Best of MLB: Jose Ramirez's 5 extra-base hits help Indians to 11th straight win

USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Jose Ramirez's 5 extra-base hits help Indians to 11th straight win

DETROIT -- Jose Ramirez tied a major league record with five extra-base hits, including a pair of home runs that deflected off Detroit outfielders, and the Cleveland Indians routed the Tigers 11-1 Sunday for their 11th straight victory.

Ramirez had three doubles in becoming the 13th player with five extra-base hits in a game. Kris Bryant of the Cubs did it last year, and the previous Cleveland player to accomplish the feat was Kelly Shoppach in 2008.

The AL Central-leading Indians have their longest winning streak since a team-record 14-game run last year. Ramirez went 5 for 5, driving in three runs and scoring three.

Ramirez hit a strange solo homer in the first. The ball hit the yellow padding on top of the left-field fence, caromed straight in the air and bounced off the padding and back into play. As left fielder Mikie Mahtook tried to grab it with his bare hand, he knocked over the fence.

In the sixth, right fielder Alex Presley reached above the fence for Ramirez's drive and ball bounced out of his glove and over the wall.

Ramirez hit a leadoff double in the eighth and Giovanny Urshela pinch ran. Urshela batted in the ninth (see full recap).

Diamondbacks top Rockies, 5-1, for 10th straight win
DENVER -- Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury homered in a three-run sixth to bolster a strong outing by Zack Godley and the Arizona Diamondbacks extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

This is the Diamondbacks' longest winning streak since they captured a franchise-best 12 straight in 2003.

Godley (7-7) allowed three hits, walked six and struck out seven over six innings to help Arizona sweep a three-game series from the Rockies. The Diamondbacks increased their lead over Colorado for the top NL wild-card spot to 6 1/2 games. The slumping Rockies saw their lead over Milwaukee for the second wild card trimmed to just a half-game.

Tied at 1 in the sixth, Marte lined a slider from German Marquez (10-6) over the fence in left for his first homer since July 29. Drury later followed with a two-run shot off Marquez, who allowed four runs over six innings and struck out nine (see full recap).

Astros sweep Mets in first series in Houston since Hurricane Harvey
HOUSTON -- Cameron Maybin hit a three-run homer, George Springer connected for the second straight day and the Houston Astros beat the New York Mets 8-6 on Sunday for a sweep of their weekend series.

Josh Reddick added two hits and three RBIs for the Astros, who won both games of a doubleheader on Saturday in their first home games since flooding from Hurricane Harvey devastated the city.

Houston trailed 4-1 before pushing across five runs in the third. Carlos Correa hit an RBI single in his return from the disabled list. Reddick also singled in a run before Maybin connected for his first homer since he was claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.

Cubs lose Baez, game to Braves as win streak halted at 5
CHICAGO -- Max Fried combined with four relievers on a five-hitter in his first major league start, and the Atlanta Braves ended the Chicago Cubs' six-game winning streak with a 5-1 victory Sunday.

The NL Central-leading Cubs had matched their longest winning string of the season. Rookie Ian Happ hit his 21st homer, but Chicago couldn't get much going coming off a 14-12 victory.

The Cubs also lost Javier Baez after he got shaken up diving into second base in the second inning. Chicago's electrifying star trotted out to shortstop in the third but exited the game with one out.

Recalled from Triple-A on Friday, Fried (1-0) gave up a run and four hits in five innings. The bullpen held Chicago to one hit, helping the Braves avoid the weekend sweep.

Mike Montgomery (5-7) gave up three runs and five hits in five innings (see full recap).

Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

AP Images

Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Spectrum Field was sold out, filled with fans clad in green and smeared with sunblock for a game against the Atlanta Braves on a festive St. Paddy’s Day.
But the main event Saturday took place several hundred yards away at the minor-league complex, two hours before the big-league game even began.
Five days after signing a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies, Jake Arrieta climbed atop a mound and threw a 31-pitch (two-inning) simulated game. Scott Kingery, Jorge Alfaro, Logan Moore and Andrew Pullin were the hitters. Andrew Knapp was the catcher. Players, coaches, minor-league instructors and manager Gabe Kapler all peeked in. Dozens of fans hugged the chain-link fence to get a look at the newest Phillie. They applauded when Arrieta took the mound and again when he finished.
“It was great,” the 32-year-old pitcher said moments after the workout ended. “There’s a lot of people out here. A lot of people are excited for the Phillies in 2018. We’ve got a lot of good things going on here. A lot of guys are healthy and competing, there’s a lot of youth. It’s a really fun time to be in this organization.”
Arrieta said he felt “really good physically,” not a surprise because he came into camp in terrific shape and had gotten to over 60 pitches in bullpen sessions back home in Austin, Texas. He threw all his pitches, including a couple of knee-buckling curveballs. He broke two of Alfaro’s bats, one with a sinker, one with a cutter.
“My goal was to throw everything in the arsenal for strikes and throw my off-speed pitches in and out of the zone where I could get some chases,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta did allow some contact, mostly ground balls.
Arrieta won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Cubs. He won 22 games and had a 1.77 ERA that season.
A deceptive delivery is one of Arrieta’s strengths. He throws across his body and that crossfire action makes it difficult for a hitter to pick up the ball.
“It’s extremely deceptive,” Kingery said. “Every pitch is extremely deceptive. That’s what hit me. His curveball looks like it’s coming at your head then it drops.”
Arrieta is still hoping to be ready for the first week of the regular season, but the Phillies have not formulated a firm game plan. One thing is certain: They won’t rush him. They want him for the long haul. They could hold him back 10 days or so, allowing him to build more arm strength, and he’d still make 30 starts.
Arrieta expects to throw a bullpen session in the next day or two and try to get up around 60 pitches in his next outing. That could be in a minor-league game or in another simulated game.
“As long as we continue to get my pitch count up, I think I’ll be fine going into the season,” he said.

Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

AP Images

Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies signed free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta earlier this week.

That's probably going to be the extent of their pitching additions for now.

Jerad Eickhoff is out until at least May with a strained right lat muscle and that creates a sizable hole in the Phillies rotation.

The hole is likely to be filled internally, according to general manager Matt Klentak. The team is not likely to make a run at Alex Cobb, who remains on the free-agent market.

"I doubt it," Klentak said when asked if he would look outside the organization to fill Eickhoff's spot. "I don't think we have to. I think a lot of our guys have shown very well in camp. They have gotten their pitch counts up, they're getting to the point of being fully stretched out.

"More than anything, I think we're going to have some tough decisions on figuring out who is in the rotation, who is in the bullpen, who goes into the Triple-A rotation, who goes into the Double-A rotation. We've got a lot of tough decisions to make on that front, but I don't think we're in a position where we have to go outside. We have a lot of candidates to take the ball at the big league level so we'll be fine."

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. Arrieta will be in the rotation, though he might need an extra week or so to get ready. Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are likely to hold down spots. That leaves Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr., Jake Thompson, Drew Hutchison and Tom Eshelman in the running for the final spot in the five-man rotation. Eshelman, strike-thrower extraordinaire, was the Phillies' minor-league pitcher of the year last year and projects to be in Philadelphia before long. However, it might not be at the outset of the season because he is not on the 40-man roster. Neither is Hutchison.

The Phillies do not need a fifth starter until April 11 so they could employ some creative roster construction until then. They could go with four starters and an extra reliever or bench man. Or they could bring an extra starter and "piggyback" him with Arrieta, a move that would allow Arrieta to make an abbreviated start during the first week of the season.

"There's a decent chance we open the season with somewhat of a non-traditional 25-man roster, not because we're trying to be cute but because we don't need the fifth starter until the 11th," Klentak said. "We're going to do whatever puts us in the best position to win those first 10 days of the season."

The Phillies made one transaction on Friday. They added utility man Pedro Florimon to the 40-man roster. He had a provision in his minor-league contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn't on the 40-man roster by March 15. Florimon is a candidate for a spot on the Phillies' bench. The move doesn't guarantee that Florimon will win a spot, but it gives the team more time to evaluate him. To make room for Florimon, the Phillies designated infielder Eliezer Alvarez for assignment.

Florimon homered in the Phillies' 6-4 loss to Toronto in Clearwater Friday. Cam Rupp and Cesar Hernandez also homered. Velasquez gave up five hits and a run in 2⅔ innings. He struck out five.

In Lakeland, Pivetta allowed two runs over five innings as the Phils and Tigers played to a 6-6 tie. J.P. Crawford and Ryan Flaherty both homered.