Phillies

Best of MLB: Brawls lead to 8 ejections in Tigers' win over Yankees

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Best of MLB: Brawls lead to 8 ejections in Tigers' win over Yankees

DETROIT -- Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera and Yankees catcher Austin Romine wrestled on the ground near home plate during the first of three bench-clearing altercations during the Tigers' testy 10-6 victory over New York on Thursday.

Five players were ejected, along with both managers and the Yankees' bench coach.

Justin Upton and James McCann homered for Detroit, and Gary Sanchez went deep for the Yankees, but that all became secondary on a day when the umpires had their hands full trying to maintain order. Major League Baseball figures to be busy now, sorting out likely suspensions that could especially hurt the playoff-contending Yankees.

The winning and losing pitchers -- Detroit's Alex Wilson (2-4) and New York's Dellin Betances (3-5) -- were among those ejected. Betances was tossed after hitting a batter in the helmet with a pitch, and argued with the umps.

The ill will carried over to the Detroit dugout, too, where star pitcher Justin Verlander and teammates Victor Martinez and Nicholas Castellanos got into some sort of dispute.

Shane Greene got five outs for his fourth save (see full recap).

Dodgers top Pirates for 90th win
PITTSBURGH -- Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled away from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a 5-2 victory Thursday, their 90th win of the season.

Grandal's 18th of the year gave the Dodgers a two-run lead. Gonzalez pushed it to three moments later with a shot to nearly the same spot in the right-field seats for his second of the season and 100th with Los Angeles. Curtis Granderson hit his 22nd home run of the season. Chris Taylor chipped in three hits and Kike Hernandez added two hits on his 26th birthday.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-6) held the Pirates to one run over six innings. Brandon Morrow worked the ninth for first save since 2009. Los Angeles improved to 90-36, becoming the 12th team in major league history to reach the 90-win plateau in 126 games (see full recap).

Valaika HR helps Rockies rally past Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Pat Valaika hit a two-run homer with two out in the eighth inning and Greg Holland finished for his 36th save in the Colorado Rockies' 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Valaika snapped an 0-for-12 slide, driving a full-count pitch from Mike Minor (5-6) to left after Gerardo Parra singled.

Holland worked a perfect ninth. He allowed Eric Hosmer's game-ending, three run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday night and was 0-4 with three blown saves in his previous six appearances.

Adam Ottavino (2-3) struck out two in a perfect seventh.

The Rockies snapped a four-game losing streak with just their fifth victory in 17 games.

Rookie Jake Junis limited the Rockies to one run and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings. He matched his career high with seven strikeouts and walked one. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in three August starts, walking one and striking out 16 in 19 1-3 innings.

Whit Merrifield and Brandon Moss led off the Royals' first and second innings with home runs. It was Merrifield's third career leadoff home run, all this season, and his eighth hit in 15 at-bats. Moss hit his 17th home run, 14 of them with the bases empty (see full recap).

Phillies activate Wilson Ramos

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Phillies activate Wilson Ramos

As the Phillies continue a three-week stretch against tough teams and multiple aces, they’ll welcome perhaps their biggest trade deadline addition to the lineup.

Wilson Ramos has completed his rehab assignment and was activated ahead of the Phillies' home game tonight against the Red Sox. He will bat sixth.

To accommodate Ramos on the 25-man roster, the Phillies optioned catcher Andrew Knapp to Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Ramos went 4 for 9 with three doubles in three rehab games with the Clearwater Threshers (High A). He caught 14 innings.

The Phillies acquired Ramos on July 31 from the Rays for a player to be named later or cash, but the All-Star catcher was still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered on July 14.

His bat will make the Phillies’ lineup better, there’s no question about it. Gabe Kapler will be replacing a bottom-of-the-order bat with a middle-of-the-order bat. He’ll be replacing Jorge Alfaro’s league-worst strikeout rate and .306 OBP with a catcher who can hit .300 — with power — and doesn’t whiff much.

Ramos is also steadier behind the plate, where Phillies catchers have struggled all season receiving. The Phillies have the second-most passed balls, second-most wild pitches and second-most stolen bases allowed in the National League.

Ramos has hit .297/.346/.488 with 14 homers and 14 doubles in 315 plate appearances. He’s played essentially two-thirds of the season to this point.

Ramos was also an All-Star two years ago, his last healthy, full season. He hit .307/.354/.496 with 22 HR and 80 RBI with the Nationals, who tried to reacquire him this summer to no avail.

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Playing the Red Sox tough is nice, but some wins would be nicer for struggling Phillies

Playing the Red Sox tough is nice, but some wins would be nicer for struggling Phillies

BOX SCORE

Coming out of spring training, the consensus opinion on the Phillies was that they’d pick up on the improvement they showed in the second half of last year’s 66-96 season and maybe push .500.

The thinking was that would be a nice step in the right direction for a team that had pushed its rebuild into field-goal range.

Then the season got going and the Phillies started winning, and contending, and by the first week of July they were in first place in the NL East.

They entered August in first place and that was meaningful because, in a sport where the long haul matters, four months is a significant chunk of time.

Becoming a contender a year before most envisioned changed the way these Phillies are viewed. Had they been plugging along hoping to finish the season at .500 and fuel a little optimism for the future, then Tuesday night’s loss to the Boston Red Sox might have been seen as a good thing, an oh-look-at-how-we-hung-with-the-big-boys moral victory (see first take).

But as a contender and a team with legitimate postseason hopes, the 2-1 loss stung and it stung even worse when the out-of-town scoreboard flashed the final score from Atlanta, where the Braves beat the Marlins, 10-6.

In two days, the Phillies have lost two games in the standings to the Braves and now trail them by two games in the NL East.

The Phillies are 2-5 in their last seven games and they have scored just 16 runs over that span. They have another one on tap against Boston on Wednesday night.

The Red Sox are the majors’ best team, on pace to win 115 games, and the Phillies have played them tough in three games over the last two weeks. Boston has won a pair of 2-1 games and the Phils have won a 3-1 contest. But the Phils are past the point where playing a good team tough makes them feel good. 

They need some hits.

They need some wins.

“We know that we can go toe to toe with this team,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We showed that we could at Fenway Park. We did it tonight. We came out on the losing end because they played a better baseball game. But we're very confident that tomorrow we're going to be playing the better baseball game. We're looking forward to that.”

The Phillies’ offense ranks second to last in the majors with a .234 batting average and below average in many other important offensive categories. It ran into a good pitcher on top of his game Tuesday night and the results were not good. Boston’s Rick Porcello, a Cy Young winner in 2016, dazzled with seven innings of one-run ball. He walked none and had six 1-2-3 innings. Porcello gave up just two hits – that’s all the Phillies had – and struck out 10. The Phils struck out 13 times as a team – they’ve reached double digits in Ks 60 times this season – and walked just once.

That’ll lose you some ballgames.

“Porcello deserves a lot of credit,” Kapler said. “He was really awesome. Great job by him.”

The Phillies got a strong game from their starter, as well. Nick Pivetta delivered six innings of one-run ball, walked one and struck out six. He exited early for a pinch-hitter as Kapler tried to nudge the offense only to see Roman Quinn go down on a first-pitch fly ball in the bottom of the sixth.

All the scoring came via the long ball. Sandy Leon took Pivetta deep in the third and Rhys Hoskins got Porcello leading off the fifth. Hoskins, who was dropped from second to cleanup, was 1 for 28 before hitting his 23rd homer. The Phillies need his bat to come alive.

With no margin for error, the Phillies’ bullpen – neither bullpen, for that matter – could afford a mistake. Tommy Hunter made one with one out in the eighth and pinch-hitter Brock Holt clubbed it off the facing of the upper deck in right to break a 1-1 tie and propel the Sox to their 86th win.

Holt ambushed the first pitch.

“Yeah, it was a cutter,” Hunter said. “He got it. He hit it. I'll probably throw 16 of them again tomorrow. He got it. Tip your cap.”

The cutter is Hunter’s best pitch and Holt was looking for it.

“Yeah, coming off the bench, he's going to swing at the first pitch,” Hunter said. “I left it a little too far on the plate. I probably should have buried it in off the plate.”

The atmosphere in all three of the Phillies-Red Sox games over the last two weeks has been intense, almost playoff-like.

“It’s two pretty good teams going toe to toe,” Hunter said. “That’s the way you like it though. Throw blows and see who comes out on top.”

Vince Velasquez will try to help the Phillies come out on top Wednesday night.

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