Hamels strikes out Victorino in solid outing vs. Red Sox

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Hamels strikes out Victorino in solid outing vs. Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Phillies opening day starter Cole Hamels faced a Red Sox lineup Thursday night that closely resembled Boston’s opening day lineup. Hamels held the Red Sox to one run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six innings. He threw 81 pitches, 53 for strikes.
 
Hamels’ outing went for naught, though, as the Red Sox scored five runs off right-hander Michael Stutes in the eighth to win, 6-1.
 
The Phillies got a run off Red Sox starter John Lackey in the first inning, when Pete Orr singled and Jimmy Rollins doubled with one out. Michael Young’s groundout scored Orr.
 
Hamels gave up a run in the second after Will Middlebrooks led off with a double and Jonny Gomes singled. Daniel Nava’s sacrifice fly to Laynce Nix in left scored Middlebrooks.
 
Hamels had runners on base in every inning but the fourth -- including when he allowed two-out baserunners in the first and third -- but limited the Red Sox offense. After a two-out walk to Dustin Pedroia in the first, he got Mike Napoli to fly out to Ben Revere in center. After Pedroia’s two-out single in the third, he struck out Napoli.
 
In the fifth, Sox No. 9 hitter Jose Iglesias reached on a bunt-single with one out. But, after striking out Jacoby Ellsbury, Hamels picked Iglesias off first to end the inning.
 
Hamels started his final frame striking out former teammate Shane Victorino looking on a curveball, the only one of  Hamels’ five strikeouts that was called.
 
“Actually, that's probably one of the best ones I've thrown in a really long time,” Hamels said. “Even with last season. So I guess I'll have to hear from him, because I know he's obviously not used to seeing me throw that, even though he was out in center field.
 
“He might just be silent,” Hamels joked of the loquacious Victorino.
 
Hamels was satisfied with his changeup and curveball. Facing a lineup that was representative of the regular season gave him a good read on his pitches.
 
“Now that we're kind of playing more of the big-time guys, guys' swings are obviously a lot better,” he said. “I think that's kind of a pitch, or pitches, that I definitely need to have down. Because I struggled with it early on, now it's building up the pitch count, able to kind of work for more innings, opposed to throwing only four or five when you have 30 or 40 pitches. Now I'm able to throw it like it's a game situation. I've got a really good feel on it. I still think I got away with some early on because I was doing something with my mechanics. Then I fixed it later on. I was able to get the action on my changeup and then my curveball's coming really well, too. It's not bad.”
 
Hamels’ next outing is scheduled for Tuesday, his last spring training start before opening day against the Braves.
 
“I think my body's starting to catch up,” Hamels said. “Just with, you build up the pitch count every five days, you build up the pitch count and you're still working out as hard as you possibly can so your body's not catching up. Obviously, as spring goes on your body starts to kind of get going. It always helps with the extra adrenaline. I think you get more zip on your ball.
 
“The speed will come once we get into the normal big-league season.”
 
Getting a start under the lights at this point in the spring, as he did against the Sox, helps in getting ready for the regular season, too, he said.
 
“It does. You're starting to look at the clock become a little more familiar,” he said. “Getting in the routine, which is huge. And that's just, that's how you get comfortable and that's how you go out and are able to execute and be the pitcher I'm capable of and everybody knows I'm capable of.”
 
The Red Sox got five runs in the seventh off Stutes. With two outs, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Nava walked. Iglesias grounded to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, whose toss to second baseman Freddy Galvis was late. Matty Johnson, running for Saltalamacchia, went home, beating the throw from Galvis.
 
After another walk to Ellsbury, Victorino’s triple to right scored three runs, ending Stutes’ outing. Michael Nesseth entered, giving up a double to Pedroia, scoring Victorino.
 
Left-hander Jeremy Horst pitched a scoreless eighth, giving up one hit.

Notes
• Outfielder Delmon Young, recovering from offseason ankle surgery, took balls in the outfield and ran the bases during workouts in Clearwater. Young will open the season on the disabled list. Team officials have estimated that he could be ready to be activated in mid- to late-April.
 
• The Phillies host the Atlanta Braves in Clearwater on Friday afternoon. Lefty pitching prospect Adam Morgan will come up from minor-league camp to make the start. The Phils needed a starter because Roy Halladay, recovering from a stomach bug, has been pushed back a day. He will pitch in a minor-league game Saturday.
 
• Catcher Carlos Ruiz was hit on the left hand with two outs in the ninth inning by a pitch from Anthony Carter. His condition was not known after the game.
 
• Galvis went 2 for 3 with a triple, the only Phillies batter with multiple hits.
 
• On seeing and facing former teammate Victorino, Hamels said:
 
“I think you're going to miss his personality and especially how good he is in the outfield. But, you just know it's baseball and I'm trying to get the guy out no matter if I’m good friends with him or not. But he is, he's always been a good friend. I was just trying to get him out because now it's bragging rights. You don't ever want a guy to get the bragging rights on you.
 
“Outside the lines, we were joking around, talking to each other. I think when I get between the lines I want to win. I don't care who I'm facing. Even if it's my mom or my brother or something. I'm trying to get him out. So, it is. It's serious business. I love obviously that I'm able to go out there. You just want to be the best no matter who you're facing.”

• Hamels on his beard: “No, it's not going to stay. … It's getting annoying. Getting food on it. I'm like, ‘Geez, no wonder my dad never had a beard.’ No one in my family's ever had a beard.”

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

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

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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.

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.

Best of MLB: Padres score 4 off Papelbon in 9th, take series from Nationals

Best of MLB: Padres score 4 off Papelbon in 9th, take series from Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The San Diego Padres' three-city road trip didn't begin well. Earning their first series victory against the Washington Nationals since 2011 is helping to turn it around.

Alex Dickerson and Ryan Schimpf hit back-to-back homers off Shawn Kelley in the eighth inning and the Padres added four runs off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth to beat the Nationals 10-6 on Sunday.

"We've been on the road for a little bit, and it's definitely good to come here against a team like this and get two wins out of it," said Schimpf, whose team suffered a four-game sweep in St. Louis before winning two of three in Washington.

Ryan Buchter (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the victory.

With the game tied at 6, Wil Myers drew a one-out walk off Papelbon and moved to second on a wild pitch before Yangervis Solarte's RBI single. The Padres added two more singles to load the bases, setting up Alexei Ramirez's three-run double (see full recap).

Matz earns 1st win since May as Mets beat Marlins
MIAMI -- Helped by a couple of small victories against Giancarlo Stanton, Steven Matz earned a big win for the New York Mets.

Matz pitched six innings Sunday for his first win since May, twice escaping trouble by getting Stanton to ground out with a runner in scoring position, and the Mets took the rubber game of their series against Miami, 3-0.

"It was good to go out there and put up zeroes and get a win," Matz said.

The Mets won two of three games in the series and returned home trailing second-place Miami by half a game in the NL East.

"This was crunch time for us," manager Terry Collins said. "We couldn't lose any more ground. This was a good series for us to win."

Matz (8-6) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out six. Pitching despite a bone spur in his elbow, he had been 0-5 in his past nine starts with an ERA of 4.73 (see full recap).

Reimold's HR helps Orioles beat Indians 5-3 for 3-game sweep
BALTIMORE -- This is how good things are going for the Orioles at home this season: After blowing a late-inning lead, Baltimore launched the game-winning uprising with a third strike.

Pinch-hitter Nolan Reimold hit a decisive two-out homer in the ninth inning after Pedro Alvarez reached on a strikeout, and the Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians 5-3 Sunday for a three-game sweep.

Cody Allen (2-4) began the ninth by striking out Alvarez, but the ball eluded catcher Roberto Perez. After fielding the bouncing ball off the backstop, Perez hit Alvarez in the helmet with the throw for an error.

"As long as I have been playing baseball the rule is you run down the baseline," Alvarez said. "I saw the ball get away from him and I just ran down to first base."

A sacrifice bunt and a strikeout followed before Reimold lined a 2-0 pitch into the left-field seats (see full recap).

DeShields homers as Rangers top Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Delino DeShields is known for his speed, stealing 101 bases in 2012 in the minors, not for his power.

DeShields homered in the seventh inning to break a tie and the Texas Rangers defeated the Kansas City Royals 2-1 on Sunday.

DeShields, who was recalled Thursday from Triple-A Round Rock, walked and doubled before leading off the seventh with his third home run. DeShields hit a 2-1 pitch from Luke Hochevar out to left.

"It so happened that today I was the guy that got us the go-ahead run," DeShields said. "I was just trying to hit the ball hard. I wasn't looking for anything specific. I wanted to get on base. Before I had gotten on base in every at-bat.

"With the game tied and if I get myself in scoring position, there's a good chance for me to touch home plate. I got into it pretty good and got it over the fence, but the main focus was just putting the barrel on the ball and try to get on base."

The loss dropped the Royals to 48-49, the first time the World Series champions have been below .500 since May 15 when they were 18-19. The Royals have lost 13 of 19 games in July (see full recap).