Phillies uncertain who takes Lee's spot Saturday


Phillies uncertain who takes Lee's spot Saturday

MIAMI – The Phillies called up leftfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf to take Cliff Lee’s spot on the roster. Lee was officially placed on the disabled list with an elbow strain Wednesday morning (see story).

The question remains: Who will take Lee’s spot in the starting rotation Saturday against the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park?

Manager Ryne Sandberg said it was possible the Phillies would know sometime Thursday.

“As of right now, we have a couple of choices,” Sandberg said before Wednesday’s game.

The most likely choice would seem to be sinkerballer David Buchanan. The 25-year-old right-hander nearly made the big club out of spring training and is 5-1 with a 3.98 ERA in nine starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Buchanan pitched just one inning, allowing five hits and four runs, in his last start Sunday, but Sandberg said he was healthy.

Buchanan is scheduled to pitch for Lehigh Valley on Saturday so he would be a seamless fit into the rotation.

Lefty Greg Smith, who has pitched in the majors with Oakland and Colorado, could also be a possibility. He is scheduled to pitch for Lehigh Valley on Sunday.

Jesse Biddle, 3-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts at Double A (see story), is not a candidate for the start.

“He’s not ready to be in the big leagues,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He needs to throw more strikes.”

Biddle has allowed just 48 hits in 56 2/3 innings. He has walked 24 and struck out 61.

The Phillies are in the midst of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Without an off day on the horizon, it’s unlikely they would try to piece together a handful of relievers to get through Saturday’s start.

The Phillies will have to make a roster move to add a pitcher on Saturday so it’s possible Ruf could head right back to Triple A on that day to get more at-bats. He began the season on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique muscle and has had just 46 minor-league at-bats. Even Ruf has admitted he could use more at-bats before he’s on top of his game. Still, if Ruf shines in whatever role he plays these next few days, he could force management to keep him and send out another player.

Outfielder Ben Revere has a minor-league option remaining, but Amaro said, “Ben’s not going down.”

Revere, sporting a .284 on-base percentage, did not start for a fifth straight game Wednesday night. He missed a couple of those games because he was ill.

Revere could be back in the lineup Thursday afternoon against right-hander Henderson Alvarez.

MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

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MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Chicago Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to held the defending World Series champion Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Manager Joe Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (see full recap).

Tanaka, Yankees blank Astros to take ALCS lead
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the New York Yankees finally solved Houston Astros nemesis Dallas Keuchel, beating the ace lefty 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home and move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since 2009.

The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.

Just days ago, Houston was up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home in this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Yankees storm back for win over Astros to even ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Yankees storm back for win over Astros to even ALCS

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge ignited a rousing rally with a home run, then doubled during a four-run eighth inning to spur the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 6-4 Tuesday night and level the AL Championship Series 2-2.

The Yankees trailed 4-0 against starter Lance McCullers Jr. until Judge homered leading off the seventh. He tied it with a line drive that nearly left the park in the eighth and scored on Gary Sanchez's go-ahead two-run double off loser Ken Giles.

The Yankees have rallied from a second straight 0-2 series deficit -- they beat Cleveland in the Division Series by winning three in a row to take that best-of-five matchup.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect ninth, and New York improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs.

Masahiro Tanaka pitches for New York against Dallas Keuchel in Game 5 Wednesday and rematch of the opener, won by the Astros 2-1 (see full recap).

Dodgers on brink of World Series after shutout
CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish pitched sparkling ball into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles set a franchise record with its sixth consecutive playoff win. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip -- on a long foul ball in the first inning.

Looking for a four-game sweep and their 22nd NL pennant, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since their last championship in 1988. Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.

Los Angeles was eliminated by Chicago in the NLCS last year, but this is a different group of Dodgers. The lineup is patient and pesky and the pitching staff is much deeper, especially since Darvish was acquired in a trade with Texas in the final minutes before the July 31 deadline (see full recap).