A.J. Burnett flops in final start before deadline


A.J. Burnett flops in final start before deadline


NEW YORK -- A gaggle of scouts from pitching-needy teams assembled behind the backstop at Citi Field on Monday night for a matchup between two clubs bound for Nowhereville.

The attraction: Veteran right-handers A.J. Burnett and Bartolo Colon. Neither is the caliber of a David Price, a Jon Lester or a Cliff Lee, but both are serviceable second-tier starters that could probably help a contending team.

In his final start before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, Burnett flopped. He was hit hard in the Phillies’ 7-1 loss to the New York Mets (see Instant Replay).

“Just a brutal effort,” said Burnett, who allowed eight hits, five for extra bases, as his record fell to 6-10 with a 4.15 ERA in 23 starts.

Colon, 41, carried a shutout into the eighth inning before the Phillies scored their only run of the game on back-to-back doubles by Domonic Brown and Carlos Ruiz.

The Phillies had 13 hits (four each by Ruiz and Marlon Byrd) on the night, but just two extra-base hits. They left 12 men on base.

“The big hit,” manager Ryne Sandberg lamented. “The extra-base hit with men on base to score multiple runs. That’s something that has lacked.”

The Phils have played 106 games and scored two or fewer runs in 40 of them. Only San Diego has scored two or fewer runs in more games (51).

Scouts from Toronto, Kansas City and St. Louis were all in attendance. All are looking for a starting pitcher.

After this one, Colon, owed $11 million for next season, might be more attractive to those teams than Burnett, who has a player option that could be worth as much as $12.75 million next season, depending on how many starts he ends up making this season.

Unlike teammate Jonathan Papelbon, who can’t wait to get out of Philadelphia, Burnett is not eager to move on.

“This is my team,” he has said of the Phillies several times in recent weeks.

After his final start before the deadline, Burnett made it clear he was in no mood to talk about a possible trade.

“I have no clue [what’s going to happen],” he said. “I don’t like to talk about it. As soon as I hear talk about it, I walk the other way. I don’t want to be around it. I focus on today, the game that’s ahead of us, not where we could end up or what could happen.”

If the Phillies are able to make a deal before Thursday, outfielder Byrd and reliever Antonio Bastardo probably stand the best chance to go. Byrd, who had four singles, is still coveted by Seattle, but the Mariners would have to guarantee his $8 million option for 2016 to get him. Bastardo had a rough homestand, but there are still enough teams looking for relievers that he could go. But he certainly didn't help his value with his poor work at home.

As for Lee and Cole Hamels. Well, Lee probably hasn’t shown enough in two starts off the disabled list to have top value. He could still be an August waiver deal. Hamels is available -- he, along with every other Phillie, has been for weeks -- but the Phils want a huge haul for him.

After Monday night’s game, Sandberg was asked what he considered the greater need going forward, starting pitching or offense.

“Overall, I think you need starting pitching to compete,” he said. “Generally speaking, good pitching with defense can give you a chance.”

Read into this comment and you can see the skipper favors keeping Hamels. That is the organization’s mindset, as well: Build around Hamels -- unless some team blooooows you away.

Burnett threw 131 pitches in his previous start, but said that had nothing to do with his problems on Monday night.

“Everything was flat, up, no life,” he said of his pitches.

Burnett had a lot of trouble keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate. That’s a recipe for hard-hit balls and the Mets had several. They had three doubles on their way to scoring four times in the first inning. Travis d’Arnaud belted a three-run homer with two outs in the fifth.

“We dug ourselves an early hole,” Sandberg said.

The manager has said that a lot this season. And chances are he will again before it's all over.

World Series: Corey Kluber, Indians shut out Cubs in Game 1

World Series: Corey Kluber, Indians shut out Cubs in Game 1


CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber got the Cleveland Indians off to a striking start and Roberto Perez put away Chicago in the Cubs' first World Series game since 1945.

Kluber dominated into the seventh inning, Perez homered twice and the Indians beat the Cubs 6-0 in the opener Tuesday night. AL Championship Series MVP Andrew Miller escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh and got out of trouble in the eighth, preserving a three-run lead.

"It's almost like you have that extra level of intensity," said Kluber, who became the first Series pitcher to strike out eight batters in the first three innings.

In a matchup between the teams with baseball's longest championship droughts, the Indians scored twice in the first off October ace Jon Lester.

Perez drove in four runs with a fourth-inning solo shot and a three-run drive in the eighth against Hector Rondon, becoming the first Cleveland player and the only No. 9 batter to homer twice in a Series game.

"I've come a long ways," said Perez, who has three home runs in 27 at-bats during the postseason after hitting three in 153 during the regular season.

Francisco Lindor added three hits as the Indians improved to 8-1 this postseason. Cleveland manager Terry Francona is 9-0 in the Series, including sweeps by his Boston teams in 2004 and `07.

The Game 1 winner has taken the title in the last six Series and 17 of 19.

"I have no concerns," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's the first game. I'm fine, we're fine."

Trevor Bauer, trying to come back from a sliced pinkie caused by a freak drone accident, starts Game 2 for the Indians on Wednesday night against Jake Arrieta. Because the forecast called for an increased chance of rain later in the evening, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of moving up the first pitch by an hour to 7:08 p.m.

Kluber painted the outside corner, and 24 of his 59 strikes were called by plate umpire Larry Vanover. Twelve batters were caught looking, including seven Cubs.

"I think his ball was moving too much today," said Perez, Cleveland's catcher. "We got guys off balance the whole night."

Kluber combined with Miller and Cody Allen to fan 15, and Chicago went 2 for 15 with 10 strikeouts with runners on base.

With the Indians hoping for their first title since 1948 and the Cubs seeking their first since 1908, Lester stumbled in the opening inning.

Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs off Lester, who had been 3-0 with an 0.43 ERA in three Series starts. Jose Ramirez had a run-scoring swinging bunt single and Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch. Perez connected in the fourth for a 3-0 lead.

Teams that combined for 174 seasons of futility, America's biggest droughts since the Great Plains' Dust Bowl of the 1930s, captivated even many non-baseball fans.

On a night of civic pride, LeBron James and the NBA's Cavaliers received their championship rings next door prior to their season opener, and Cleveland hosted a World Series opener for the first time.

The Cubs had not played in the Series since five weeks after Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender ending World War II.

Kluber, whose win in the All-Star Game gave the AL home-field advantage on the Series, improved to 3-1 in the postseason and lowered his ERA to a sparkling 0.74.

He was pitching on six days' rest, and his two-seam fastball was darting through the strike zone. Kluber struck out nine in six innings and walked none

Kyle Schwarber, making a surprise return in his first big league game since tearing knee ligaments on April 7, doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth -- a drive kept in by a stiff wind on a 50-degree night. Kluber then got Javier Baez to fly out.

Zobrist's leadoff double in the seventh finished Kluber, and Cleveland loaded the bases with no outs against Miller on Schwarber's walk and Baez's single. Pinch-hitter Willson Contreras flied to Rajai Davis in short center, and Davis threw home rather than double up Schwarber, who had strayed far off second.

Using his intimidating slider, Miller struck out Addison Russell and David Ross to escape the jam, then fanned Schwarber to strand runners at the corners in the eighth, his 46th pitch. Miller has thrown 20 scoreless innings in postseason play, including 13 2/3 innings with 24 strikeouts this year.

Allen completed Cleveland's fourth postseason shutout and second in a row.

Ramirez also had three hits each for the Indians, who beat Toronto in the ALCS despite hitting just .168. Zobrist had three hit for the Cubs.

Lester gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, and was rattled by Vanover's calls, barking at the umpire in the third, then stopping for a discussion at the inning's end.

Up next
While Arrieta went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA during the regular season, he struggled to a 5.01 ERA in his final four starts. He allowed four runs over five innings in Game 3 of the NLCS.

Bauer lasted only two outs in his ALCS when his pinkie, cut in a drone accident, began bleeding.

They're back
Dexter Fowler took a called third strike from Kluber leading off the game, becoming the first Cubs player to bat in the Series since Don Johnson hit into a game-ending forceout against Detroit's Hal Newhouser in Game 7 in 1945.

Take a seat
Chicago benched right fielder Jason Heyward, in a 2-for-28 postseason slump, and started Chris Coghlan.

6 months later, Cubs' Kyle Schwarber returns for World Series Game 1

6 months later, Cubs' Kyle Schwarber returns for World Series Game 1

CLEVELAND — Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber's rehab finished just in time for the World Series.

Schwarber will bat fifth and be the designated hitter for the National League champions in Game 1 on Tuesday night against Cleveland's Corey Kluber. Schwarber hasn't played in the majors since tearing ligaments in his left knee on April 7 in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler.

Dallas Cowboys orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Cooper operated 12 days later to repair torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. He was expected to miss the rest of the season but was cleared to return on Oct. 17.

Schwarber played a pair of games in the Arizona Fall League, going 1 for 6 with a double and two walks, and flew to Cleveland on Monday.