Best of MLB: Twins set team record with 28 hits in 20-7 win over Mariners

Best of MLB: Twins set team record with 28 hits in 20-7 win over Mariners

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario hit three home runs and drove in five runs and the Minnesota Twins set a franchise record with 28 hits while batting around in two different innings of a 20-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.

Max Kepler and Brian Dozier also went deep, Eduardo Escobar had five hits and two RBIs and Jason Castro had four hits and four RBIs for the Twins, who are in first place in the AL Central despite an AL-worst 13-19 record at Target Field.

The 28 hits are the most in a game since the Rangers had 29 in a 30-3 win over the Orioles on Aug. 22, 2007.

Christian Bergman (3-4) gave up nine runs and 10 hits in 2 1-3 innings for the Mariners. Jarrod Dyson had a homer, a double and an RBI. Ben Gamel had two doubles and an RBI (see full recap).

Cubs slam Mets to snap 9-game road skid
NEW YORK -- Anthony Rizzo began the game with a long home run after a surprising move to the leadoff spot, rookie Ian Happ hit his first career grand slam and the Chicago Cubs trounced the New York Mets 14-3 on Tuesday night.

Backed by a season-best seven-run second inning, the World Series champs snapped a nine-game skid on the road and moved back to .500 through 64 games. The Cubs had lost five of six overall.

Jon Lester (4-4) earned his 150th win and matched a season high with 10 strikeouts. He allowed a run and five hits over seven innings.

Rizzo, batting leadoff for the first time in his career, had two hits, three RBIs and a bases-loaded walk. He's reached base in 21 of his last 36 plate appearances (see full recap).

Zimmerman homers twice in return in Nationals’ win
WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman hit his 18th and 19th home runs of the season in his return from back soreness, and the Washington Nationals scored five sixth-inning runs against R.A. Dickey to defeat the Atlanta Braves 10-5 on Tuesday night.

Zimmerman went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs to help Washington snap a four-game slide after sitting out the last three.

Daniel Murphy homered, doubled and had three hits and two RBIs as the NL-East leading Nationals scored eight runs against a second Braves starter in as many nights.

Unlike Monday, Washington's bullpen held firm Tuesday with four relievers combining for 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Trevor Gott (1-0) worked out of the sixth for his first victory as a National.

Dickey (4-5) went five-plus innings while allowing his most runs since April 24, 2015.

Atlanta's Rio Ruiz hit a two-run homer. Dansby Swanson and Brandon Phillips both had three hits for the Braves (see full recap).

Aaron Nola another Zack Greinke? A quick call-up for Scott Kingery?

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Aaron Nola another Zack Greinke? A quick call-up for Scott Kingery?


BRADENTON, Fla. — Gabe Kapler played most of what figures to be his opening day lineup on Friday and the Phillies responded with one of their best games of the Grapefruit League schedule in beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-2.

The only regular not in the starting lineup was shortstop J.P. Crawford. Bench candidate Jesmuel Valentin played there (see story).

Opening day starter Aaron Nola pitched four shutout innings, gave up four hits, a walk and struck out five. He threw 64 pitches and 45 were strikes.

Maikel Franco belted two homers, both bombs to left. One was a two-run shot on a 3-0 fastball, the other a grand slam.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a good showing by the Phils without another impressive performance from the man who has been the best player in camp, Scott Kingery. He came off the bench, played center field, right field and third base, and stroked a hard single to right.

It is doubtful that Kingery will be on the opening day roster, but it’s looking more and more like he could be up with the big club as soon as April 13. If Kingery stays in the minors until then, the Phillies will control his rights through 2024. If he makes the opening day roster, he could be eligible for free agency after 2023. Keeping Kingery down for a few weeks won’t sit well with some fans, but it makes good baseball sense, especially for a team that does not project as a slam-dunk contender.

Kapler raved about a play Kingery made at third.

“Wow, wow,” the manager said. “His ability to go to his left and make that strong throw. He showed off that incredible arm and that versatility.”

Kapler also liked Franco’s power. The third baseman, entering a make-or-break season with the Phillies, is hitting just .192 on the spring, but he leads the club with five homers. Franco has closed his stance by bringing his front foot closer to the plate. He is getting more comfortable with the stance, which the Phillies hope will prompt him to use the middle of the field and stop pulling off balls.

“He attacked that 3-0 pitch,” Kapler said. “That was pretty impressive.”

Nola said he was “ready to go” for the opener.

Kapler concurred and compared Nola to a former Cy Young winner.

“Perfect tune-up for opening day, got him right where we wanted him with pitches — and he got to that pitch count by throwing strikes, a lot of them, and really attacking with pitches," Kapler said of Nola.

“He’s starting to look to me a lot like — I saw Zack Greinke in the American League when he was with Kansas City — kind of a familiar look to the way that he uses the gas pedal and the brake effectively and fills up the strike zone with all his pitches. His calm, easy, collected demeanor is really reminiscent of some of the best pitchers in baseball.”

The Phillies play the Tigers in Lakeland on Saturday.

Questions Phillies face as spring training nears its end

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Questions Phillies face as spring training nears its end

BRADENTON, Fla. — Less than a week before opening day, there are still a number of unanswered questions surrounding the Phillies.

About the only thing known for sure is that Aaron Nola will start Thursday in Atlanta. The right-hander made his final spring tune-up Friday afternoon against the Pirates.

Some of the questions that need to be answered before the Phillies pack up and leave Florida on Tuesday include:

• When will Jake Arrieta join the rotation? Will it be April 2, 3 or 4 in New York? Will it be during the team’s first homestand, possibly April 7? Arrieta threw 31 pitches in his first spring start Thursday. A bullpen session over the weekend and his next start, likely 50 or so pitches on Tuesday, will offer team officials a better idea on when he’ll be ready.

• Who else will be in the rotation? Nothing has been announced, but Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta appear to be locks with Nola and eventually Arrieta. Zach Eflin could be the fifth starter, if the Phils use one the first time through the rotation. He could also piggyback with Arrieta in New York if the Phils wanted to get Arrieta going that early. Ben Lively and Drew Hutchison remain candidates to make the club as the fifth starter, should the Phils use one during the first 10 days of the season.

• Who's in the bullpen? Hector Neris, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, Luis Garcia and Adam Morgan are locks. That likely leaves three openings. One spot will likely go to a lefty, Hoby Milner or Zac Curtis. Right-handers Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano seem to be vying for one spot and the final one could go to Lively or Hutchison. They are both stretched out and could provide the bullpen length that injured Mark Leiter Jr. would have.

• How about bullpen roles? Manager Gabe Kapler is not one to speak in absolutes. He is loath to define roles in his bullpen or batting order. He’s keeping options open and could assign roles on a nightly basis based on matchups and research that the team’s growing analytics department digs up. Neris went 20 for 20 in save chances while giving up just three runs in 19⅔ innings after June 27 last season. Logic would dictate that he'd be the closer. But will he be every night? Will Kapler use him in a matchup situation in the seventh inning some night? Time will tell. Same for batting order construction.

• Who will be on the bench? Infielder/outfielder Pedro Florimon has played well and looks like a lock. That leaves one or two openings, depending on how many pitchers the Phils open with. Veterans Ryan Flaherty and Adam Rosales were both granted their release. That leaves Jesmuel Valentin and Roman Quinn, both 40-man roster guys, as the two lead candidates. There might be room for both, depending on how many pitchers the Phils open with. It also would not be shocking to see the team send Quinn to Triple A to get more playing time. The Phils appear to be leaning toward carrying Andrew Knapp as their second catcher over Cameron Rupp, who has a minor-league option remaining.