Instant Replay: Indians 6, Phillies 0

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Instant Replay: Indians 6, Phillies 0

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CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer overcame six walks in five innings to win his second major-league game, and the Indians completed a sweep of their two-game series with the Phillies with a 6-0 win at Progressive Field.

The Indians outscored the Phillies 20-2 and out-hit the Phillies 31-8 in the two games. Their starting pitchers had won eight combined major-league games coming into the series.

The Phillies are 5-1 vs. the Mets this year and 7-15 against everybody else.

One night after Roy Halladay got smacked around for eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings, the Phillies’ other former Cy Young Award winner, Cliff Lee, allowed five runs (four earned) and nine hits in six innings.

The Phils had two base runners in five of the first seven innings. From the fourth through seventh, they had two base runners in four straight innings. In the fifth and seventh, they had two on with no outs. But they were still blanked for the fourth time in their last 15 games. They’ve already been shut out more in 27 games this year than all of either 2006 or 2007.

The Phillies were 2 for 17 with runners on base Wednesday night and 3 for 25 in the two-game series. They were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position in the two games.

This is the first time since 1997 the Phillies have been shut out at least four times in their first 28 games.

Stat-o-holic
Bauer is the first pitcher to walk six batters vs. the Phillies without allowing a run since Jorge Sosa on Sept. 20, 2005 in a 4-1 Braves’ win. The last pitcher to walk six in five or fewer innings against the Phillies without allowing a run was Rex Barney of the Brooklyn Dodgers on May 2, 1948, in a 9-6 Dodgers’ win at Shibe Park.

Red hot
Has anybody ever been hotter than Ryan Raburn? The Indians’ rightfielder had four hits for the second time in three days. He was 7 for 9 in the series, and he’s 11 for 13 in his last three games, raising his average from .214 to .364.

Raburn is the first Indian with three or more hits in three straight games since Victor Martinez did it from Aug. 24 through Aug. 26, 2005.

Did you know?
When Jimmy Rollins was thrown out by Yan Gomes trying to steal second in the first inning, it was only the 14th time in the last four years he was thrown out. He’s now 80 for 95 since the start of 2010. Rollins’ career 82.9 percent success rate is seventh best in major-league history (minimum 200 attempts).

At the plate
The top five in the Phillies’ order were a combined 0 for 16. The Phils got a leadoff walk in four of the first five innings but couldn’t score.

Carlos Ruiz struck out three times for only the third time in 736 career games. He’s 1 for 12 since returning from his suspension. Ryan Howard went 0 for 4, ending his hitting streak at 11 games.

Domonic Brown had two of the Phils’ three hits, and Ben Revere had the other.

Starting pitching report
Lee has now allowed 12 earned runs and 26 hits in his last three starts (6.00 ERA). In his first three starts, he allowed five earned and 15 hits in 23 2/3 innings (1.90).

Bauer needed 93 pitches to get through five innings. He walked six, including four leading off an inning, and struck out five and allowed just one hit, Brown’s fourth-inning single.

Bullpen update
Jeremy Horst pitched the seventh, allowing four hits but just one run. Phillippe Aumont allowed two base runners in the eighth but didn’t give up a run.

For the Indians, Bryan Shaw, Rich Hill, Joe Smith and Cody Allen combined on four innings of two-hit relief.

In the field
Laynce Nix made a tremendous play in right field to rob Drew Stubbs of a fourth-inning homer. Nix leaped high with his back to the wall and snagged the ball before it sailed over the fence.

Raburn made a terrific leaping catch in right field in the top of the fourth to rob Howard of what would have likely been a double off the very top of the wall. Raburn then laughed as he stood and watched the replay on the huge screen in center field.

What’s next
The Phillies return to Citizens Bank Park for three games against the Marlins.

Jonathan Pettibone (1-0, 4.35) faces Ricky Nolasco (2-2, 3.82) Friday and it’s Cole Hamels (1-3, 4.78) vs. Jose Fernandez (0-2, 4.50) Saturday. On Sunday, Roy Halladay (2-2, 5.08) pitches against Kevin Slowey (0-2, 2.43).

Phillies option Jorge Alfaro back to Double A Reading

Phillies option Jorge Alfaro back to Double A Reading

As expected, the Phillies on Saturday optioned prized catching prospect Jorge Alfaro back to Double A Reading after a one game stint with the big club.

Alfaro was called up for Friday's series opener in New York against the Mets because newly acquired veteran backstop A.J. Ellis had yet to arrive with the team. Ellis was acquired Thursday from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the trade that sent Carlos Ruiz to L.A.

The 23-year-old Alfaro is expected to return to the Phillies once Reading's season is over and MLB rosters expand in September. The Fightin Phils, at 83-48, are the Eastern League's top team and very much could make it to the championship series.

Alfaro, acquired in the Cole Hamels trade last summer, has a .279 average with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs in 90 games with Reading this season. He did not get play Friday night against the Mets.

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Hellickson, Phils have chance to play spoilers

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Hellickson, Phils have chance to play spoilers

Phillies (59-69) at Mets (65-63)
7:10 p.m. on CSN

Both the Mets and Phillies go into the second game of the series with their best (healthy) starter on the mound. Noah Syndergaard, known by many as "Thor," takes the hill while trying to keep the Mets' playoff hopes alive, while Jeremy Hellickson makes the 26th start of his rebound season. 

Here are five things to know before Saturday night's matchup.

1. Playing spoilers
If the Mets want to make the playoffs in 2016 and reprise 2015's run to the World Series, they're gonna have to go through the Phillies. 

Not in the playoffs of course. But in the regular season.

After losing Friday night, the Phillies are six games back of the Mets and 10 games back of a playoff spot. They're not going to the postseason, barring a miracle.

But the Mets still have every intent to compete for a wild-card spot despite injuries all over the place (see point No. 2). They have the second-easiest schedule the rest of the way (Nationals have the easiest) and that is in large part thanks to games remaining against the Braves … and the Phillies.

Including Saturday night's game, the Mets and Phillies have nine games left against each other this season. That's more than enough to affect the Mets' postseason chances. The Mets are just 6-4 against the Phillies so far this year and will need to be much better in the final nine games to make a legitimate run.

But the Phillies can also spoil other teams' postseason chances. They have six games left against the Marlins and four games vs. the Pirates. This doesn't even mention the seven games with the Nationals, who are fighting for homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs while holding a comfy lead in the NL East. 

2. Laying down the hammer
Matt Harvey is out for the year. Steven Matz is having shoulder issues and is on the disabled list. Jonathon Niese, newly reaquired, was injured four batters into his Tuesday start. Zack Wheeler seems far away from returning from Tommy John surgery. And to top all of it, Jacob deGrom's next start will be skipped to work on mechanical issues.

So that leaves Friday's starter, Bartolo Colon, and Syndergaard as the Mets' only experienced starters still on turn in the rotation at the moment. Certainly not how the Mets drew it up.

While this shows the perils of building around pitching, there is still the one shining ray of hope: Syndergaard. The righty flamethrower had his bumps in the road, his non-ace like starts, but for the most part, he's been just as advertised. 

Here's a telling stat: Syndergaard has made 24 starts and only in three has he given up more than three runs. As electric as he was as a 22-year-old rookie last year (3.24 ERA with 166 strikeouts in 24 starts), he's been even more so this year. He's given up more hits in almost the same number of innings, but he's limited home runs and struck out more batters. 

Overall, he has an 11-7 record and a 2.61 ERA. His 5.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio is one of the best marks in baseball and so is his 0.5 home runs per nine innings this year. With a hit-or-miss offense and a struggling middle relief corps, Syndergaard continues to carry the Mets to some modicum of playoff contention.

3. Hellickson re-established
It's been said and written plenty of times, but Hellickson was a clear reclamation project when the Phillies acquired him in the offseason. 

He hadn't pitched to an ERA below 4.52 since 2012, his second full season in baseball. His velocity had fallen after a shoulder injury and the righty based mostly on command was beginning to give up way too many hits. The Tampa Bay Rays, the team that drafted him, dealt him and after one year, the Diamondbacks gave up on him, too.

But in five months with the Phillies, Hellickson has re-established himself as the pitcher he was before. His hits per nine innings have improved back to their 2012 numbers and he has lowered his walk rate while keeping his strikeouts at a career high rate. 

So for the first time in four years, Hellickson is an above-average MLB pitcher. Besides pushing back his last start, he's been consistently pitching every fifth game, one of the few constants for the Phillies' rotation. He's thrown 150 innings, his most since 2013 and he has a month left.

And he's now won four straight decisions. The Phils have won his last six starts and he's given up three or fewer runs in each one. While he is putting himself in line for a big payday in the offseason, the Phillies are certainly happy with the production they've gotten from the 29-year-old righty.

4. Battle of the bullpens
Based on ERA, the Phillies and Mets have had two of the five worst bullpens in baseball since the All-Star break. Yet it's been for very different reasons.

For the Phillies, it's simple: The rotation has been in disarray. Even the guys who've been healthy have simply failed to get far into games. Hellickson is the only starter to complete at least seven innings since the break and even he hasn't done it more than the one time. 

If the starters weren't giving length but were giving the bullpen leads on a consistent basis, Pete Mackanin could go to his top relievers like Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez, who have been pretty steady despite a recent hiccup by Gomez against the Cardinals. But they haven't been given many leads and that has meant mop-up relievers. 

So with the long reliever getting more of the innings, it's easy to see why the Phils' pen has the fifth-worst ERA (4.52) of any MLB bullpen since the break. 

But what's been the Mets' problem to cause a 4.74 ERA, second worst in the second half? It's a little more complicated. First, they've had some of the same issues as the Phillies. Starters either getting hurt (Niese) or struggling and having to exit early leads to same results as the Phillies. 

Yet it's also the back-end relievers struggling. Although he's had a good August, Jeurys Familia has blown three saves since the break after none before the break. Jerry Blevins has been slightly worse since the break. And Hansel Robles, a key cog in middle relief, has a 6.41 ERA in the second half. 

The mop-up relievers have done a lot of the damage, but the Mets' back end isn't as steady as it needs to be. 

5. This and that
• Syndergaard beat the Phillies in April at Citziens Bank Park. He held the Phils to just one run over seven innings and struck out eight batters. He gave up just five hits and two walks.

• Hellickson has made three starts against the Mets this year and is 1-1. He got a win at Citi Field on April 10 by allowing just two runs in 5⅔ innings. He got a no-decision after allowing 10 hits and four runs in 4⅓ 10 days later. Hellickson was beat up in his first start after the break, losing to the Mets in a six-inning start on July 15. He gave up four runs on seven hits and two home runs in that game.

• Ryan Howard is 2 for 7 against Syndergaard with a home run and two walks in nine plate appearances. Odubel Herrera is 1 for 9 with an RBI single. 

• Curtis Granderson has faced Hellickson more than any other Mets batter thanks to their time with the Yankees and Rays, respectively. In 29 plate appearances, he is 5 for 25 with a home run, two walks, seven strikeouts and two hit-by-pitches.

• Yoenis Cespedes is 5 for 12 against Hellickson with two home runs and a walk. 

Best of MLB: Bryant homers twice, Cubs spoil Ruiz's Dodgers debut

Best of MLB: Bryant homers twice, Cubs spoil Ruiz's Dodgers debut

LOS ANGELES -- Kris Bryant hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 10th inning to go with an earlier solo shot, lifting the Chicago Cubs over the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 on Friday night in the series opener between NL division leaders.

Bryant's 35th homer capped a comeback from an earlier two-run deficit and extended the Cubs' winning streak to four games. Chicago fans chanted "MVP! MVP!" as Bryant scored behind Dexter Fowler, who singled leading off.

Chicago improved to 19-4 in August while earning its major league-leading 82nd victory.

Travis Wood (4-0) got the victory with one inning of relief. Aroldis Chapman struck out two in the 10th to earn his 10th save.

Adam Liberatore (2-1) took the loss, allowing two runs and four hits in one inning (see full recap).

Mariners overcome Sale's 14 K's to beat White Sox
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale struck out 14 but got outpitched by Felix Hernandez and the Seattle bullpen, and the Mariners ended a three-game skid Friday night by beating the Chicago White Sox 3-1.

Hernandez (9-4) improved to 5-0 in eight starts since returning from the disabled list, throwing 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball.

Sale (15-7) gave up five hits and walked none in his fifth complete game of the season. He retired the final 16 batters, striking out 10 of them.

Sale struck out six straight in the sixth and seventh innings, one shy of Joe Cowley's team record.

Franklin Gutierrez hit a solo home run and Adam Lind added an RBI double off Sale.

Todd Frazier's 32nd home run in the seventh was one of eight hits off Hernandez until he left with the bases loaded (see full recap).

Gonzalez earns 100th win as Nationals top Rockies
WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy hit solo homers and drove in two runs each, and Gio Gonzalez earned his 100th career victory as the Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 8-5 on Friday night.

Gonzalez (9-9) threw six innings and allowed two runs and four hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

Mark Melancon retired Christhian Adames for the final out. Melancon entered the game shortly after Nick Hundley hit a three-run homer off Shawn Kelley to pull the Rockies within three.

While Gonzalez hit the century mark, Rockies rookie Jeff Hoffman (0-2), remains in search of his first major league win (see full recap).