Phillies

Best of MLB: Astros pound out 19 hits, 17 runs in win over Twins

Best of MLB: Astros pound out 19 hits, 17 runs in win over Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- George Springer reached base in all six plate appearances and hit two of Houston's season-high six home runs to lead the Astros to their seventh straight victory, 17-6 over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.

Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez also went deep for the Astros, who scored 40 runs in the three games to set a franchise record for runs in a series of any length. They had 19 hits on Wednesday and 37 in the series.

Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario and Jason Castro homered for the Twins, who have lost four straight. Hector Santiago (4-5) gave up six runs on eight hits and walked three in six innings, three days after he was an emergency fill-in during the 15th inning of a loss to Tampa Bay (see full recap).

Owings helps D-backs beat Pirates in 14 innings
PITTSBURGH -- Chris Owings singled home the go-ahead run in the 14th inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 on Wednesday in a game that took more than 4 1/2 hours to play -- plus a 93-minute rain delay.

Paul Goldschmidt and Nick Ahmed homered for the Diamondbacks, who led in the ninth and 11th before finally putting away the Pirates. T.J. McFarland (3-0) pitched three hitless innings for the win.

Ahmed hit a solo shot in the 11th but Jordy Mercer tied the score in the bottom half with a home run of his own as steady showers began to fall. The game was delayed by rain after the 11th inning for 1 hour, 33 minutes.

David Peralta singled off Jhan Marinez (0-3) to start the 14th and advanced to second on Goldschmidt's groundout. Jake Lamb was intentionally walked, and Owings singled to right field (see full recap).

Fowler HR lifts Cardinals over Dodgers
ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler hit tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning to back Carlos Martinez and give the St. Louis Cardinals a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday night.

Martinez (4-4) allowed one run on four hits while striking out nine as he pitched into the eighth inning for his third consecutive start to help St. Louis snap a three-game losing streak.

Ross Stripling (0-3) lost for the first time since April 26 as he surrendered Fowler's seventh home run of the season, a 429-foot shot to right-center field. The Dodgers saw their six-game winning streak end.

Seung-Hwan Oh pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save in 14 opportunities this season.

Hyun-Jin Ryu returned to the rotation in place of Alex Wood after earning the save last Wednesday, May 24 versus St. Louis in his first career relief appearance. Ryu allowed one run on three hits in six innings in his first start since May 11 at Colorado (see full recap).

Gabe Kapler going with a 'stud' as Phillies' opening day starter

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Gabe Kapler going with a 'stud' as Phillies' opening day starter

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CLEARWATER, Fla. — Gabe Kapler got one of the rites of spring out of the way Sunday. He named his opening day starting pitcher. Not surprisingly, it is the Phillies’ best starter. Aaron Nola will take the mound March 29 in Atlanta.

“I’ll tell you, it’s Aaron Nola,” Kapler said after the right-hander’s spring debut in an 8-3 loss to the Yankees. “It’s going to be Aaron Nola, barring anything crazy happening. He’s our guy. He's the man. He's our opening day starter. He’s earned it. He’s unequivocally the right choice. He’s an absolute gamer, a grinder and a stud and we’re proud to have him.”

Nola, 24, will be the Phillies’ youngest opening day starter since Dennis Bennett in 1964. Nola departed before Kapler’s announcement. Earlier in the day, he said getting the opening day nod “would mean a lot.” He added, “But there’s a lot of games and I plan on pitching a lot of them.”

After making the announcement, Kapler was asked if he would stay with that plan if the Phillies landed a big-name starting pitcher. It’s no secret that the club would like to sign former NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta — if he’d be willing to take a short-term deal. There’s a feeling around baseball that the longer Arrieta remains unsigned, the better chance his road would lead to Philadelphia.

“Yes,” Kapler said in response to the question. “As of this moment, Aaron Nola is our opening day starter.”

Nola returned from an elbow injury in 2017 and struck out 9.88 batters per nine innings in 27 starts last season. His 3.54 ERA ranked 20th in the majors. He had 12 ultra-quality starts — seven innings or more, two or fewer earned runs. Only Clayton Kershaw (16) and Max Scherzer (14) had more.

“His performance lines up nicely with the Scherzers of the world, not far off (Zack) Grienke,” Kapler said. “He is a real stud, someone we can depend on.”

Nola worked two innings Sunday. He gave up four hits, but one was a ball that Maikel Franco lost in the sun. Had Franco made the play, Nola eventually would have gotten out of the first inning. Instead, he was charged with three runs. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.

“It was really impressive to see that horizontal curveball and the life on his fastball,” Kapler said. “His curveball has the most east-west break in baseball. You can see it make a sharp left turn out of his hand.

“The results are not representative of his work today. His work was outstanding.”

Nola said his goal this season was to make every start and pitch 200 innings. He believes the Phillies can contend.

“Everybody still thinks we’re in the rebuilding stage, but I don’t think anyone in here doesn't think we’re going to compete,” he said. “We’re definitely going to be better than last year.”

And if the Phillies can add someone like Arrieta?

“That’s not our decision,” Nola said. “That’s the big guys’ decision. It would definitely be good to get another veteran. It’s always good to have veterans because for us younger guys it’s good to learn from them. They’ve been in our shoes before.”

At career crossroads, 'fearless' Middlebrooks vows comeback from injury

At career crossroads, 'fearless' Middlebrooks vows comeback from injury

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Will Middlebrooks wears a bracelet on his left wrist that says fearless. That is the way he likes to play and it is the way he was playing when he suffered a broken leg – and maybe more – Saturday afternoon.
 
“As soon as you don’t take chances you don’t know how good you can be,” Middlebrooks said upon returning to the Phillies' clubhouse on crutches and with a cast on his leg Sunday.
 
Middlebrooks, 29, broke his left fibula in a collision with outfielder Andrew Pullin in Saturday’s game against the Orioles. Middlebrooks was playing third base when he sprinted back after a soft fly ball to left. He slid trying to make a catch and his leg bent awkwardly under the hard-charging Pullin. Middlebrooks was to see a specialist on Sunday. More tests are planned to determine whether he sustained damage to the ligaments in his ankle, as well.
 
“It was just a freak play,” Middlebrooks said. “I had a good talk with Pully about it. He was distraught. I was at the hospital yesterday, got his number and texted him. I told him everything was fine, you didn’t do anything wrong. It was just one of those plays.”
 
Middlebrooks, who has played in the majors with Boston, San Diego, Milwaukee and Texas, is in camp with the Phillies on a minor-league contract. He appeared to be a long shot to make the big-league team as a reserve corner infielder and likely would have provided depth at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He will likely need surgery to repair the injury. No timetable was given for his recovery, but he will be out for a significant amount of time.
 
In one breath, Middlebrooks conceded that the injury could threaten his career.
 
“Yeah, the game is getting younger every day,” he said. “I’ll be 30 this year. Unfortunately, that’s not prime anymore. You look in this clubhouse and everyone is 23, 24 years old. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind.”
 
In the next, he promised to be back on the field this year.
 
“In the small window of time I’ve spent here with the staff and the training staff, I think I’ll be fine,” he said. “If it takes two months, if it takes four or five months, I don’t know how long it will take. I’m not counting myself out. I plan on playing this year.”
 
The Phillies are looking for versatility in filling out their bench. Middlebrooks is one of four veteran infielders with big-league experience in camp on a minor-league deal. Pedro Florimon, Ryan Flaherty and Adam Rosales are the others. Jesmuel Valentin and Scott Kingery, both members of the 40-man roster, are also in camp. Kingery is expected to open the season at Triple A.