Phillies

Best of MLB: Betts' 3 HRs, 8 RBIs carry Porcello, Red Sox over Arizona

Best of MLB: Betts' 3 HRs, 8 RBIs carry Porcello, Red Sox over Arizona

BOSTON -- Mookie Betts hit three home runs and drove in a career-best eight runs and Dustin Pedroia collected five hits to power the Boston Red Sox to a 16-2 rout of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.

Rick Porcello became the first Red Sox pitcher in 70 years to open a season 12-0 at Fenway Park, improving his overall record to 16-3 as Boston completed a three-game sweep of Arizona.

For Betts, it was the right-fielder's second three homer game of the season. He hit three against Baltimore on May 31.

Jackie Bradley Jr. chipped in with a two-run homer for the Red Sox, who closed a six-game homestand at 4-2.

What was billed as a marquee pitching matchup turned into a rout early when Zack Greinke (11-4) was tagged for three homers and nine runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Porcello allowed one run on three hits over seven innings and became the first Boston pitcher since Dave "Boo" Ferriss to begin a year by winning his first 12 decisions in Fenway (see full story). 

Matz takes no-hit bid into 8th, Mets beat Padres 5-1
NEW YORK -- Steven Matz carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning and the New York Mets won consecutive games for the first time in more than a month, beating the San Diego Padres 5-1 on Sunday.

Alexei Ramirez slapped a one-out single over first base on Matz's 105th and final pitch in 96-degree heat at Citi Field. Wilmer Flores and Neil Walker homered for the Mets, who took two of three in the series.

Struggling to stay close in the wild-card race, the defending NL champions (59-58) hadn't strung together two wins since July 6-7 against Miami and Washington.

Facing the Padres for the first time, Matz (9-8) won for only the second time in nine decisions over his past 14 starts. The rookie left-hander, a hometown favorite who grew up about 50 miles from Citi Field, struck out eight and walked two. He fanned All-Star slugger Wil Myers all three times.

The only Mets pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Johan Santana in June 2012 against St. Louis.

Flores and Walker connected for solo shots off lefty Clayton Richard (0-2) (see full story). 

Longoria has 4 RBIs as Rays rout youthful Yankees 12-3
NEW YORK -- Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer off Luis Severino, Evan Longoria added a three-run double against Luis Cessa to cap a six-run fourth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays rolled to a 12-3 rout Sunday of the New York Yankees

Longoria had an RBI double in the first and singled in the seventh, finishing the three-game series 7 for 11 with six RBIs.

Logan Forsythe hit a second-inning solo shot and Dickerson's homer put the Rays ahead 5-1. Nick Franklin capped the offense with a three-run homer off Cessa in a four-run seventh as the last-place Rays stopped a three-game losing streak

Jake Odorizzi (7-5) won his fourth straight decision, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings.

Severino (1-8) allowed seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings, leaving him with a 7.19 ERA. He was demoted to the minor leagues immediately after the game, the third time this year he was optioned.

The Yankees started eight players 26 years old or younger for the first time in 49 years (see full story).

Zack Wheeler's floor a huge boost for Phillies, but that ceiling ...

Zack Wheeler's floor a huge boost for Phillies, but that ceiling ...

For long stretches in each of the last two seasons, Zack Wheeler was every bit as effective as Aaron Nola.

Wheeler had four terrific months in 2018, posting a 2.52 ERA over his final 20 starts beginning on June 1.

In 2019, he found his groove right around midseason, pitching to a 3.04 ERA over his final 16 starts.

When you hear the phrase "untapped potential" in relation to Wheeler, this is what it means. It means that if he can pitch like this a bit more consistently — four good months instead of two — he can be a legitimate ace.

If he can't? Well then, if you trust his stuff and his results the last two years, you're getting no worse than a low-end No. 2 starter. Wheeler has made 60 starts the last two seasons with a 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, a strikeout per inning and less than a home run per nine.

Those numbers might not jump off the page, but they are impressive when you consider the surge in home runs in 2019 and especially so when considering his workload.

Wheeler is one of only 12 pitchers to reach 375 combined innings the last two seasons. The others are Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Aaron Nola, Patrick Corbin, Trevor Bauer, Jose Berrios, Miles Mikolas and Mike Leake.

In 2019, Wheeler made 18 quality starts (at least six innings with three earned runs or fewer). Nola also made 18. Zach Eflin had 14, Jake Arrieta had 10 and no other Phillie was in double-digits.

When Nola did not start a game for the Phillies in 2019, they received a quality start 31 percent of the time — less than once every three games.

Wheeler obviously helps with that. Think back to late last season when the Phillies could generate no momentum and had such a smaller chance to win when anyone was on the mound other than their ace. Wheeler changes that. He offers more of a chance for series wins, sweeps, actual winning streaks.

He also brings velocity, something the Phillies' rotation has sorely lacked for years. Wheeler's four-seam fastball averaged a career-best 96.7 mph last season, fourth-fastest in the majors behind Noah Syndergaard, Cole and deGrom.

The Phillies have never had a starting pitcher throw at least 100 innings in a season and average better than 95 mph with his fastball. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez came the closest. Wheeler has done it comfortably in back-to-back seasons.

Velocity is not the only thing, especially these days when so many have it, but it is obviously still a major part of missing bats and getting outs. Because Wheeler has 3 or 4 mph more on his fastball than Nola, and because he can locate significantly better than Pivetta or Velasquez, he offers the Phillies' rotation a different, much-needed look.

This is not to say Wheeler comes without flaws or concerns. He hasn't yet ripped off a string of strong seasons. Two is a start and the Phillies are banking on it continuing.

He hasn't been a Top 10 Cy Young finisher, though he should have been in '18.

He's never reached 200 innings in a season, though some of that was because of caution the Mets exercised with him.

And Wheeler, despite the velo, has gone through plenty of multi-start stretches where he's been hit hard and doesn't miss many bats, in a way you don't see with the tippy-top guys like Scherzer and deGrom (which Wheeler is not).

He had three starts in a row like that last August and two straight in June.

But Wheeler is as capable of 7 innings, 1 run, 11 strikeouts as any pitcher in either league. When he's on, he can be so, so good. He went at least seven innings 15 times last season and allowed one or no runs in seven of them.

This one addition will not boost the Phillies to 90 wins, but it's the first giant step to another critical offseason.



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At the Yard podcast: Reacting to the huge Zack Wheeler news

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NBCSP

At the Yard podcast: Reacting to the huge Zack Wheeler news

Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman react to the big news of the Phillies agreeing to a five-year deal with Zack Wheeler on the latest At The Yard podcast.

They also discuss the possibility of the Phillies signing Didi Gregorius, Cole Hamels heading to the Braves, and much more.

• Initial impressions of the signing
• What the guys like most about Wheeler
• Was this the right price?
• Bittersweet day with Hamels to Braves
• Phillies still need to add another good SP
• One Wheeler concern
• The market for Anthony Rendon



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies