Phillies

Instant Replay: Astros 13, Phillies 4

Instant Replay: Astros 13, Phillies 4

BOX SCORE

The Houston Astros are one of baseball's best teams and they played like it, hanging a 13-4 beating on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.

The Astros hit two home runs against Phillies starter Vince Velasquez in the second inning. The game was delayed for one hour, 52 minutes in the top of the fourth inning and when it resumed the Astros rallied for five runs in that frame to roll to their 66th win. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers have more.

The Astros out-hit the Phillies, 18-10. And they were without star shortstop Carlos Correa (.320/20/67). He is on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his thumb. Also, All-Star outfielder George Springer (.311/27/66) left the game in the third inning with a sore quad muscle.

The Phillies are 5-5 since the All-Star break and 34-63 overall.

Starting pitching report
Velasquez was originally Houston property. He was selected by that club in the second round of the 2010 draft and pitched in the majors with Houston in 2015. He was traded to the Phillies as part of the package for Ken Giles in December of that year.

The rain limited Velasquez’s outing to three-plus innings. He gave up six hits, four runs and walked three. He is 2-6.

Houston's Brad Peacock gave up a run in three innings of work.

Bullpen report
Ricardo Pinto had a tough night. He came on after the rain delay and was tagged for seven hits and six runs in 1 1/3 inning. Three of the runs were unearned.

Joe Musgrove pitched three scoreless innings for the Astros and got the win.

At the plate
Tommy Joseph doubled home the Phillies' first run.

The Phils trailed 12-1 in the seventh inning when Nick Williams stroked a three-run triple. Williams has three triples and 18 RBIs in 72 at-bats with the big club.

Houston had eight extra-base hits.

Brian McCann and Alex Bregman hit back-to-back homers for the Astros in the second inning. Houston leads the majors with 165 homers. McCann has 22 homers in his career against the Phillies.

Jose Altuve had four hits for the Astros. He also had four hits Sunday in Baltimore. He has a 16-game hitting streak.

Houston has scored double-digit runs in 16 games this season.

Lineup stuff
Howie Kendrick did not start, although he did hit into the game-ending double play as a pinch hitter. He is expected to start on Tuesday night. Manager Pete Mackanin said the team planned to be cautious with Kendrick, who was activated Friday after being on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

Kendrick remains a possibility to be traded before next week's deadline. Reliever Pat Neshek is the Phils' top trade chip and could be dealt at any time.

Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Nick Pivetta (3-5, 5.58) pitches against Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.18).

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Let the record show that on a snowy Friday afternoon 10 days before Christmas 2017, the Phillies ramped up their rebuild.

Dramatically.

What other conclusion can be drawn after the club went out and signed Carlos Santana, one of the best offensive players on the free-agent market? With the signing, confirmed by multiple baseball sources, general manager Matt Klentak has attached a new level of importance to the 2018 season.

Just a couple of days ago at the winter meetings in Orlando, Klentak spoke of how 2018 was going to be a time to "find out" more about the team's young core of players. Who would continue to take a step forward? Who would fall by the wayside?

But now that Santana is here, 2018 doesn't feel like it's just a find-out season. It feels like a season in which the Phillies can continue to find out about players — separate the studs from the duds — and also start nibbling around that second National League wild-card spot.

Sure, a lot has to go right for that to happen.

And one of the things that has to go right is Klentak has to land a starting pitcher to slot in around Aaron Nola and the rest of the staff, which has the look of a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters — until someone steps forward.

Santana's deal is for three years and $60 million, according to sources. Three years is a nice get — i.e., it's not cripplingly long — for a 32-year-old (in April) who hits for power, produces runs and does what Klentak likes best: controls the strike zone. (You could say that Klentak added two players who control the strike zone to his lineup Friday as the trade of Freddy Galvis to San Diego for strike-throwing pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos cleared the way for J.P. Crawford to be the regular shortstop.)

The Phillies need to do everything within reason to make sure that the first of Santana's three seasons with the club isn't about simply inching the rebuild forward. The Nationals are the class of the NL East, but the rest of the division ranges from ordinary to awful. The Phils, with an improved offense and bullpen (Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter), can play with the Braves and Mets and clean up on the Marlins, the jewelry store that became a pawnshop, in agent Scott Boras' words.

It's just up to Klentak to get more starting pitching, and he's on the case. He admitted that at the winter meetings. He is particularly fond of young starters with years of control remaining on their contracts. Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer fit this description. It takes talent to get pitchers like that. The Phillies have enough depth of prospects to get one of these guys and their reserves of expendable talent just grew with the Santana signing.

Santana, a switch-hitter who has averaged 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .810 OPS in eight seasons, is going to be the team's primary first baseman. Rhys Hoskins is going to be the primary leftfielder. That means the Phillies suddenly have a young outfielder that they could deal. Maybe they try to capitalize on Nick Williams' strong half-season in the majors and package him for an arm. Or maybe it's Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr.

However it plays out, you can be sure that Klentak will be creative. You can rule nothing out with this guy. The other day, we poo-pooed the Phillies signing Jake Arrieta, who is looking for a long-term deal approaching $200 million. But if Arrieta lingers out there until February and is looking for a two-year landing spot, hey, maybe.

We wouldn't even put it past Klentak to entertain the idea of using Santana at third base a little bit — he did play 26 games there in 2014 — and trading Maikel Franco. The Giants were sniffing around, gathering intel on Franco at the winter meetings. There has to be a reason for that. Also at the meetings, an official from a rival club said the Phillies weren't as aggressive as he expected in trying to move Cesar Hernandez. Could it be that Hernandez would get some time at third if Franco were to be moved? Hernandez is still a trade chip, but he doesn't need to be cashed in until July and by that time Scott Kingery should be here.

There are a lot of ways this thing can go. And with the signing of Carlos Santana — which won't become official until he passes a physical next week — the Phillies have guaranteed that the remainder of this offseason will be a busy one.

It has to be.

The stakes have changed for 2018. The rebuild is still in place, but it has been ramped up. Matt Klentak has improved the bullpen and the offense. Now he has to attack that starting pitching and he has the trade weapons to do it.

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

The Phillies' busy Friday continued with a pricey free-agent signing.

The Phils have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

It is by far the most expensive contract the Phillies have given out under the Matt Klentak-Andy MacPhail regime.

They had the money. When the offseason began, the only player the Phillies had signed to a multi-million dollar deal was Odubel Herrera.

Santana, 31, has always been a high-walk power hitter. From 2011 through 2017, he walked between 88 and 113 times each season, all while maintaining relatively low strikeout totals for a man with such power and plate selection.

In 2016, Santana set a career high with 34 home runs. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 37 doubles, 23 homers and 79 RBIs.

This addition provides the Phillies with much-needed pop to protect Rhys Hoskins and also gives the Phils added versatility. Santana is a switch-hitter who came up as a catcher, but he hasn't caught since 2014. The last three seasons, he has played primarily first base. In his eight seasons, Santana has also started 26 games at third base and seven in right field.

The move likely means Hoskins will play left field, and it could facilitate another Phillies trade of an outfielder such as Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr or Odubel Herrera.