Phillies

Best of MLB: Rangers blitz Astros in opener of series relocated for storm

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AP Images

Best of MLB: Rangers blitz Astros in opener of series relocated for storm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Shin-Soo Choo homered and drove in four runs Tuesday night, helping the Texas Rangers rout the Astros 12-2 in the opener of a series relocated to Florida due to flooding in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Adrian Beltre of the Rangers drove in three runs to pass Hall of Famer Ernie Banks for 28th on the career RBI list with 1,637 while Joey Gallo hit a two-run homer off Mike Fiers (8-9) before an announced crowd of 3,485 at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The three-game series that concludes Thursday was moved from Minute Maid Park because of flooding in the Houston area, with the Astros serving as the home team after the Rangers declined a proposal to play the games in Arlington, Texas.

It's only the fourth time in major league history that games have been relocated to neutral sites because of weather (see full recap).

Sale fans 11 as Red Sox shut out Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Chris Sale and two relievers combined on a four-hitter, Hanley Ramirez hit a solo home run and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 on Tuesday night.

Sale (15-6) fanned 11 in his ML-best 17th double-digit strikeout game, raising his league-leading total to 264. His 15 wins lead the AL.

Sale, who matched a season-worst by allowing seven runs in his previous outing, pitched seven innings. The left-hander has not allowed a run in 22 innings against the Blue Jays this season.

After Toronto DH Kendrys Morales hit a one-out double in the second inning, Sale retired 17 consecutive batters before Morales singled to begin the eighth.

Kevin Pillar chased Sale with a single, and Addison Reed came on to strike out pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera and Miguel Montero. Ryan Goins singled to load the bases for Steve Pearce, but he grounded into a fielder's choice.

Craig Kimblrel finished for his 31st save in 35 chances.

Toronto has lost nine of 11 (see full recap).

Nationals top Marlins despite Stanton’s 51st HR
WASHINGTON -- Giancarlo Stanton tied a major league record with his 18th home run in August, but Anthony Rendon had four RBIs and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 8-3 on Tuesday night.

Stanton hit a long homer in the first inning off Edwin Jackson (5-3), his 51st this season, to open the scoring following a 26-minute rain delay. His August output matched the mark set by Rudy York with the Detroit Tigers in 1937. Sammy Sosa set the record for homers in a month when he hit 20 in June 1998, and Stanton has two games left this month to catch the former Cubs slugger.

Stanton added an RBI with a deep sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.

Rendon's three-run double in the seventh came after Washington's bullpen thwarted a rally earlier in the inning. Daniel Murphy also had a two-run single.

The Nationals, 16-7 since Aug. 6, had five runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings against Vance Worley (2-4) (see full recap).

Carlos Santana is ready to show Maikel Franco the way

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NBC Sports Philadelphia/AP Images

Carlos Santana is ready to show Maikel Franco the way

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The numbering is a little off in the Phillies’ spring training clubhouse. Usually lockers are assigned in numerical sequence, clockwise around the room. But this spring, No. 41 comes immediately after No. 7.

Why?

Because that’s the way Carlos Santana wanted it.

“I told the team that I wanted Maikel Franco right next to me,” the new first baseman said after his first workout with the club Saturday. “That's something that I wanted. I really like him. He's a special kid. I appreciate him a lot. And, not only him, the whole group is nice. But I really want to work with him and help him out.”

Santana, 31, and Franco, 25, are both natives of the Dominican Republic. They bonded this winter. After Santana signed with the Phillies in December, he worked out at the Phillies' academy in the DR with Franco.

It’s no secret this is a big year for Franco (see story). He needs to finally put together his potential or the team may look elsewhere – hello, Manny Machado – for its next third baseman.

Franco’s big area of need is Santana’s area of strength: Plate discipline. Santana walks almost as much as he strikes out. He has registered a career on-base percentage of .365 while averaging 24 homers over the last seven seasons. Franco has pop – he has hit 25 and 24 homers, respectively, the last two seasons – but his career on-base percentage is just .300 after a dip to .281 last season.

Santana has reached at least 100 walks twice in his career and at least 91 four other times. Franco had a career-best 41 walks last season.

Santana praised Victor Martinez for being a mentor to him early in his career. “That’s why I wear No. 41,” he said. Santana wants to be Franco’s Victor Martinez.

“We’re going to work together every single day,” Santana said. “We’re going to make sure he executes the plan he wants to follow. I know he’s a guy that’s very talented and he’s capable of a lot. So I’m going to be there. I’m committed to helping him. I’m going to be in the cage, hitting as many balls as possible. He already told me today that he wants to follow me everywhere he goes. If I have to go to the cage he’s going to go with me to hit some balls. He’s committed and I’m committed, too.”

The Phillies have baseball’s second-worst on-base percentage (.307, San Diego is .303) the last six seasons. The additions of Santana and J.P. Crawford to the lineup – and a full season of Rhys Hoskins, another selective hitter – should help the offense.

“When you have a guy (like Santana) in the middle of the lineup, grinding down the opposing pitcher – just imagine, you’re a pitcher on the other side and you’re delivering pitch after pitch that’s getting fouled off or a ball that is just off the corner and being taken, you get exhausted,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Guess who benefits from that? The next man up and the next man up and there’s this ripple effect. An exhausted starting pitcher or even an exhausted reliever is a really good thing for the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies in December. He said the Phillies’ young core reminds him of the group of youngsters that his former team, the Cleveland Indians, brought to the majors in recent seasons.

Unlike a number of other free agents who are still jobless in this unusual year for free agents, Santana jumped relatively early at the Phillies’ offer. He said it was “shocking” that so many free agents remain unsigned.

“I know baseball is going through a difficult time right now, with all of the free agents,” Santana said. “But it worked out for me. I am happy. I can only speak for myself, and I am happy I did it the way I did it. It's very surprising because there are a lot of talented free agents out there. I thought it would be very different from what it's been.”

To prepare for the new season and the new team, Santana worked with a personal trainer in the Dominican Republic. In one of the drills, he was forced to push a car.

“It was a complete workout,” he said. “It wasn't only to get ready for preseason, it was also to get ready for the season and be successful during the season.

“It's a positive atmosphere here. I see a lot of young guys, very hungry and very eager to win. You can tell everyone is ready to go here.”

Phillies add experienced candidate to their bullpen

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USA Today Images

Phillies add experienced candidate to their bullpen

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies on Saturday added to their stock of reliever candidates with the signing of veteran left-hander Fernando Abad to a minor-league contract. Abad will report to big-league camp and compete for a job on the 25-man roster.

The Phillies are likely to have an eight-man bullpen. The addition of Abad gives the Phillies four left-handed relief candidates. Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner and Zac Curtis are all on the 40-man roster. 

Morgan and Milner both shined in the second half of 2017. Morgan recorded a 1.69 ERA in 21 games over the final two months. He pitched 26 2/3 innings over that span, allowed just 16 hits and five runs, struck out 33 and walked six. Milner gave up just two runs in 21 2/3 innings over his last 27 games. He struck out 15 and managed to pitch around 12 walks. He was tough on lefty hitters (.159), but struggled against righties (.377). Curtis was a late-season waiver claim from Seattle. He pitched in just three games with the Phillies. 

Abad, 32, is an eight-year major-league veteran who has made stops in Houston, Washington, Oakland, Minnesota and Boston. He had a 3.30 ERA in 48 games with the Red Sox last season and lefties hit .227 off him.

From the right side, the Phillies have some bullpen depth with closer Hector Neris, veteran setup men Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, Luis Garcia and Edubray Ramos. Victor Arano, Ricardo Pinto, Yacksel Rios and Seranthony Dominquez are also on the 40-man roster. 

Dominguez hit 100 mph on the radar gun as a starter last season and is being converted to the bullpen. He is likely to open the season at Double A Reading, but “could be a quick mover,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

The list of bullpen candidates also includes two veterans on minor-league contracts: Pedro Beato and Francisco Rodriguez. The latter is a 16-year veteran who has racked up 437 saves – fourth-most all-time – in his career. Rodriguez was released by the Tigers and Nationals last summer and is trying to make the Phillies as a non-roster invitee to big-league camp.