Phillies

Best of MLB: Mookie Betts ties MLB record with 8 RBIs in leadoff spot as Red Sox rout Jays

Best of MLB: Mookie Betts ties MLB record with 8 RBIs in leadoff spot as Red Sox rout Jays

TORONTO -- Mookie Betts hit two home runs and matched a career-high with eight RBIs to help the Boston Red Sox rout the Toronto Blue Jays 15-1 on Sunday.

Betts went 4 for 6 as AL East-leading Boston won for the sixth time in seven games, completing the three-game sweep. He hit an RBI single in the second, a three-run homer in the fourth, a two-run blast in the sixth, and a two-run single in the seventh. It was the second multihomer game of the season for Betts, who also hit two at Philadelphia on June 14. Betts had eight RBIs against Arizona on Aug. 14, 2016.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Betts' eight RBIs are tied for the most ever by a leadoff hitter.

Drew Pomeranz (8-4) pitched six innings for his third straight road win.

Hanley Ramirez had three hits, including a two-run homer, as the Red Sox collected a season-high 21 hits.

Joe Biagini (2-8) took the loss as he was chased in the sixth inning by Betts' second homer (see full recap).

Harper homers twice, Scherzer dominates as Nats beat Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Bryce Harper homered twice against Carlos Martinez, Max Scherzer struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings and the Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 on Sunday night.

Harper also doubled and had four RBIs to pace Washington, which snapped a three-game skid and had lost five of seven.

The Cardinals had won four straight and six of seven overall, including series victories over the Arizona Diamondbacks and Nationals.

Scherzer (10-5) allowed two hits and two walks while lowering his major league-leading ERA to 1.94. Scherzer's double-digit strikeout performance was his 10th this season and 59th of his career.

Martinez (6-7) entered the game ranked fourth in the NL in ERA but allowed five runs in five innings (see full recap).

Belt leads Giants over Pirates 5-3 for 6th straight win
PITTSBURGH -- Brandon Belt started San Francisco's comeback with an RBI single in a three-run seventh inning, then added a two-run homer in the eighth as the Giants beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Sunday for their season-high sixth straight win.

Jordy Mercer's two-run homer in the third off Jeff Samardzija (4-9) put the Pirates ahead.

Trevor Williams took a two-hit shutout into the seventh, when Hunter Pence walked leading off and Buster Posey doubled. Belt and Brandon Crawford hit consecutive run-scoring singles off left-hander Tony Watson (4-2), and Kelby Tomlinson's sacrifice fly gave San Francisco a 3-2 lead.

Belt homered in the eighth off Edgar Santana, his 16th this season (see full recap).

Indians snap Verlander's streak in rout of Tigers
DETROIT -- Jose Ramirez homered twice, and the Cleveland Indians snapped Justin Verlander's decade-long streak of games with at least one strikeout, chasing the Detroit star in the fourth inning of an 11-8 win over the Tigers on Sunday.

Verlander (5-5) had struck out a batter in 331 consecutive appearances and was tied with Curt Schilling for the sixth-longest streak since 1913. He hadn't gone without a strikeout since April 28, 2007, when he lasted only three innings against Minnesota.

On Sunday, he allowed seven runs and nine hits with three walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Mike Clevinger (4-3) allowed a run and two hits in six innings. He walked five and struck out seven.

The Indians held on after Detroit scored six runs in the ninth inning, including homers by James McCann and Nicholas Castellanos. Cody Allen retired the final batter for his 16th save in 17 chances (see full recap).

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Roy Halladay had morphine in his system when the plane he was piloting crashed and he tragically died in November, according to Halladay's autopsy report, released Friday.

Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, and amphetamines were also found in Halladay's system.

As TMZ points out via the Food and Drug Administration, the amount of Zolpidem found in Halladay's system (72 ng/ml) is more than enough to impair a driver and increase the risk of an accident.

Halladay had a blood alcohol content of 0.01, according to the autopsy report. 

The official cause of Halladay's death was blunt force trauma, with drowning a contributing factor.

The crash took place on Nov. 7 in the Gulf of Mexico, with more details emerging in a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board two weeks later.

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

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AP Images/USA Today Images

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

It's not clear whether the Phillies will add a starting pitcher before opening day, but surely they would like to.

General manager Matt Klentak “is busting his ass every single day looking for every possible opportunity to upgrade our team from every perspective,” manager Gabe Kapler said on Tuesday. “That includes looking at every option possible for the rotation.”

Klentak has kept a close eye on the trade market, but has found the prices (i.e., the young talent that must be surrendered) for top, controllable starters to be prohibitive.

He has kept a close eye on the free-agent market, but the length of contracts that top pitchers are looking for has given him pause.

For months, the Phillies have distanced themselves from speculation that has connected them to elite level free-agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

But with spring training less than a month away and both pitchers still unsigned, the Phillies would at least have to consider both pitchers if their asking prices experience a January thaw.

Six or seven years? No way.

Three years? Hmmm. Let's talk.

The Phillies are hosting a number of their young players this week. Rhys Hoskins, Jerad Eickhoff, Mark Leiter and Nick Williams were all in town on Tuesday.

Williams has set his sights on making the National League All-Star team in 2018.

“That's what I'm shooting for,” he said at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. “I think I had a pretty good year last year. I'm shooting for more now. I don't think being an All-Star is shooting too high.”

Williams, 24, hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 83 games, mostly in right field, with the big club as a rookie last season.

To give himself the best chance of surpassing those numbers — and achieving his goal of making the All-Star team — Williams has spent the offseason in Austin, Texas, working with personal trainer Jeremy Hills, a former University of Texas football player.

Williams is working hard on agility, which will help him in the outfield and on the base paths.

And guess who one of his daily workout partners is?

Free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta.

Back in Austin, between reps and protein shakes, Williams has occasionally talked up Philadelphia as a potential landing spot to Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner who will turn 32 in March.

“He loves it here,” Williams said of Arrieta, who, as a free agent and a Scott Boras client, is astute enough not to rule out any team, particularly one as deep-pocketed as the Phillies. “He has told me he likes working with young guys. I'm like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I'm not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I'm not really in his position.”

Williams smiled.

“I hope to be one day,” he said.

Williams marveled at Arrieta's work ethic in the gym.

And he expressed gratitude for the kindness and generosity Arrieta has showed him.

“He's bought a lot of my protein shakes,” Williams said.

Time will tell if the Phillies add a starting pitcher to the group that already consists of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and other youngsters. The hunch is they will, though it's unclear what the magnitude of that talent will be. Klentak's search for an arm likely won't stop with the addition of one pitcher and it will likely continue through July. And beyond. The quest to build a championship-caliber staff never stops.

“The pursuit is very real,” Kapler said of Klentak's search for pitching. “I have a lot of trust that we'll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”