Detroit Tigers

Brushbacks, hit batsmen, ejections in Phils' spring training game

Brushbacks, hit batsmen, ejections in Phils' spring training game

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CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies bring extra pitchers over from the minor-league complex for bullpen depth every game in spring training. For the pitchers, it’s a nice little recognition of a job well done. They often don’t get in the game, but they get to put on a big-league uniform and put a day’s worth of big-league meal money in their pocket.
 
Parker Frazier got even more than that on Thursday. He not only got in the game. He got ejected.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a spring training game,” Frazier said with a laugh afterward. “I’ll take the first for something.”

Home plate umpire Tom Hallion gave Frazier the boot for hitting Detroit’s Derek Hill with a pitch in the eighth inning of a 6-2 loss. Frazier hit Hill with an off-speed pitch, so it clearly was not intentional. But Hallion had already issued warnings to both benches after Zach Eflin had hit Jose Iglesias and Detroit’s Matthew Boyd came in close twice against Odubel Herrera. In addition to Frazier, Hallion also ejected Phillies reliever Pedro Beato for hitting a batter in the ninth. Manager Gabe Kapler and bench coach Rob Thomson were ejected with Frazier and Beato, respectively.

It made for a crazy scene, especially in a spring training game.

Herrera believed that Boyd intentionally threw at him as retaliation for Iglesias getting hit. Boyd at first threw over Herrera’s head as Herrera tried to call timeout. He then came inside on Herrera. Herrera sidestepped the pitch and took first with a walk.

“He can’t hit me,” a defiant Herrera said afterward. “I’m too quick.”

Frazier definitely wasn’t trying to hit Hill, not with a slider.

“It was a slider that didn’t slide,” he joked.

Frazier is the 29-year-old son of former big-league pitcher George Frazier. He’s a career minor leaguer who has been in pro ball since 2007 and pitched in the Rockies, Reds, White Sox, A’s and Diamondbacks organizations. He pitched the last three seasons in independent ball and is in Phillies camp for the first time.

Frazier’s fiancee and future in-laws were in from Oklahoma for the game. They expected to see him pitch at the minor-league complex, but instead got to see him experience an eventful day in big-league camp.

After being ejected, Frazier returned to the clubhouse. A text from his fiancee awaited him.

“They wanted to know what happened,” he said. “I told them accidental hit pitch.”

Kapler wouldn't discuss what he said to Hallion after Frazier's ejection. He said he would respect the umpire's decision because those are the rules.

But Kapler made it clear that he didn’t believe his pitchers were trying to hit anyone.

“We have a minor leaguer in the game and he’s just trying to make a good impression,” Kapler said. “He threw a slider that backed up and hit somebody. Beato is also trying to make a club and make a good impression. There’s no reason to not throw strikes. Balls will get away. It’s part of the game.”

Arrieta comes out strong, but Kapler remains vague on timetable

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AP Images

Arrieta comes out strong, but Kapler remains vague on timetable

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ever since Jake Arrieta flew into town on Air Middleton and raised expectations for 2018, Phillies officials have said they would take a methodical approach with getting him ready for the regular season.

The Phils followed that plan in holding Arrieta to two innings and 31 pitches in the right-hander’s hotly anticipated spring debut against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

“We had a very specific pitch count in mind and we feel like we executed the innings and the pitch count to a T,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We did not want to push the envelope at all. There’s no reason to. We’re focused on the long view.”

Arrieta struck out the first two batters of the game then allowed a solo home run to two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, a double, a single and another run over the balance of his outing. He had hoped to go three innings, but understands the team’s plan.

“I'm on board with what these guys intend to do,” said the 32-year-old pitcher, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phils last week. “I know they have my health and the team's success over the long haul in mind. That's the most important thing moving forward.”

Kapler liked what he saw from Arrieta.

“It was a real positive outing,” he said. “We wanted to see health and strength. We saw both of those things and he threw strikes.”

Twenty-two of Arrieta’s 31 pitches were strikes.

Arrieta’s arm strength was impressive. He touched 95 mph on the stadium radar gun. He also threw several fastballs that registered 94. His fastball velocity had been a concern as it dropped from 94.9 mph in his Cy Young season of 2015 to 92.6 mph last season, according to PITCHf/x data.

“My timing and my delivery were nice,” Arrieta said. “The ball was coming out of my hand good. Even though I'm not particularly worried about velocity, the velocity was nice today. Sinking fastball was really good. I threw some good curveballs. The cutter wasn't necessarily great, along with the changeup. But those will come with repetition.”

Arrieta said he had “a ton of nervous energy” before the start.

“Now that it's over, I take a deep breath and I remember what it feels like to be in a game situation,” he said. “Umpires, crowd. It felt great. I'm healthy. The ball is coming out good. To get the first one out of the way — even though it is a little bit later — it's a good sign.”

Kapler continued to play things close to the vest with Arrieta’s timetable. What is clear, however, is that Arrieta will get one more start in Florida before camp breaks on Tuesday. He could build to around 50 pitches in that one and be ready to start in New York on April 2, 3 or 4. If the Phils decide that Arrieta needs two more outings to prepare for the regular season, he could debut on April 7 at home against Miami. Either way, he lines up to make 30-plus starts.

Best of MLB: Matthew Boyd falls an out short of no-hitter in Tigers' win over White Sox

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USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Matthew Boyd falls an out short of no-hitter in Tigers' win over White Sox

DETROIT -- Matthew Boyd's no-hit bid ended when Tim Anderson doubled with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Detroit left-hander closed out a 12-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday for the first nine-inning complete game of his professional career.

Boyd (6-10) allowed only two runners -- a walk to Rob Brantly in the third and Anderson's double to the gap in right-center field with two outs in the ninth. He threw a career-high 121 pitches and struck out five.

The 26-year-old had not thrown a complete game in 52 previous major league starts and had never thrown a nine-inning complete game in 121 previous professional starts.

Miami's Edinson Volquez has the only no-hitter in the majors this year, against Arizona on June 3 (see full recap).

Astros clinch AL West with win over Mariners
HOUSTON -- Justin Verlander struck out 10 batters over seven innings in his first home start for Houston while Derek Fisher and Marwin Gonzalez homered in a big fifth inning as the Astros clinched the American League West with a 7-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday for their first division title since 2001.

George Springer and Carlos Correa also homered for the Astros, who won their first division title since 2001 and seventh overall. The Astros become the first team in Major League Baseball history to win titles in three divisions after previously winning the NL West and NL Central.

Verlander (13-8) retired his first seven batters before Ben Gamel homered into the right-center bullpen in the third. He allowed just two singles after that to improve to 3-0 since he was acquired from Detroit on Aug. 31.

Andrew Moore (1-4) allowed three runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings (see full recap).

Jason Heyward gets big hit as Cubs sweep Cardinals
CHICAGO -- Jason Heyward hit a tiebreaking RBI single with two out in the seventh, and the Chicago Cubs swept the St. Louis Cardinals with a 4-3 victory on Sunday.

Ben Zobrist drove in two runs and Kyle Schwarber hit his 27th homer as the NL Central-leading Cubs closed out a 6-3 homestand with their sixth consecutive victory. They stayed four games ahead of Milwaukee and increased their advantage over third-place St. Louis to six games.

Pedro Strop (5-4) worked a rocky seventh for the win and Wade Davis got three outs for his 31st save in 31 chances. Dexter Fowler flied out to the warning track in center with a runner on first to end the game.

The Cardinals trailed 3-0 before Fowler hit a tying three-run homer off Jose Quintana with two out in the sixth, silencing the crowd of 37,242 on a warm, sunny day at Wrigley Field. The inning began with a double for Matt Carpenter that eluded a lunging Schwarber in left (see full recap).

David Price returns in Red Sox's loss to Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Price returned from a nearly two-month layoff by pitching two hitless innings for the Boston Red Sox in a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner was activated Thursday and pitched for the first time since July 22 after being sidelined by left elbow inflammation. He struck out two in his first relief appearance since 2010.

Jake Odorizzi (9-8) gave up one hit in six innings and the Rays salvaged the finale of a three-game series. Jesus Sucre's solo home run off Eduardo Rodriguez regained the lead for Tampa Bay in the sixth inning after Jackie Bradley Jr. homered for the only hit off Odorizzi.

It was the sixth home run for Sucre and the 17th for Bradley.

Odorizzi took a no-hitter into the sixth, having given up only a first-inning walk to Dustin Pedroia. He had retired 14 straight when he walked Brock Holt to lead off the sixth. Bradley's two-run homer followed on a 3-2 pitch, tying the game 2-2.

Rodriguez (5-6) took the loss for the Red Sox, who opened the day three games in front of the Yankees in the AL East (see full recap).

Rosario's 2 homers, Mauer's slam propel Twins past Blue Jays
MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario homered twice, Joe Mauer hit a grand slam and the Minnesota Twins overcame a five-run deficit to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 13-7 Sunday and maintain control for the second AL wild card.

Minnesota trailed 5-0 in the second inning after Josh Donaldson's second homer. Rosario and Byron Buxton hit consecutive homers to start the Twins' rally as Minnesota burst ahead with a seven-run bottom half that included Jorge Polanco's tiebreaking RBI grounder. Minnesota pulled away with six runs in the fifth against reliever Chris Rowley.

Minnesota began the day one game ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the second wild card and closed within four games of the Yankees heading into a three-game series at New York that starts Monday (see full recap).