Phillies

Best of MLB: Nationals sweep Braves behind Strasburg, Zimmerman

Best of MLB: Nationals sweep Braves behind Strasburg, Zimmerman

ATLANTA -- Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer, Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 and the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep with a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

A night after had 14 runs on 20 hits, the Nationals couldn't solve R.A. Dickey's knuckleball until Zimmerman homered in the sixth to erase a 2-1 deficit.

Strasburg (2-0) allowed two runs, six hits and two walks in seven innings, winning his first start at SunTrust Park after going 4-3 with a 4.37 ERA in 10 outings at Turner Field. Strasburg improved to 72-8 when the Nationals score at least three runs.

Shawn Kelley had an eventful ninth before earning his second save in three tries. He retired the first two batters before Kurt Suzuki singled and pinch-hitter Tyler Flowers walked. Ender Inciarte followed with a game-ending flyout (see full recap).

Sale's 13 Ks, Betts' 2B in 10th lead Red Sox over Jays 4-1
TORONTO -- Chris Sale struck out 13 over eight shutout innings, Mookie Betts hit a three-run double in the 10th and the Boston Red Sox beat the struggling Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Thursday.

At 3-12, Toronto is off to the worst start in team history and has lost its first five series for the first time.

Sandy Leon drew a one-out walk from Jason Grilli (0-2) in the 10th, and Brock Holt singled to stop an 0-for-12 slide. Andrew Benintendi walked with two outs, and Betts pulled a 2-0 fastball down the left-field line.

Mitch Moreland hit a two-out double in the ninth off Roberto Osuna and scored on Xander Bogaerts' single, but Kendrys Morales homered against Craig Kimbrel (1-0) leading off the bottom half, the eighth time Morales has tied a game or given his team a lead with a homer from the ninth inning on (see full recap).

Brewers hit 3 HRS, beat the Cardinals 7-5
MILWAUKEE -- Jett Bandy, Eric Thames and Travis Shaw each hit home runs to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 on Thursday night.

Bandy hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Thames put Milwaukee ahead with a two-run shot off Carlos Martinez (0-3) in the fifth. Shaw's three-run blast in the first made it 12 consecutive games going yard for the Brewers, who lead the majors with 32 home runs.

Zach Davies (1-2) allowed four runs on eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out five, but needed Thames' NL-leading eighth home run and seventh in the last eight games for his first win in four starts.

Jacob Barnes pitched the ninth for his first save of the season.

Matt Carpenter hit a solo home run in the top of the fifth and Kolten Wong, whose career-high seven triples led the Cardinals in 2016, hit his first of the season in the top of the second with the bases loaded (see full recap).

Orioles' Hardy singles in 10th for 2-1 win over Reds
CINCINNATI -- J.J. Hardy singled home the tiebreaking run in the 10th inning on Thursday night, and the Baltimore Orioles held on for a 2-1 victory and an interleague series win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Hardy fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches before driving in Mark Trumbo from second base with his single off Blake Wood (0-2). The Orioles took two of three in the series, leaving them 8-4 in interleague play against the Reds.

Three Orioles pitchers limited the Reds to two hits for the second night in a row. Cincinnati managed only two singles in a 2-0 loss on Wednesday night.

Darren O'Day (1-1) fanned two of the three batters he faced in the ninth. Brad Brach retired the side in the 10th for his second straight save, filling in while closer Zach Britton recovers from a sore forearm (see full recap).

MLB Notes: Braves lose 13 international players in sanctions

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MLB Notes: Braves lose 13 international players in sanctions

ATLANTA -- Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred hit the Atlanta Braves with heavy sanctions, including the loss of 13 players, on Tuesday for rules violations committed by the team in the international player market.

Manfred also placed former Braves general manager John Coppolella on the permanently ineligible list. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley, who was the team's international scouting chief, is suspended from performing services for any team for one year.

Manfred said an investigation conducted by Major League Baseball determined the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017 by moving bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Most notable among the players the Braves will lose is Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016 (see full story).

Yankees: Judge has left shoulder surgery
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees say slugger Aaron Judge had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder and is expected to be ready for spring training.

The operation was performed Monday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. The Yankees say the procedure involved a loose-body removal and cartilage cleanup.

The 25-year-old Judge hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 155 games this season, helping New York make it to the AL Championship Series, where they lost to the eventual World Series champion Astros. He was a unanimous selection for AL Rookie of the Year and finished second to Houston infielder Jose Altuve in the AL MVP race.

MLB: Morgan urges voters to keep steroid users out of HOF
Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep "known steroid users" out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball's steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall's board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

"Steroid users don't belong here," Morgan wrote. "What they did shouldn't be accepted. Times shouldn't change for the worse."

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions (see full story).

Cubs: Venable leaves front office to be base coach
CHICAGO -- Will Venable is leaving the Chicago Cubs front office to be their first base coach.

The former major league outfielder was hired last summer as a special assistant to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.

The 35-year-old Venable replaces Brandon Hyde, who has been promoted to bench coach for manager Joe Maddon.

The Cubs also announced Tuesday that they had hired Jim Benedict as a special assistant to baseball operations. Benedict spent the previous two seasons as the vice president for pitching development for the Miami Marlins.

Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

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Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

The Phillies added four promising pitching prospects to their 40-man roster on Monday. In a corresponding move, they subtracted a notable name.

Right-handers Franklyn Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Taveras and lefty Ranger Suarez were all added to the roster, protecting them from being selected by another club in next month's Rule 5 draft.

The Phillies also added an infielder, Engelb Vielma, to the roster. He was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.

To make room for these additions, the team needed to clear three spots on its roster, which had been at 38. Left-handed pitcher Elniery Garcia cleared waivers and was sent outright to the minor leagues while right-handers Alberto Tirado and Mark Appel were designated for assignment. The Phillies will try to trade Tirado and Appel before placing them on waivers. If they clear waivers, they could stay in the system.

The Phillies cut Appel loose after he'd struggled with injury and ineffectiveness during two seasons in the organization. The 26-year-old right-hander from Stanford University had twice been a first-round draft pick, by Pittsburgh in 2012 and by Houston — No. 1 overall — in 2013. The Phillies acquired him from the Astros as part of the package for Ken Giles in December 2015, but he never lived up to his huge potential.

"A lot of the tools that Mark showed as an amateur that led to him being the No. 1 overall pick are still there," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "He has simply struggled with performance. It's certainly not for lack of effort on his part. We think the world of the kid and wish him well. It was a tough decision."

Tirado, 22, was acquired from Toronto in July 2015 as part of the return for Ben Revere. He arrived with a fastball that could reach triple digits on the radar gun and that promise earned him a spot on the 40-man a year ago. Tirado suffered a shoulder injury early last season and struggled in the minors.

All four of the pitchers that the Phillies protected are products of the team's international scouting department. Taveras, 24, was a standout at three levels in the minors last season and could be in the picture in Philadelphia in 2018. He led the system in strikeouts in 2016 and 2017.

"He knows how to get guys out and often times that comes via the strikeout," Klentak said. "No matter where he pitches, he rises to the occasion and puts up a strong performance."

Kilome, 22, and Dominguez, 22, are both power arms who project to see significant time at Double A in 2018. Suarez, 22, should also get to Double A at some point in 2018. He had a 2.27 ERA in 22 starts at two levels of Single A ball in 2017.

"He may have been the breakout pitcher of the year for the Phillies," Klentak said. "We'd always heard a lot about him and this year he took his performance to another level.

"We're really excited for all four of these guys. All have worked extremely hard and they are all deserving of being added to our roster. Our international scouting operation, Sal Agostinelli and his group, continues to crank out players. They've done a great job. These four pitchers have earned this through their work ethic and performance. By no means is this the ultimate goal for them, but it's one step closer. We believe really strongly in the futures of these four pitchers."

Vielma, 23, is a top defensive shortstop who can also play second and third base. He was waived by Minnesota in September and claimed by the Giants, who let him go in a roster crunch.

"He's an intriguing claim," Klentak said. "He adds depth to our infield."

The Phillies’ roster is at 40. The team will have to clear space if it wants to add a player in next month's Rule 5 draft. Last November, the Phils added 11 players to the 40-man roster and still lost lefty reliever Hoby Milner to Cleveland. Milner failed to make the Indians' opening-day roster, returned to the organization in March and ended up making 37 appearances for the big club after coming up in late June. He was one of 12 rookies to make their big-league debut with the Phillies in 2017.

Notable players who were not protected include outfielders Carlos Tocci and Andrew Pullin and pitcher Brandon Leibrandt.

"One of the byproducts of a strong system is every year there are some tough omissions," Klentak said. "There are always tough calls. But we look at that as a good problem to have."