Phillies

Best of MLB: Indians set franchise record with 15th straight win

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USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Indians set franchise record with 15th straight win

CHICAGO -- The Cleveland Indians set a franchise record with their 15th consecutive win Thursday night, beating the Chicago White Sox 11-2 behind another terrific outing for Corey Kluber.

Cleveland also belted five homers while becoming the first major league team with a 15-game winning streak since Oakland won 20 in a row in 2002. Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run drive in the first and Francisco Lindor connected in the second to help the Indians get off to a fast start.

Kluber (15-4) struck out 13 in seven innings. Yolmer Sanchez and Jose Abreu homered in the first for Chicago, but Kluber allowed only one more hit for the rest of his outing (see full recap).

Yankees crush 4 homers to beat Orioles
BALTIMORE -- Aaron Judge and Chase Headley hit two-run homers, Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier added solo shots and the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-1 Thursday for their first series win at Camden Yards in four years.

Didi Gregorius had three hits and scored twice for the Yankees, who closed within 3 1/2 games of AL East-leading Boston and fortified their grip on the top AL wild card.

Sonny Gray (9-9) gave up one unearned run and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander is 3-4 since he was acquired by New York in a July 31 trade with Oakland (see full recap).

Braves rally for walk-off win over Marlins
ATLANTA -- Kurt Suzuki capped a two-run rally in the ninth inning when his lined single past third base drove in Freddie Freeman and lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Miami Marlins 6-5 on Thursday night.

Miami left-hander Brad Ziegler (1-4) gave up a leadoff double to pinch-hitter Matt Adams in the ninth. Pinch-runner Nick Markakis moved to third on Ender Inciarte's groundout to first and scored easily on Ozzie Albies' double to right-center, leaving Ziegler with the blown save, his fourth in 13 chances.

Freeman was given an intentional walk and moved to second on Lane Adams' grounder before Suzuki lined the winning hit past Brian Anderson at third base.

Ichiro Suzuki gave Miami a 5-4 lead when he dropped a pinch-hit single into shallow left field in the eighth, driving in Anderson.

Rex Brothers (3-3) struck out the side in the ninth (see full recap).

Jake Arrieta ain't happening, Phillies fans

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Jake Arrieta ain't happening, Phillies fans

ORLANDO — Throughout this entire offseason, Phillies officials have privately said that they will not be players for top free-agent starting pitchers seeking long contracts and huge paydays.

It's not that the Phillies can't do it. This is the same ownership group that signed free agent Cliff Lee to a mega-deal a few years ago, the same ownership group that gave Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard huge extensions.

Money is not an issue for this team. 

The Phillies will spend big again someday soon — GM Matt Klentak talked about that Monday — but the time is not right, at least when it comes to signing free-agent pitchers on the other side of age 30 whose impressive career track records have included some recent blips in performance and the occasional health concern.

Back in October, club president Andy MacPhail talked about the downside of signing these types of pitchers and the dangers of paying for what he called "past performance." He went on to stress something that he has stressed since he arrived in Philadelphia in the summer of 2015 — the need to develop your own pitchers.

Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish are the top two starting pitchers on this winter's free-agent market. Both are over the age of 30. Both are seeking big-money, long-term deals. Phillies officials, while expressing respect for both pitchers, have privately rejected the idea of pursuing either this winter.

And, yet, on Day 2 of the winter meetings Tuesday, a breathless rumor surfaced that the Phillies were considering Arrieta. A Phillies official privately scoffed at the rumor, which surfaced a day after ESPN reported that Arrieta was seeking a deal of $180 million to $200 million.

Again, it's not that the Phillies can't afford Arrieta. It's that his age — he'll pitch at 32 next season — does not make him a great fit for a young Phillies team that still has miles to go on its development curve.

"There will come a time when we are one piece away and that one piece is a fill in the blank — starting pitcher, closer, cleanup hitter — and in that moment, when we feel that we are one piece away, or two pieces away, that's when we open up the wallet and we go do what we need to do," Klentak said Monday.

Now, if the Baltimore Orioles are serious about trading Manny Machado this winter, we expect the Phillies to be right in it. They love Machado and his age — 25 — fits nicely into the Phillies' plan of developing a young core. It's extremely doubtful that the Phillies would give up Sixto Sanchez or Scott Kingery, but they'd listen on other players, provided they could get Machado signed to an extension.

The Phillies are looking to add starting pitching this winter and they have lots of money. So linking Arrieta to the Phillies makes sense, especially for those interested in driving up his market. We don’t doubt that Arrieta's name may have come up in passing in conversations between the Phillies and his agent, Scott Boras. Maybe that qualifies as "considering." But this is a deal that ain't happening.

Even with eye on top talent like Manny Machado, Phillies will give core more time

Even with eye on top talent like Manny Machado, Phillies will give core more time

ORLANDO, Fla. — On Day 1 of the winter meetings Monday, the Phillies' longstanding interest in Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado bubbled to the surface once again. The subject will continue to percolate all winter and beyond as the Orioles mull whether to trade the star player or let him play out the 2018 season, his final one before free agency.

It makes much more sense for the Phillies to try to sign Machado as a free agent next winter rather than surrender prospects — and ultimately big cash in the form of an extension — for him this winter. But if the Orioles create a market for Machado this winter, the Phillies will be in on it. At the moment, all is quiet.

It's no secret that the Phillies have deep pockets and no secret that they will spend big on top talent like Machado once their rebuild gets into the red zone. Klentak confirmed that again on Monday.

"There will come a time when we are one piece away and that one piece is a fill in the blank — starting pitcher, closer, cleanup hitter — and in that moment, when we feel that we are one piece away, or two pieces away, that's when we open up the wallet and we go do what we need to do," he said.

"But for right now, we are on the cusp of getting to where we want to go, to developing this next young core. This is what happened with (Jimmy) Rollins and (Chase) Utley and (Ryan) Howard and (Cole) Hamels. We need to give these guys a chance to become that next group."

The Phillies showed improvement in the second half of last season. They went 38-38 over the final 76 games. Klentak wants to give the team's core the chance to continue its improvement in 2018.

"The most important thing we can do next year is let this young core develop and get the reps that they need to continue their improvement," Klentak said.

"We scored almost a full run more per game in the second half than we did in the first half. That was driven by (Nick) Williams, (Rhys) Hoskins, (J.P.) Crawford and (Jorge) Alfaro joining Cesar (Hernandez), Freddy (Galvis), (Maikel) Franco, Odubel (Herrera), (Aaron) Altherr, (Andrew) Knapp. That's exciting to me. Not only do we need to let that play out, we want to let that play out. 

"We want to see what that group can do now that they're more than three months into their major-league careers. What can they do in their first full season? Or their second full season? Baseball aging curves tell us that these players are likely to get better. How much better? We don't know. But we're only going to find out if we let them play."