Phillies

Best of MLB: Gary Sanchez's 5 RBIs help Yankees beat Mets

usa-gary-sanchez.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Gary Sanchez's 5 RBIs help Yankees beat Mets

NEW YORK -- Gary Sanchez homered and matched a career high with five RBIs, Luis Severino got right back on track and the New York Yankees made it a four-game sweep in the Subway Series with a 7-5 victory Thursday night over the Mets.

Sanchez hit a three-run homer off struggling starter Steven Matz in the first inning and a two-run single in the fourth. Brett Gardner broke his 3-for-29 slump with a two-run double, and the Yankees won twice at Citi Field just as they did back home in the Bronx earlier this week.

Four games behind first-place Boston in the AL East, the Yankees begin a three-game series Friday night at Fenway Park. The Red Sox took two of three last weekend when the longtime rivals played at Yankee Stadium.

Curtis Granderson hit his seventh career grand slam off Bryan Mitchell in the ninth, pulling the Mets to 7-5. Dellin Betances was immediately summoned and got three quick outs for his eighth save (see full recap).

Zimmerman's homer lifts Nationals to win vs. Padres
SAN DIEGO -- Ryan Zimmerman homered with two outs in the eighth inning to lift the NL East-leading Washington Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

Zimmerman homered to right field on 1-1 pitch from Kirby Yates (2-4), who struck out the first two batters of the inning. It was Zimmerman's 29th. Yates then struck out Adam Lind to end the inning.

The homer was one of just four hits for Washington and made a winner of Edwin Jackson (4-2), who pitched for the Padres for part of last season. He allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked one. Jackson had been 0-6 lifetime against the Padres.

Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his 10th save.

The Padres were coming off a three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, the NL East cellar dwellers who have the worst record in the majors (see full recap).

Corbin goes 8 1/3 innings, Diamondbacks beat Astros
HOUSTON -- Patrick Corbin came within an out short of his first career shutout and first complete game since 2013 in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday.

After allowing a two-out double to Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the ninth, Corbin was pulled by Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. Archie Bradley took over on the mound and struck out Marwin Gonzalez.

Corbin (10-11) allowed four hits and one walk, struck out seven and threw just 105 pitches. After blanking the Chicago Cubs in 6 2/3 innings in his previous start, Corbin has 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

After scoring a combined 18 runs in consecutive wins over Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Astros' bats went cold in the final game of the four-game series, which was split between Arizona and Houston.

Arizona second baseman Daniel Descalso hit an inside-the-park home run off Astros starter Mike Fiers in the fourth inning on a deep drive that sailed over the head of center fielder Jake Marisnick and bounced off the wall away from him (see full recap).

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

ap-phillies-jerad-eickhoff.jpg
AP Images

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

usa-seranthony-dominguez.jpg
USA Today Images

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.”