Instant Replay: Giants 2, Phillies 1

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Instant Replay: Giants 2, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

Jonathan Papelbon had not saved a game since July 11 when he entered Thursday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park with a one-run lead.

By the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around, Papelbon still had not saved a game since the second week of July.

Papelbon blew his sixth save opportunity of the season and his sixth in his last 13 chances on Thursday night, taking a much-needed victory from starter Cole Hamels and serving it up for the Giants, 2-1.

For the Phillies, the loss was the second in a row to the Giants and the 10th in the 11 games since the All-Star break. At 50-58, the Phillies fell to 13½ games behind the first-place Braves in the NL East.

Starting pitching report
It was another hard-luck no-decision for Hamels, who pitched brilliantly for eight innings and set himself up for the win with an RBI single in the fifth inning.

Hamels scattered seven hits and a walk over eight innings. He struck out five and threw 113 pitches. After Buster Posey singled with two outs in the first, Hamels retired eight in a row and 12 out of 14. He also got out of a one-out jam in the fourth and held the Giants to just 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

For the Giants, Matt Cain also went eight innings, allowing just one run on six hits with two walks. Cain retired the first 11 hitters he faced and 14 of the first 15. He also had some good fielding on his side, too. Pinch-runner Michael Martinez was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a single to left by John Mayberry Jr. in the seventh and Jimmy Rollins was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice.

Bullpen report
Papelbon’s fastball topped out at 92-mph as he blew his sixth save since June 17. He allowed four hits and a walk in serving up two runs. The closer had three two-strike counts in which he gave up two singles and a walk.

Sergio Romo put the first three hitters he faced on base and managed to wiggle out of the jam. An error, bunt single and a hit batsman loaded the bases, but Romo got out of it with back-to-back shallow flyouts and a groundout to sew up his 25th save.

At the plate
Of the Phillies’ seven hits, four of them came from the bottom half of the order. Hamels had the only RBI on a bloop single in the fifth, which is fitting considering how little run support the lefty has received this year.

Hamels leads the majors with 13 losses this year mostly because of a dearth of run support. Headed into Thursday’s game, Hamels received just 3.38 runs of support per game, a total that ranked him 84th among the 92 starting pitchers to qualify.

Up next
The homestand continues on Friday when the first-place Atlanta Braves come to town for three games. Ethan Martin will make his big-league debut for the Phillies in Friday night’s game against right-hander Kris Medlen (7-10, 3.74).

Acquired in the trade that sent Shane Victorino to the Dodgers at the deadline last year, Martin went 11-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 21 starts for Triple A Lehigh Valley. Martin had 107 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings.

The Phillies have not determined the rest of the rotation for the weekend. Cliff Lee would have pitched on Friday, but the neck strain that kept him from starting last Saturday in Detroit appears to still be an issue.

The Braves will send Brandon Beachy (0-0, 17.18) to the mound on Saturday afternoon with lefty Alex Wood (1-2, 3.51) pitching on Sunday night.

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen -- a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever -- that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

Rangers: Gomez reaches deal to stay with team
OXON HILL, Md. -- Carlos Gomez is staying with the Texas Rangers.

The outfielder agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract, a deal subject to a successful physical.

"Many of the objectives of the Rangers for Carlos go beyond one year," his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "Certainly Carlos really enjoyed the team and the environment and feels he's got a great chance to win. So I think both parties' objectives were met by that deal."

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center as general manager Jon Daniels structured an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left. Ian Desmond left Wednesday for a $70 million, five-year deal with Colorado.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for Houston and was released by the Astros in August. He signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

"J.D. was very clear from the onset about them wanting Carlos back, and we've had communication since the season's end to pursue that," Boras said. "So it was something in our minds and in their minds. It was just a constant dialogue."

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

Red Sox: Sale not worried about being ace
BOSTON -- New Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale says he isn't worried that he might not be the ace of the pitching staff after being traded from the White Sox to Boston.

The 27-year-old lefty told reporters on Wednesday, "We play for a trophy, not a tag."

Sale was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings. He was the top starting pitcher on the market, and the Red Sox gave up touted prospect Yoan Moncada as part of a package to land him.

Sale has been an All-Star for five straight seasons and finished in the top six of the Cy Young Award voting each time. He joins a staff that already includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and '12 winner David Price (see full story).

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have a history of adding players in the Rule 5 draft. The annual event, designed to prevent teams from stockpiling minor-league talent without giving it a shot in the majors, has netted the Phillies players such as Dave Hollins, Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera over the years.

The year’s Rule 5 draft will be held Thursday morning at the conclusion of the winter meetings, but it’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will be active. After adding 11 prospects to their 40-man roster two weeks ago, the Phillies are simply out of room. Selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft would first require the Phils to cut a player loose and that did not seem to be the plan as the sun set Wednesday.

While an addition is unlikely, there’s a strong possibility that the Phils will lose a player or two in the draft. Outfielder Andrew Pullin, a 2012 draft pick, is the likeliest to go. He hit .322 with a .885 OPS between Single A and Double A in 2016 and a number of teams are buzzing about him. A late-season elbow injury prevented Pullin from playing in the Arizona Fall League and factored into the Phillies’ decision to leave him unprotected.

If a team rolls the dice on Pullin, it must keep him in the majors all season or offer him back to the Phillies.

Other players who could go include first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi, outfielder Carlos Tocci and pitchers Miguel Nunez and Hoby Milner.

All quiet for now
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spent Wednesday meeting with agents and representatives from other clubs.

“Nothing is hot at the moment,” he said late in the day.

Klentak has brought back starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, added relievers Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek and traded for outfielder Howie Kendrick this offseason. The biggest remaining issue/question on his plate is whether to add a veteran hitter in a corner outfield spot or keep the pathway open for young players such as Roman Quinn and eventually Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams. 

“Successfully balancing the present and the future is the single greatest challenge that a baseball operations department faces,” Klentak said. “We’ve talked about it all offseason. The decisions that we are making right now about giving playing time to a young player that has cut his teeth in Triple A and needs that opportunity to take the next step as opposed to a shorter-term solution from the outside — that’s one of the main challenges that we’ve run into this offseason.”

While it’s uncertain whether the Phils will add a hitter, they most surely will make other roster tweaks as the winter moves on. They are likely to fill their backup catcher’s spot in-house (see story), but could add a utility infielder and more bullpen depth on minor-league contracts.

“I think there will probably be another move or two before we get to Clearwater,” Klentak said. “Who and when remains to be seen.”