A.J. Burnett flops in final start before deadline

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A.J. Burnett flops in final start before deadline

BOX SCORE

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.

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff looking for consistency vs. Rockies' potent offense

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff looking for consistency vs. Rockies' potent offense

Phillies (15-26) vs. Rockies (28-17)
Coverage starts at  6:30 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies return home after a disastrous 2-7 road trip to host the NL West-leading Colorado Rockies in a four-game split.

Jerad Eickhoff gets the start for the Phils and is coming off of his best start in a month, but has a tough matchup vs. the Rockies’ potent offense.

Here are five things to know:

1. Like the old Eick
Eickhoff has been the model of consistency for Phillies pitchers since he joined the club in 2015, with 31 quality starts (six or more innings with no more than three earned runs) in 49 career games. But Eickhoff struggled recently, before regaining his form in his last start at Texas.

In his three prior starts — vs. the Dodgers, Cubs and Mariners — Eickhoff averaged just 4.2 innings per start as his ERA ballooned to 4.76. But the righty seemed to regain his form vs. the Rangers in his last start, a six-inning, two-earned-run outing.

Building off of that step will be a tall task, though against an explosive Rockies lineup.

2. Better hitters than Rocky
The hard-hitting Rockies are coming to town.

Colorado boasts one of the league’s best offenses, ranking fourth in runs scored, 10th in home runs and fifth in extra-base hits. Take the Rockies out of the thin air at Coors Field, and the numbers tell a different story, though. On the road, Colorado drops to 12th in runs, 14th in homers and 10th in extra-base hits. Still solid numbers, but nothing that jumps off the page at you. The Phillies (as bad as they are on the road) have more extra-base hits.

The Rockies are led by Mark Reynolds (yes, that Mark Reynolds), with 12 homers and 39 RBI. Shockingly, Reynolds — who has set the all-time single-season strikeout record in a season — is leading the team with a .323 batting average. 

Just about the only thing you don’t have to worry about with the Rockies’ offense is their speed. The Rockies rank dead last in MLB with just 11 steals on the year. 

3. Not the same old Rockies
Despite the dip in numbers on the road, the Rockies are still 15-7 on the road this season, the second-best mark in MLB, behind only the Astros.

What’s different about this year’s team, unlike years past, is the pitching. This year, they’re a middling staff, which is actually a huge improvement for the club. Last season, Rockies pitchers ranked in the bottom five in MLB in almost all categories: 27th in ERA (4.91), 28th in runs allowed (860) and 28th in opponent batting average (.274), just to name a few.

This year, the Rockies have knocked off nearly half a run per game (4.48 ERA) and rank 13th in the entire league with a .250 opponent batting average. With an offense like theirs, a middling pitching staff could be all the Rockies need to earn a postseason bid.

4. Oh, 'Dubel
What’s happened to Odubel Herrera?

After an All-Star 2016 season, Herrera has been one of the Phillies’ biggest disappointments in 2017. Batting just .236 on the year, Herrera is on pace to easily set a career high in strikeouts (168) and career lows in runs (60) and extra-base hits (39). Not a good look for Herrera after signing a five-year deal to be a building block of the future in the offseason. However, there is hope: In his career, Herrera has increased his batting average, runs scored and OPS each month as the season has gone along. 

5. This and that
•Jeff Hoffman will make a spot start for the Rockies on Monday. He’s the Rockies' third-ranked prospect by Baseball America and has a 4.97 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 19 walks in 10 career MLB games. Batters are hitting .282 off him this season.

•Eickhoff’s numbers have risen with Cameron Rupp behind the plate. With Rupp catching, Eickhoff has a 3.53 ERA as opposed to a 3.13 ERA with Carlos Ruiz catching.

•After a red-hot start to the month, Aaron Altherr has cooled off over the last week, hitting just .231 with more strikeouts (five) than RBI (four). 

Best of MLB: Rockies hit 4 HRs, extend franchise-best start in win over Reds

Best of MLB: Rockies hit 4 HRs, extend franchise-best start in win over Reds

CINCINNATI -- Rookie pitcher Kyle Freeland hit one of Colorado's four solo homers off Bronson Arroyo on Sunday, leading the Rockies to a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

The Rockies extended the best start in franchise history by taking two of three from slumping Cincinnati. They have the NL's best record at 28-17.

Freeland (5-2) remained unbeaten on the road, giving up four runs -- three earned -- in 5 2/3 innings. Joey Votto and Scott Schebler homered off him in the sixth. The left-hander is 3-0 in five road starts.

Freeland also doubled and hit his first major league homer off Arroyo (3-4), connecting on a 71 mph pitch for a drive that carried over the wall in right field. Carlos Gonzalez, DJ LeMahieu and Pat Valaika also had solo shots off Arroyo, who has given up 15 homers -- second-most in the NL (see full recap).

Gomes' 5 RBIs help Indians sweep Astros
HOUSTON -- Yan Gomes homered and tied a career high with five RBIs to lead the Cleveland Indians over the Houston Astros 8-6 on Sunday and complete a three-game sweep.

Gomes' third-inning homer off Joe Musgrove (3-4) gave the Indians a 3-1 lead, and Cleveland added three more runs in the fourth. The Indians are 5-1 against Houston this season, dealing the Astros two of their three series losses.

Danny Salazar (3-4) yielded three runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run homer off Zach McAllister on the 13th pitch of an at-bat with two outs and the ninth, and Alex Bregman homered on the next pitch. McAllister then struck out Nori Aoki.

Musgrove allowed a season-high seven runs and matched a high with eight hits. He lasted three-plus innings in his shortest start this season, and his ERA rose from 4.57 to 5.63 (see full recap).

Gardner, Sabathia lead Yanks over Rays, avoid sweep
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Brett Gardner hit his eighth home run, one more than this 2016 total, and CC Sabathia won consecutive starts for the first time in nearly a year to help the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 Sunday and avoid a three-game sweep.

Rookie Aaron Judge made a full extension diving backhand catch on the right field warning track in the sixth to rob Evan Longoria of a tying extra-base hit, starting a double play that doubled up Corey Dickerson at first.

Didi Gregorius had four hits, including an RBI single, as New York won for just the fourth time in 11 games.

Sabathia (4-2), coming off a win at Kansas City, allowed two runs and four hits in five-plus innings. He had not won back-to-back starts since June 10 against Detroit and six days later at Minnesota.

Tyler Clippard stranded Kevin Kiermaier at third in the seventh when he relieved Chad Green and retired Logan Morrison on a flyout on the 11th pitch of an at-bat. Dellin Betances got four outs -- three on strikeouts -- for his second save (see full recap).

Trout, Cron power Angels past Mets 12-5 to avoid sweep
NEW YORK -- Mike Trout homered, doubled and drove in three runs, C.J. Cron hit a grand slam and the Los Angeles Angels bolted to a big lead in beating the New York Mets 12-5 Sunday.

Aiming to avoid a three-game sweep, the Angels built a 9-0 lead by the third inning. Andrelton Simmons and Jefry Marte also homered for Los Angeles.

Matt Reynolds, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce hit home runs as the Mets tried to rally.

Cron's long slam highlighted a five-run first, and Trout hit his 14th homer and Marte followed with a home run in the second that chased Tommy Milone (1-2). Trout lined an RBI double off the center field wall in the third.

Jesse Chavez (4-5) pitched into the sixth and left soon after Bruce's three-run drive made it 9-5 (see full recap).