Best of MLB: Jake Odorizzi, Lucas Duda help Rays stay in thick of wild-card hunt

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Best of MLB: Jake Odorizzi, Lucas Duda help Rays stay in thick of wild-card hunt

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jake Odorizzi took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in front of a tiny home crowd, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Lucas Duda homered and drove in both runs for the Rays, who improved to .500 on the season and got within two games of Minnesota for the second AL wild card.

Joe Mauer got the Twins' first hit -- and extended his hitting streak to 14 games -- with a grounder that caromed off second base with one out in the seventh. Odorizzi (8-7) was lifted for reliever Dan Jennings after striking out the next batter, Jorge Polanco.

The only other batter to reach base against Odorizzi was Eddie Rosario, who walked leading off the fifth.

The game was played before a crowd of 6,509, the smallest-ever announced attendance for a Rays home game. Nearly 400 fewer fans attended last Wednesday's relocated game between the Astros and Rangers at Tropicana Field (see full recap).

Pirates rally past Cubs for 4th straight win
PITTSBURGH -- Max Moroff and David Freese delivered RBI singles off Carl Edwards Jr. in the eighth inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied past the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Tuesday night.

John Jaso led off the eighth with a pinch-hit walk then later scored when Moroff hit a bloop single to left off Edwards (3-4) to tie the game. Freese drove home Moroff three batters later after the Cubs intentionally walked Pirates rookie Josh Bell.

Jordan Luplow hit the second home run of his career for Pittsburgh. Wade LeBlanc (5-2) earned the win in relief. Felipe Rivero worked a perfect ninth for his 18th save. The Pirates ran their winning streak to four on the same day the club announced contract extensions for manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington.

Ian Happ had a two-run single for Chicago. Alberto Almora Jr. and Kris Bryant had two hits apiece but the Cubs left eight men on base to drop their third consecutive game (see full recap).

Jones, Hicks blast 2 homers each in Tigers’ victory
DETROIT -- JaCoby Jones and John Hicks hit two home runs and the Detroit Tigers had six homers in all in a 13-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.

Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez threw only five pitches and was knocked out of the game in the first inning after getting hit by Whit Merrifield's single in the right leg. Sanchez, who was charged with one earned run when Merrifield later scored, left the game with a calf injury.

Reliever Myles Jaye (1-0) replaced Sanchez and pitched 2 1/3 innings. He allowed one hit, two walks and a wild pitch, leaving in the third inning with the Tigers holding a 7-1 lead.

Jason Vargas (14-10) took the loss, allowing seven earned runs and six hits, a walk and a hit batter in two innings of work (see full recap).

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

Photo: NBCSP

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, has been noticeably absent from game action in minor-league camp.

Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, says there's nothing to be alarmed about.

"He had the flu and he's over it now," Jordan said. "He's fine now. No issues. He's 100 percent."

Jordan said Sanchez got up to 30 pitches in a bullpen session this week.

"He let it go with all his pitches," Jordan said.

Jordan added that Sanchez would pitch in a game in the next few days. He added that Sanchez would open the season on time with the Clearwater club, though his innings will be watched at the outset until he's fully stretched out.

Sanchez, 19, is a power-armed right-hander with remarkable control. He went 5-7 with 3.03 ERA in 18 starts at Lakewood and Clearwater, both Single A affiliates, last season. He pitched 95 innings, struck out 84, walked 18 and had a WHIP of 0.958.

Phillies take long look at Roman Quinn as potential backup SS

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Phillies take long look at Roman Quinn as potential backup SS


FORT MYERS, Fla. — However the Phillies’ bench shapes up — whether it features four or five men during the first week of the regular season — one thing is a must:

“We need somebody who can play shortstop, absolutely,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

“We need someone who can play multiple positions in the infield on our bench and someone who can play multiple positions in our outfield on the bench. That’s a necessity.”

Kapler has taken a long look at Roman Quinn at shortstop the last two days. Quinn played four innings there Sunday against the Twins. He was there for the entire game Monday against the Red Sox.

Quinn grew up playing shortstop and outfield. He broke into pro ball as a shortstop but moved to center field during the 2014 season, when it became clear that J.P. Crawford was the shortstop of the future. Now, Quinn is relearning the shortstop position so he can potentially serve as a utility man on the Phillies’ bench. He’d be an intriguing talent to have on the bench because he’s a switch-hitter with electrifying speed.

As a shortstop, the Phillies won’t be looking for Quinn to be a Gold Glover. They need someone to make the play on an emergency or fill-in basis. Quinn made three plays in Monday’s game. He short-hopped one throw and Carlos Santana made the pick. He knocked down one ball, recovered and made a strong throw for an out. He made a nice play on a groundball while shifted behind second. It wasn't the prettiest exhibition, but it got the job done.

“The more I play there, the more comfortable I’m getting,” Quinn said. “I’m enjoying it. I’d like to think I can play any position. It’s fun coming in from center field and playing shortstop. I love it.”

Quinn turns 25 in May. Some schools of thought might come down against carrying a player of his potential as a reserve. Certainly, more time in Triple A would not hurt him, especially after missing more than three months with an elbow injury last year. But the Phillies are open to the possibility of carrying Quinn. His shortstop audition the last two days has made that clear.

“Everyday reps at the minor-league level are incredibly valuable,” Kapler said. “However, because a guy is on the bench at the major-league level doesn’t mean his development is stunted. He’s getting a different kind of experience and a really valuable experience.”

Tom Eshelman was charged with four runs in the bottom of the ninth as the Phils squandered a three-run lead and lost, 6-5, to Boston.

Aaron Altherr drove in four runs. He belted a three-run homer in the fifth inning against Boston ace Chris Sale. Cesar Hernandez grinded out a long at-bat before striking out and Santana and Rhys Hoskins both walked before the home run.

“When you have a guy like Sale, making him work is critical,” Kapler said. “Cesar’s punchout was an incredible at-bat. Santana and Hoskins made him work. [Sale] gets a little fatigued and Altherr gets a pitch to whack. So Altherr hitting a home run doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens as a result of team baseball.”