the Phillies’ spring training clubhouse. Usually lockers are assigned in numerical sequence, clockwise around the room. But this spring, No. 41 comes after No. 7.

Why?

Because that’s the way Carlos Santana wanted it.

“I told the team that I wanted Maikel Franco right next to me,” the new first baseman said after his first workout with the club Saturday. “That's something that I wanted. I really like him. He's a special kid. I appreciate him a lot. And, not only him, the whole group is nice. But I really want to work with him and help him out.”

Santana, 31, and Franco, 25, are both natives of the Dominican Republic. They bonded this winter. After Santana signed with the Phillies in December, he worked out at the Phillies' academy in the DR with Franco.

It’s no secret this is a big year for Franco (see story). He needs to finally put together his potential or the team may look elsewhere – hello, Manny Machado – for its next third baseman.

Franco’s big area of need is Santana’s area of strength: Plate discipline. Santana walks almost as much as he strikes out. He has registered a career on-base percentage of .365 while averaging 24 homers over the last seven seasons. Franco has pop – he has hit 25 and 24 homers, respectively, the last two seasons – but his career on-base percentage is just .300 after a dip to .281 last season.

Santana has reached at least 100 walks twice in his career and at least 91 four other times. Franco had a career-best 41 walks last season.

Santana praised Victor Martinez for being a mentor to him early in his career. “That’s why I wear No. 41,” he said. Santana wants to be Franco’s Victor Martinez.

“We’re going to work together every single day,” Santana said. “We’re going to make sure he executes the plan he wants to follow. I know he’s a guy that’s very talented and he’s capable of a lot. So I’m going to be there. I’m committed to helping him. I’m going to be in the cage, hitting as many balls as possible. He already told me today that he wants to follow me everywhere he goes. If I have to go to the cage he’s going to go with me to hit some balls. He’s committed and I’m committed, too.”

The Phillies have baseball’s second-worst on-base percentage (.307, San Diego is .303) the last six seasons. The additions of Santana and J.P. Crawford to the lineup – and a full season of Rhys Hoskins, another selective hitter – should help the offense.

“When you have a guy (like Santana) in the middle of the lineup, grinding down the opposing pitcher – just imagine, you’re a pitcher on the other side and you’re delivering pitch after pitch that’s getting fouled off or a ball that is just off the corner and being taken, you get exhausted,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Guess who benefits from that? The next man up and the next man up and there’s this ripple effect. An exhausted starting pitcher or even an exhausted reliever is a really good thing for the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies in December. He said the Phillies’ young core reminds him of the group of youngsters that his former team, the Cleveland Indians, brought to the majors in recent seasons.

Unlike a number of other free agents who are still jobless in this unusual year for free agents, Santana jumped relatively early at the Phillies’ offer. He said it was “shocking” that so many free agents remain unsigned.

“I know baseball is going through a difficult time right now, with all of the free agents,” Santana said. “But it worked out for me. I am happy. I can only speak for myself, and I am happy I did it the way I did it. It's very surprising because there are a lot of talented free agents out there. I thought it would be very different from what it's been.”

To prepare for the new season and the new team, Santana worked with a personal trainer in the Dominican Republic. In one of the drills, he was forced to push a car.

“It was a complete workout,” he said. “It wasn't only to get ready for preseason, it was also to get ready for the season and be successful during the season.

“It's a positive atmosphere here. I see a lot of young guys, very hungry and very eager to win. You can tell everyone is ready to go here.”

Phillies add experienced candidate to their bullpen

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Phillies add experienced candidate to their bullpen

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies on Saturday added to their stock of reliever candidates with the signing of veteran left-hander Fernando Abad to a minor-league contract. Abad will report to big-league camp and compete for a job on the 25-man roster.

The Phillies are likely to have an eight-man bullpen. The addition of Abad gives the Phillies four left-handed relief candidates. Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner and Zac Curtis are all on the 40-man roster. 

Morgan and Milner both shined in the second half of 2017. Morgan recorded a 1.69 ERA in 21 games over the final two months. He pitched 26 2/3 innings over that span, allowed just 16 hits and five runs, struck out 33 and walked six. Milner gave up just two runs in 21 2/3 innings over his last 27 games. He struck out 15 and managed to pitch around 12 walks. He was tough on lefty hitters (.159), but struggled against righties (.377). Curtis was a late-season waiver claim from Seattle. He pitched in just three games with the Phillies. 

Abad, 32, is an eight-year major-league veteran who has made stops in Houston, Washington, Oakland, Minnesota and Boston. He had a 3.30 ERA in 48 games with the Red Sox last season and lefties hit .227 off him.

From the right side, the Phillies have some bullpen depth with closer Hector Neris, veteran setup men Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, Luis Garcia and Edubray Ramos. Victor Arano, Ricardo Pinto, Yacksel Rios and Seranthony Dominquez are also on the 40-man roster. 

Dominguez hit 100 mph on the radar gun as a starter last season and is being converted to the bullpen. He is likely to open the season at Double A Reading, but “could be a quick mover,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

The list of bullpen candidates also includes two veterans on minor-league contracts: Pedro Beato and Francisco Rodriguez. The latter is a 16-year veteran who has racked up 437 saves – fourth-most all-time – in his career. Rodriguez was released by the Tigers and Nationals last summer and is trying to make the Phillies as a non-roster invitee to big-league camp.