Hernandez cruises, states case to stay in rotation

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Hernandez cruises, states case to stay in rotation

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MILWAUKEE – Roberto Hernandez’s spot in the starting pitching rotation will be the subject of debate for Phillies officials during the All-Star break.

Cliff Lee is expected to come off the disabled list (and audition for contending teams) right after the break and the Phillies will need to clear a spot for him.

Unless there’s an injury, a trade or something unforeseen, either Hernandez or David Buchanan will have to come out of the rotation. Hernandez would go to the bullpen if he’s the guy. Buchanan could return to the minors if he’s the guy.

In his final start before the All-Star break Wednesday night, Hernandez stated his case to stay in the rotation.

The right-handed sinkerballer pitched his best game of the season –- eight innings, three singles, one run –- in a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers (see Instant Replay).

The Brewers are scuffling (they are 1-7 in July) and All-Stars Ryan Braun (back) and Jonathan Lucroy (night off) were out the lineup, but Hernandez was impressive just the same. He got 12 outs on groundballs. He is now 4-8 with a 4.22 ERA.

Buchanan, 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA in nine big-league starts, goes for the Phillies on Thursday afternoon.

The Phils have beaten the Brewers in the first three games of the series and can sweep with a win. That’s kind of amazing when you think about it. The Phils lost five of the first six games on this 10-game trip. A win Thursday will give them a .500 trip, but they are still far from contention having been the last team in the NL East to reach 40 wins.

Manager Ryne Sandberg didn’t want to touch the question of who exits the rotation when Lee comes back.

“We’ll make a decision when the time comes,” he said.

Hernandez wasn’t in the mood to talk about it, either.

“I only control pitching,” he said. “I don’t control the decisions. When they give me the ball, I pitch. I want to stay (in the rotation), but I don’t make the decision.”

The game was played in a good-ol’-days two hours, 15 minutes. That’s because Hernandez and his counterpart, Kyle Lohse, were both so efficient. Lohse was hurt by a pair of homers –- a solo shot by Chase Utley in the first and a two-run blow by Jimmy Rollins in the sixth -– in his eight innings of work.

Hernandez threw a very manageable 84 pitches, but Sandberg did not let him go out for the ninth. His reasoning?

“I thought about it,” Sandberg said. “If we would have scored one more run, I would have sent him back out. Other than that, he did his job. Just let (Jonathan) Papelbon have a fresh start.”

Papelbon breezed to his 22nd save and third in as many nights. After the game, he talked about taking his talents to a contending club (see story).

Was Hernandez disappointed about not getting a chance to go for the complete game?

“I control the pitching, not the decisions,” he said.

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick on Saturday night made his fourth rehab appearance in Triple A during Lehigh Valley's 13-1 rout of the Louisville Bats in Allentown.

Kendrick went 1 for 5 with a run scored and three strikeouts. He also grounded into a double play and left two runners in scoring position.

It was his second rehab game playing third base. He played third during his appearance in the IronPigs' 8-4 loss Thursday to the Indianapolis Indians. He was 0 for 1 in three plate appearances with a run scored and was hit by a pitch twice (see story).

The Phillies' plan for Kendrick was to have him play a minimum four games at Lehigh Valley. He played left field in two games and third base twice. Pete Mackanin said Wednesday that Kendrick would also get a game at first base but he hasn't gotten a game at first yet.

There is a chance Kendrick could be recalled Sunday before the Phillies’ series finale against the Cincinnati Reds depending on how he feels.

Kendrick has been sidelined since April 15 with an oblique strain. In 10 games before the injury, Kendrick went 13 for 39 (.333) with five extra-base hits and four walks while exclusively playing left field.

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

MIAMI -- Mike Trout hit his major league-leading 16th homer, and the Los Angeles Angels reached the .500 mark for the 12th time this season by beating Miami 5-2 Saturday.

Trout's first-inning homer into the beer garden in left field was estimated at 443 feet, which pleased a fair portion of the crowd at Marlins Park.

"Hate Fish Love Trout," read a sign held by an Angels fans.

J.C. Ramirez (5-3) limited Miami to an unearned run in seven innings and benefited from excellent defense. Bud Norris, who tweaked his right knee and left Friday's game after throwing only three pitches, gave up a homer to Marcell Ozuna in the ninth (see full recap).

Strasburg K's career-high 15, Nats down Padres 3-0
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg dominated San Diego with a career-high 15 strikeouts while allowing three hits over seven innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Padres 3-0 on Saturday.

Strasburg (6-1) singled and scored Washington's first run on Bryce Harper's RBI grounder in the third inning. Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer for the second consecutive game.

San Diego's lineup offered little resistance against Strasburg the day after Max Scherzer dominated the Padres with 13 strikeouts in Washington's 5-1 win.

Strasburg struck out the side in the third and sixth and had at least two in the first six innings.

The right-hander previously struck out 14 batters twice including his Major League debut on June 8, 2010. He set a personal best by setting down Franchy Cordero in the seventh (see full recap).

Yankees held hitless into 6th by Cotton, but beat A's 3-2
NEW YORK -- Oakland rookie Jharel Cotton held the Yankees hitless until Matt Holliday launched a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning that sent resurgent CC Sabathia and New York to a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was in the right spot for a pair of key catches to boost the AL East leaders, who won with just two hits.

Sabathia (5-2) has won three straight starts for the first time since April 2013. The 36-year-old lefty pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Dellin Betances escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth, an inning that included the ejections of A's hitter Jed Lowrie and manager Bob Melvin for arguing strike three calls. Betances closed for his fifth save.

Cotton (3-5) was promoted from Triple-A Nashville before the game. He began the season in the Athletics' rotation but was sent down to the minors May 11 to refine his game (see full recap).

Bautista hits 3-run HR, Blue Jays beat Rangers 3-1
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer that backed Marco Estrada, and the Toronto Blue Bays beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 Saturday and matched their longest winning streak this season at five.

Shin-soo Choo homered into the center-field party deck on the first pitch of the game from Marco Estrada, but Bautista hit a two-out drive in the fifth, his eighth home run in May after one in April.

Estrada (4-2) allowed four hits in six innings to win for the third time in four starts. Aaron Loup got one out in the seventh, Ryan Tepera finished the inning and Joe Smith worked the eighth. Roberto Osuna threw a perfect ninth for his ninth save, completing a six-hitter.

Darvish (5-3) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. He had been 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in six starts since losing April 18 at Oakland. Texas has lost five in a row for the first time this year (see full recap).