Papelbon's Second Blown Save Hurts More Than His First, Nats Rally to Avoid Phils Sweep

Papelbon's Second Blown Save Hurts More Than His First, Nats Rally to Avoid Phils Sweep

Jonathan Papelbon probably wasn't going to go the whole season without blowing a save, and we were lucky that his first failed conversion of the year--two nights ago, against this same Nats team--was redeemed by a bottom-of-the-ninth Phils rally, capped by a Domonic Brown RBI single to drive home Ben Revere. However, blown saves result in heartbreak more often than not, and tonight, the Philly offense failed to bail out their closer, when a Jayson Werth RBI single off Pap in the 9th tied things up at 2-2, and Ian Desmond broke things wide open with a grand slam in the 11th. Final score: Nats 6, Phils 2.

Remarkably, not only did the Phils have a chance to win this one in the bottom of the ninth again, but it was almost the exact same scenario as it was two nights ago. Not only did the Phils have two on with two out, they had Dom Brown up at the plate again with the chance to let Pap off the hook and send the Philly Phaithful home happy. He even squibbed a soft liner up the middle that looked like it had a chance of depositing in shallow center, as his winner on Monday did. But this time, the ball died gently in the shortstop Desmond's glove, and the Phils never again got a real chance.

Tonight was not the Domonator's night in general. For the second straight night, he went 0-4 with multiple strikeouts--in fact, the aforementioned soft liner in the 9th was his only time even putting the ball in play. Add in some sluggish defense out in left, and Dom is officially in a bad way at the moment, now having gone ten straight games without an extra base hit--this, of course, immediately following a stretch where he homered ten times in 13 games. In a way, this is a relief, because we knew we were gonna get some serious regression to the mean with DomBro sooner or later, but man, it's almost getting to the point where he's as cold now as he was hot previously. (Almost.)

That said, there's plenty of blame to go around in the Phils' lineup tonight, which after a two-run Michael Young homer in the first, went the next 33 outs without bringing a single man across the plate, racking up just two additional hits in the process. The weak offensive effort wasted a stellar pitching outing from Kyle Kendrick, who had one of his best outings of the season against the struggling Washington offense, going 7 2/3rds with six strikeouts, letting up just two hits, a walk and a run in between his 23 outs. Still, he got to hand the ball over to Jonathan Paplebon with the lead, and up until this series, that'd been good enough for the Phils this year. Sigh.

At least the end of the series means no more Jayson Werth for a while. Werth ends the series 4-12 with a homer and four RBIs, as well as a big walk in the 11th inning tonight, all continuing the time-honored tradition of ex-Phils excelling upon their return visits to Philadelphia. The Nats also leave town having reclaimed the runner-up spot in the NL East, Philly falling back to three games under .500 and eight behind the victorious Braves.

Day off tomorrow, then three against the Mets. The really sad thing about the Phils sub-.500 record is how many crap teams they've played over their first 70+ games, and how even with a sweep of the again-lowly Mets, we'll still be a definitively mediocre team with the real meat of the schedule still yet to come. Hopefully a couple more healthy regulars will help with compensate for that--Chooch got a hit tonight, while Chase began his rehab stint in Reading--but man, getting Dom swinging the bat again (and actually hitting the ball while doing so, preferably far) would be pretty nice as well. Otherweise, getting to .500 might be as good as it gets with this team.

Phillies want 2 bats for Velasquez, deal unlikely at this point; Tigers check on Hellickson

Phillies want 2 bats for Velasquez, deal unlikely at this point; Tigers check on Hellickson

ATLANTA – Two days before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Phillies have several pitchers who could be on the move.

The market for Jeremy Hellickson, Saturday night’s starter against the Braves, remains alive. The Phillies have received several offers, but nothing yet to their liking. A strong start against Atlanta on Saturday would certainly help the right-hander's value.

The Phillies had talks with Miami about Hellickson, but the Marlins filled their need for starting pitching by acquiring Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego earlier in the week.

Pittsburgh, Texas, Toronto, Baltimore, the Dodgers and others remain in the market for starting pitching. The Detroit Tigers could be a team to watch on Hellickson. They had a scout come in to watch Hellickson pitch in Atlanta on Saturday night.

The headline-grabbing name on the Phillies’ trade front remains Vince Velasquez. Major league sources continue to tell CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies have had meaningful trade discussions with the Texas Rangers involving the power-armed right-hander.

Sources say a deal is unlikely at this time because the Phillies are seeking a high price and the Rangers could use their prospect resources in their quest to add a more established pitcher like Chris Sale or Chris Archer or a catcher like Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy. But it remains noteworthy that the Phillies have made Velasquez available for the right price.

What is that price?

Sources say the Phillies would like to get two hitters from Texas’ bounty. One of those hitters must be ready to play in the majors now and the other must be close. The Rangers have a number of hitters who fit this description. Outfielder Nomar Mazara is almost certainly untouchable. (He was last year in the Cole Hamels talks). Power-hitting outfielder Joey Gallo, infielder Jurickson Profar and outfielder Lewis Brinson would probably fit the Phils’ wish list.

A source described the Phillies as being “pretty deep” in talks with Texas. The Rangers even dispatched a top scout to watch Velasquez pitch in Atlanta on Friday night. The scout was not in attendance for Saturday night’s game.

Relievers David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez are also in play in the last couple of days before the deadline. The Giants, who need bullpen help, have had scouts tailing the Phillies for a couple of weeks.

More NFL Notes: Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins not at training camp

More NFL Notes: Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins not at training camp

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins did not report to training camp Saturday.

Entering his fourth pro season, Hopkins is holding out for a new contract. He is scheduled to make $1 million in salary in the final season of his rookie contract, though the Texans have picked up his fifth-year option.

Hopkins can be fined up to $40,000 for every day he misses camp.

He comes off a huge season with 111 receptions, 1,521 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns despite inconsistency at quarterback and few other receiving options on the Texans.

Houston general manager Rick Smith said in a statement: "We are disappointed DeAndre has elected not to report to training camp with the rest of his teammates. He has expressed his position regarding his contract status, and we have been clear with both he and his representatives of ours. Our focus is on the 2016 season and all of our collective efforts and attention will be centered on that endeavor."

Hopkins was the 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Clemson. He has started all 48 games in his career, making 239 catches for 3,533 yards and 19 touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl last season.

49ers: Offensive lineman Anthony Davis reinstated by NFL
SAN FRANCISCO -- Right tackle Anthony Davis was reinstated by the NFL on Saturday after an 11-month retirement that he planned to come back from all along.

The San Francisco 49ers made the announcement ahead of their first day of training camp Sunday under new coach Chip Kelly.

Davis was the 49ers' first-round draft choice, the 11th overall pick, in the 2010 draft out of Rutgers. He was affected by a concussion late in the 2014 season.

On June 5, 2015, at age 25, Davis announced his retirement in another surprising offseason departure last year for the 49ers. He became the fourth prominent San Francisco player to retire in a three-month span, joining linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and defensive end Justin Smith. The announcement came four days before the team's mandatory June minicamp.

Also Saturday, San Francisco placed nose tackle Ian Williams on the reserve/non-football injury list (see full story).

Bears: LB Willie Young signs to 2-year extension
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears signed outside linebacker Willie Young to a two-year contract extension on Saturday.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The 30-year-old Young signed with the Bears two years ago after spending his first four seasons with division-rival Detroit. He had a career-high 10 sacks that year before tearing his Achilles tendon in December, but bounced back to play in 15 games with 6 1/2 sacks last season.

MLB Notes: Nationals acquire All-Star closer Mark Melancon from Pirates

MLB Notes: Nationals acquire All-Star closer Mark Melancon from Pirates

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Washington Nationals have acquired All-Star closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Washington sent reliever Felipe Rivero and pitching prospect Taylor Hearn to the Pirates for Melancon, who supplants Jonathan Papelbon as Washington's closer.

Melancon, a 31-year-old right-hander, has 30 saves and a 1.51 ERA this season. He is making $9.65 million and is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

Papelbon is 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA and has allowed eight runs and seven hits in his past three outing. Manager Dusty Baker wouldn't say earlier Saturday whether Papelbon still was his closer. Baker pulled Papelbon from a game Thursday in the ninth inning.

Rivero, a 25-year-old lefty, is 0-3 with a 4.53 ERA this season. Hearn is a 21-year-old lefty who was the Nationals' fifth-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft (see full story).

GIANTS: Pence back after 48-game absence
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right fielder Hunter Pence was activated Saturday and in the starting lineup against the Nationals after missing 48 games with a strained right hamstring that required surgery.

San Francisco hopes Pence will bring some much-needed life to a club that had lost 11 of 13 since the All-Star break.

Newly acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez made his first start since joining the team in a trade from Minnesota on Thursday and having his first at-bat Friday. Nunez was playing shortstop Saturday because Brandon Crawford, who lined into a bases-loaded triple play during Friday's 4-1 loss, had a sore left hand from a swing early in the game.

Center fielder Denard Span also was out of the lineup because of a tender quadriceps from a collision at home plate Friday.

The Giants designated for assignment infielder Ramiro Pena to clear roster room for Pence's return.  

MARINERS: Karns to DL, Martin recalled
CHICAGO -- The Seattle Mariners have placed right-hander Nathan Karns on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain a day after he was roughed up in a relief appearance.

Right-hander Cody Martin was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma before Saturday's game against the Cubs.

Chicago scored five runs in two innings off Karns in Friday's 12-1 romp. He gave up three hits, walked three and allowed a home run to David Ross.

Karns began the season as a starter, but was moved to the bullpen in June. He has a 5.15 ERA.

Martin has appeared in two games and thrown four innings for Seattle this season, allowing one run and five hits.