Phillies

Phillies interested in Orioles reliever Zach Britton

Phillies interested in Orioles reliever Zach Britton

NEW YORK – The Phillies will see the Baltimore Orioles for the third time in less than two weeks when the teams play a makeup game at Camden Yards on Thursday.

And you know what that means.

More trade buzz between the teams.

Only now it’s not about Manny Machado.

The Phillies’ affection for Machado is well known and Baltimore’s slugging shortstop/third baseman addressed the matter when he was in Philadelphia last week (see story).

At the moment, however, the Phillies find the asking price for Machado to be too steep. The Phils will keep lines of communication open with the Orioles, but their best shot of landing Machado might come in the offseason when he becomes a free agent.

In the meantime, there’s another Oriole to keep an eye on.

According to a major league source, the Phillies have interest in closer Zach Britton and have spoken about him with Orioles officials.

Britton, a 30-year-old lefty, is a two-time All-Star who racked up 120 saves for the Orioles from 2014-2016. He led the American League with 47 saves in 2016 and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting that season. Britton saved 15 games in 2017 but was limited to 38 games because of a forearm injury.

In the offseason, Britton suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. He returned to action in mid-June and has allowed six runs in 12 2/3 innings over his first 13 games. However, all of those runs came in two appearances and Britton has recently been quite effective, racking up five scoreless innings over his last five outings. Britton has given up just two hits and a walk over that span while striking out four and earning a win and a save.

Like Machado, Britton will be a free agent in the offseason. Phillies officials are not keen on giving up multiples of prospects for a rental player, but Britton’s price will be lower than Machado’s. Pretty much every team looking for relief help will have an interest in Britton, so the Orioles can afford to let his market develop. But the Phillies, who could possibly include Maikel Franco in a package, are in the running for him.

Britton, whose best pitch is a hard, sinking fastball, would be a good fit for the Phillies because he is a proven ninth-inning arm and that would allow manager Gabe Kapler to use power-armed Seranthony Dominguez as a high-leverage bullpen wild card as the second half of the season and the pennant race unfolds.

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Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

NEW YORK — Jake Arrieta slammed the shelf above his locker at Citi Field, still peeved moments after speaking with reporters.

Arrieta pitched relatively well in the Phillies' 5-1 loss to the Mets (see observations). The source of his anger was an untimely ejection of the Phillies' best player, Bryce Harper, in the top of the fourth inning, combined with an overall "flat" performance from the Phillies' offense.

The 33-year-old former Cy Young winner didn't mince words. He didn't rush to defend Harper or belabor the quick hook of home plate umpire Mark Carlson, who tossed Harper for arguing balls and strikes in the Phillies' dugout.

"He's got to understand, we need him in right field," Arrieta said. "I don't care how bad the umpire is. He wasn't great for either side. I'm out there trying to make pitches, he misses some calls. So what? We need him out there. 

"We were flat from start to finish. Two-hour delay, it doesn't matter. We have to be ready to play. We weren't and it showed.

"It's troubling. I'm out there doing everything I can to win a game. I need my guys behind me and they weren't."

Harper was upset during his own fourth-inning at-bat, which ended in a called strike three. One of the pitches to Harper was slightly out of the strike zone, up and away. Four batters later, Hernandez took a pitch high and out of the zone, even more so than the one to Harper. It was called a strike and Harper said something that was deemed by Carlson to be over the line. In a blink, and before any warning was issued, Harper was sent to the showers.

"He made a comment when he was in the batter's box and then he made a comment as he left the batter's box after he struck out," Carlson said after the game. "What he said warranted an automatic ejection."

From Carlson's perspective, Harper's comment was personal and involved foul language.

The ejection was the 12th of Harper's eight-year career, second-most among active players to Matt Kemp. "I'm usually zero to 100," he said. "If you look at all my ejections, it's usually pretty calm and then bam, once it happens, I try to let it out I guess."

Sometimes, a moment like that can galvanize a team, create some positive energy. It didn't on this night. After Harper's ejection, Hernandez singled, then the next 16 Phillies went down in order to end the game.

"Emotionally, it should have given us a boost but it didn't," Arrieta said. "We were flat. The dugout was flat. The defense wasn't good. We didn't throw the ball well as a staff overall. We got beat."

Arrieta would have preferred Harper showed more restraint.

"We need him in right field. I don't care how bad (the ump) is, I need him in right field, I need him at the plate and he wasn't there. So that hurts.

"He missed some pitches but for both sides. If that's the case, that happens on a nightly basis usually. The umpire is going to miss some calls. So what? Next pitch. We've got a game to play.

"I'm not happy with the way we showed up today. We need to come out tomorrow ready to go."

Arrieta is clearly one of the leaders on this team and he was clearly delivering a message to Harper and his teammates Monday night. The pitcher had not yet talked with Harper before speaking to reporters.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games. At 12-10, they are tied with the Mets atop the NL East. The Phillies have played 15 of their 22 games against NL East teams and have gone 9-6.

"I said it from the start. This first month was pretty important, with all the divisional games," said Rhys Hoskins, whose 401-foot home run was the Phillies' only run. 

"I don't think anybody in here is hitting the panic button at all. We've been pretty good at bouncing back. I think all of us in here are feeling pretty confident going into tomorrow. We're fine."

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Mets 5, Phillies 1: Bryce Harper ejected, Phillies' offense silenced

Mets 5, Phillies 1: Bryce Harper ejected, Phillies' offense silenced

BOX SCORE 

NEW YORK — Bryce Harper got tossed, the Phillies' offense went silent, and following a 95-minute rain delay, the Phils were defeated 5-1 Monday night by the Mets.

Harper got the hook for arguing balls and strikes in the top of the fourth inning. Cesar Hernandez took a high pitch out of the zone that was called a strike and Harper said the magic words, resulting in an ejection from home plate umpire Mark Carlson. 

It was the 12th ejection of Harper's eight-year big-league career.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games and are 12-10. The Mets have the same record.

Huge difference a week makes

Last Tuesday, all eight Phillies Steven Matz faced reached base and came around to score. He didn't record an out.

Facing the Phillies for a second straight start Monday, Matz dealt. Over six innings, he allowed one run on three hits and struck out six, including four K's the first four times he faced Harper and Andrew McCutchen.

Can't cash in

The Phils clearly miss Jean Segura, as any team would. Losing one hitter really can make a profound impact on a lineup, especially when he has the bat-to-ball skills and .328 batting average Segura has provided. On this night, it forced Gabe Kapler to move J.T. Realmuto up to the two-hole, which weakened the five- and eight-spots with Maikel Franco also moving up.

The Phillies' best run-scoring opportunity came in the third inning when Cesar Hernandez doubled, Aaron Altherr walked and Jake Arrieta sacrificed them over to second and third. McCutchen struck out and Realmuto grounded out to end the inning.

The Phillies' only run came on a 401-foot home run from Rhys Hoskins, again on a low pitch. Hoskins demolished an 84 mph changeup to left-center field and it barely went out because of the wind. On a normal night, it might have gone 430.

Can't blame Arrieta

For the fourth consecutive start, Arrieta pitched into the seventh inning. He couldn't complete seven innings this time, being pulled after allowing a leadoff single.

Through five starts, Arrieta is 3-2 with a 2.65 ERA. He struck out seven Mets, five looking.

He kept the Phillies in the game and didn't allow much hard contact but received just the lone run of support.

Injury updates

It sounds like Segura will return Saturday when he is first eligible to be activated from the 10-day IL.

Odubel Herrera may require a few additional days.

Scott Kingery is farther away. The Phillies won't have a timetable for another few days.

All three are dealing with hamstring injuries of varying degrees.

Up next

Zach Eflin (2-2, 3.68) opposes Zack Wheeler (1-2, 6.35) at 7:10 p.m. on NBCSP+.

The Phillies will want to take advantage of missing both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in this series.

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