Polanco Goes Deep for 2,000th Hit in Phillies Win

Polanco Goes Deep for 2,000th Hit in Phillies Win

It wasn't a walk off or even the game winner, but Placido Polanco's 2000th career hit was a memorable one. In the bottom of the eighth on a soggy evening at Citizens Bank Park, Polly deposited the 1-0 offering from David Carpenter into the flowerbeds in left center. A two-run blast that otherwise amounted to little more than insurance for the Phillies in their 5-1 victory over the Astros went into the books a milestone.

Polanco became the 17th active player to reach 2,000 hits, one part of an all-around productive night for the All-Star third baseman. He also drew a walk after fouling three pitches off his foot during a gritty at bat in the second inning, and twice reached on a fielder's choice, scoring both times. The home run was his first since September 10, 2011.

Spread over two stints, Polanco has spent parts of seven seasons with Philadelphia during his 15-year big league career. He's amassed 732 hits while wearing red pinstripes -- 36.6% of his 2,000 -- and is 75 hits away from surpassing his total in a Detroit Tigers uniform.

[watch video of Placido Polanco's 2,000th hit here]

The bottom half of the Phillies order delivered along with Polly on Monday night. Batting out of the five spot for only the third time in his career, Carlos Ruiz was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Chooch kept the inning alive for Polanco in the eighth with his two-out single, otherwise he might be stuck on 1,999. John Mayberry added two hits, and Freddy Galvis had three, including a pair of RBI singles.

Yet perhaps the real story of the game was Joe Blanton, who battled the elements to pick up his fourth win of 2012. Heavy B pitched seven scoreless innings, and went out to start the eighth, but was quickly pulled after surrendering a lead-off bomb to pinch hitter Marwin Gonzalez. Still a strong outing for Blanton, who allowed six hits and walked one while striking out seven. Antonio Bastardo, Chad Qualls, and Jonathan Papelbon closed out the eighth and ninth.

Blanton is now 4-3 on the season with a 2.96 ERA. He's unbeaten in his last four appearances, three of those victories, lowering his ERA from 4.34 in the process.

It's still raining, and the forecast calls for more on Tuesday, so it's possible the 1 p.m. start will either be delayed or postponed. The hope here is it won't break up this club's rhythm -- the Phillies have taken two straight for the first time since April 30-May 1. Whenever they take the diamond next, it'll be with a chance at their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.