Instant Replay: Astros 13, Phillies 4

Instant Replay: Astros 13, Phillies 4


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).

Ben Lively states his case for spot on Phillies' pitching staff

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Ben Lively states his case for spot on Phillies' pitching staff


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies will be without Mark Leiter Jr.'s versatile arm for about six weeks. An MRI performed Monday on the pitcher's sore right forearm showed a strained flexor muscle.

Leiter had a good chance to make the opening day roster as a long reliever or fifth starter. With him out, the Phillies could be in need of a swingman.

Could Ben Lively be that guy?

"I can pitch anywhere," the competitive 26-year-old right-hander said. "I don't care. Wherever they want, I'll pitch."

Lively did nothing to hurt his chances of making the club as he turned in five shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in a rain-shortened 2-0 win Tuesday afternoon. He allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out four. He was particularly impressive in the fourth inning, striking out Justin Smoak and retiring Russell Martin on a tapper back to the mound with runners on second and third.

"I just tried to bear down and stick to the game plan," Lively said. "There's too much technology around here now. We have all the heat maps and we talked about it before the game and I just stayed with it."

Lively made 15 starts with the big club last year and 10 of them were quality starts in which he went at least six innings and gave up three or fewer earned runs. Lively doesn't have power stuff. He gave up 9.1 hits per nine innings last season and struck out just 5.3 per nine. Management would love to see some improvement in those areas — i.e., more of what he displayed on Tuesday.

"Lively was strong today," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He came out and attacked the zone.

"One of the things that is important is that we see some swing and misses with Lives and we saw a couple of bat-missing moments today that were, to me, a big deal. He induces quick contact, which is important, but we also like to see the ability to miss bats and we saw that on a couple of occasions, (Curtis) Granderson being most notable."

Granderson struck out twice against Lively.

"We look at past tendencies from recent years," Lively said of his pregame study. "The main one we looked at today was Granderson. He has a low slugging percentage on the outer half (of the plate), so we pounded him on the outer half the whole time."

With Jerad Eickhoff headed to the disabled list and Nick Pivetta likely to join Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez in the starting rotation, Lively appears to be vying for the fifth starter's job with Zach Eflin and non-roster invite Drew Hutchison. But he and Hutchison also could be vying for a long man's job in the bullpen.

By mid-April, the Phillies will probably have an eight-man bullpen. But they could break with an extra reliever because they won't need a fifth starter until April 11.

However it shakes out, Lively did not hurt his chances of landing some role with his performance Tuesday.

Roster moves
The Phillies sent catcher Logan Moore, infielder Mitch Walding and outfielder Andrew Pullin to minor-league camp.

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

Photo: NBCSP

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, has been noticeably absent from game action in minor-league camp.

Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, says there's nothing to be alarmed about.

"He had the flu and he's over it now," Jordan said. "He's fine now. No issues. He's 100 percent."

Jordan said Sanchez got up to 30 pitches in a bullpen session this week.

"He let it go with all his pitches," Jordan said.

Jordan added that Sanchez would pitch in a game in the next few days. He added that Sanchez would open the season on time with the Clearwater club, though his innings will be watched at the outset until he's fully stretched out.

Sanchez, 19, is a power-armed right-hander with remarkable control. He went 5-7 with 3.03 ERA in 18 starts at Lakewood and Clearwater, both Single A affiliates, last season. He pitched 95 innings, struck out 84, walked 18 and had a WHIP of 0.958.