Hey, I Pitched in Texas Too: Oswalt for the Sweep

Hey, I Pitched in Texas Too: Oswalt for the Sweep

While the Phillies' offense stubbornly refuses to come around—Domonic Brown failed to provide the magic elixir that somehow allows a team to score more than three runs in a game, going 0-4 in his season debut—they've managed to take their first two games against the Rangers this series with a simple formula: Eight innings of awesome starting pitching, and one inning of lockdown relief pitching. Certainly simplifies things, doesn't it? The Phils certainly have the rotation to put this plan into action with disturbing regularity, and they'll try once more this afternoon with Roy Oswalt taking the hill. Or maybe they'll score some runs instead. Who knows? The world was supposed to end last night, so there's no telling what the future holds at this point.

A Texan for the great majority of his career—though in Houston, of course, not Arlington—Roy O has had an uncharacteristically rough history against his  interstate AL rivals. In 12 career starts against the Rangers, Oswalt is just 4-6 with a 4.54 ERA, without a single win against them since 2005 (0-5 with a 3.87 ERA since). We're hoping for a little better from Roy this time around, obviously, and his last start—a no-decision outing against the Cards where he gave up just one run in five innings of work—hopefully bodes well for that. With a starting lineup today that looks to include Wilson Valdez, John Mayberry and Dane Sardinha, all the run-prevention help we can get will certainly be appreciated.

1:35 first pitch from CBP. "Roy’s got good stuff, I was impressed," said one-time 'Stro teammate and current Cardinal Lance Berkman of Oswalt after his start in St. Louis. “He told me (last Sunday) he wasn’t feeling great and if that’s what he looks like when he’s not feeling great, I don’t want to face him when he is.” You and the entire state of Texas, Berkman.

Eagles release oft-injured LB Travis Long, roster at 89

Eagles release oft-injured LB Travis Long, roster at 89

Injury-plagued linebacker Travis Long, once a top prospect under Chip Kelly and Bill Davis, was released by the Eagles Wednesday morning.

Long was released after just two practices of training camp. He’s suffered three torn ACLs since the fall of 2012. 

Long had 9 ½ sacks as a senior at Washington State but suffered a torn ACL late in the season in a game against Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., and went undrafted.

The Eagles signed him late in the offseason, and he spent the entire 2013 season on the practice squad.

After a very good preseason in the summer of 2014, he suffered a torn left ACL during a preseason game against the Jets, ending his season. He rehabbed for year, then suffered another torn left ACL early in training camp last summer and missed another season.

So despite being with the Eagles for the entire three years of Kelly’s regime, he never set foot on the field for a regular-season game.

Long, who turned 25 on Sunday, had 20 ½ sacks and 201 tackles in 47 starts at Washington State. He was an honorable mention Pac 12 pick as a senior and the Cougars’ defensive MVP.

Long’s release leaves the Eagles’ roster at 89, one below the training camp limit of 90.

The Eagles are extremely thin at linebacker. With Long no longer in the picture, they have six backups behind projected starters Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham, whose short-term future is up in the air after his reported arrest in Miami.

The backups are undrafted rookies Myke Tavarres, Don Cherry and Quentin Gause, rookie seventh-round pick Joe Walker and older veteran street free agents Deontae Skinner and Najee Goode.

Best of MLB: Indians rally off Papelbon, stun Nationals, 7-6

Best of MLB: Indians rally off Papelbon, stun Nationals, 7-6

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor pushed an RBI single through Washington's drawn-in infield with one out in the ninth inning, and the Cleveland Indians rallied for three runs in their final at-bat to stun the Washington Nationals 7-6 on Tuesday night in a matchup of two first-place teams with sights on October.

Down two runs and three outs from their losing streak reaching a season-high four games, the Indians rallied against Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon (2-4), who did not get an out before he was pulled by manager Dusty Baker.

With the bases loaded, Lindor fisted his base hit into right field and danced his way up the first-base line as the Indians celebrated an improbable victory.

Bryan Shaw (2-4) got two outs in the ninth and picked up the win as Cleveland won its first home game since July 10 (see full recap).

Cardinals take first game of doubleheader with Mets, 3-2
NEW YORK -- Jedd Gyorko homered again, hitting a two-run drive off Noah Syndergaard that sent the St. Louis Cardinals over the New York Mets 3-2 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.

Gyorko connected for the sixth time in eight games, giving him 13 this season. The Cardinals lead the NL in home runs with 137, matching last year's total.

The Mets played at home for the first time since the All-Star break and lost in a matchup of NL wild-card contenders. Citi Field was nearly empty at the start, a day after a rainout forced the twinbill.

Carlos Martinez (10-6) gave up a two-run homer to Rene Rivera and left after the fifth inning with a 3-2 lead. Three relievers finished, with Seung Hwan Oh getting his fifth save in six chances.

Syndergaard (9-5) has won only one of his last five starts (see full recap).

Colon, Mets top Cards, 3-1, for doubleheader split
NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon pitched three-hit ball for seven sharp innings and the New York Mets overcame another home run by Jedd Gyorko to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 Tuesday night for a doubleheader split.

Gyorko homered in both ends and has connected seven times in nine games. His two-run shot helped St. Louis win the opener 3-2.

Colon (9-5) struck out eight and walked none. After Gyorko homered in the second and Alberto Rosario doubled in the third, Colon set down 14 of his final 15 batters.

Addison Reed worked the eighth and Jeurys Familia closed for his 36th save this year and 52nd in a row during the regular season.

White Sox avoid Chapman, down Cubs 3-0 behind Shields
CHICAGO -- James Shields allowed four singles in 7 2/3 innings, Adam Eaton homered and the White Sox stayed unbeaten since Chris Sale's suspension by beating the Cubs 3-0 Tuesday night in Chicago's crosstown rivalry.

The Cubs lost their second straight and never got to use new closer Aroldis Chapman hours after he joined the team and struggled answering questions related to an altercation last year with his girlfriend.

Shields (5-12) struck out five and continued an impressive turnaround from a terrible first three starts after being acquired from San Diego last month. Nate Jones finished the eighth and David Robertson worked the ninth for his 24th save in the White Sox's fourth straight win since their ace was sent home for destroying throwback jerseys.

Jose Abreu had two hits, including an RBI single in the first off Kyle Hendricks (9-7) that ended his streak of 22 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run (see full story).

Jerad Eickhoff's 'outstanding' start wasted by Phillies in shutout loss to Marlins

Jerad Eickhoff's 'outstanding' start wasted by Phillies in shutout loss to Marlins

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — The Phillies enjoyed a three-week stretch before the All-Star break when they were the best hitting team in baseball.

In the final 19 games before the break, they hit .308 with a .871 OPS. Both marks were tops in the majors over that span. They averaged 5.63 runs per game in that stretch.

The run of sturdy offense created some excitement and anticipation heading into the second half of the season. But that excitement and anticipation has now dissipated. Since coming back from the break, the Phillies’ offense has retreated back to invisibility.

The Phils were blanked, 5-0, by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night, wasting a terrific start from Jerad Eickhoff (see Instant Replay).

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin was peeved.

“The only thing positive I can say about this game is Eickhoff,” Mackanin said. “He was outstanding. He had a great curveball, hit his spots, pitched well. It was a pitchers' duel up until the end. I’m real happy about that. 

"But that’s about all I’m happy about.”

Marlins starter Tom Koehler and a trio of relievers held the Phillies to just four singles.

Phillies hitters struck out 10 times. They have averaged 9.5 strikeouts in 12 games since coming back from the break and hit just .208. They are averaging just 2.75 runs in the 12 games since the break and carrying a 4-8 record.

“Poor plate discipline,” Mackanin said. “Poor plate discipline. Swinging at too many bad pitches. We get ourselves out too often. That’s about all I can think of.

“Koehler pitched well. But we helped him out a lot. We didn’t give him a chance to walk us. We swung at too many bad pitches. That’s our problem. We just get ourselves out too often. That’s what it boils down to.

“If you’re a free swinger who’s going to hit 30-plus home runs and drive in 100 runs, that’s acceptable to me. But if you’re not a power hitter, it’s unacceptable. You’ve got to make adjustments. You’ve got improve on it. You’ve got to work on it.”

Peter Bourjos offered his thoughts on the Phillies’ offensive struggles since the All-Star break.

“It's almost like it was probably bad timing for that break,” he said. “Everything was rolling. We were swinging the bats really well. Everyone looked comfortable in the box and feeling good and it's tough right now. You can see what there was with the offense. I think it's going to come back. We just need to get back into the rhythm that we had and everything's going to be all right.”

Eickhoff scattered five hits and a run over seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight, a big improvement over his previous start when these same Marlins tagged him for nine hits and six runs in five innings.

“I was more aggressive,” Eickhoff said. “It’s amazing what being aggressive will do for your game and how hitters will react. I threw my fastball inside and that set up my curveball so much more.”

The poor run support was nothing new for Eickhoff. He entered the game receiving an average of just 3.53 runs per game, 10th worst in the majors.

It was a scoreless game until there were two outs in the sixth. That’s when Giancarlo Stanton swatted a two-out RBI single to right, scoring Martin Prado from second. Stanton’s hit rolled untouched through the second base area because the Phillies’ defense was shifted to the pull side.

“We’ve got to play a shift on him,” Mackanin said of baseball's most fearsome power bat.

The game got out of hand when the bullpen was tagged for four runs in the eighth. Ichiro Suzuki stroked career hit No. 2,997 to get the Marlins’ late rally started.

In the first inning, Suzuki launched a long drive to the gap in right-center. Rightfielder Bourjos ran the ball down and made a terrific catch while crashing into the wall. He left the game with a jammed right shoulder and could miss some time (see story).