MLB Wrap: Indians cruise past Red Sox

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MLB Wrap: Indians cruise past Red Sox

The Phillies are all ready to resume their rivalry with the reigning NL East champion Washington Nationals (see story).

Chase Utley won't be taking part in the series after being placed on the 15-day disabled list (see story).

Now let's look at Thursday's MLB action:

Indians beat BoSox in Francona's return
BOSTON -- Drew Stubbs and Mark Reynolds drove in three runs each and Cleveland had 16 hits in the Indians' 12-3 win over the Boston Red Sox in manager Terry Francona's return to Fenway Park on Thursday night.

Francona, let go by Boston after the 2011 season, got a standing ovation after the first inning during a video tribute on the center-field scoreboard. But he didn't have to leave the visiting dugout during the game because all of Cleveland's pitching changes came at the start of an inning.

In eight years as manager, Francona led the Red Sox to two World Series championships. In his first year as Cleveland's manager, he has the Indians in first place in the AL Central after they went 68-94 last season (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Homers help Angels beat Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit solo home runs, and Mark Trumbo hit a two-run shot to help the Los Angeles Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 Thursday night.

Joe Blanton got his first victory of the season after going 0-7 in his first nine starts. He held the Royals to seven hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings. Trumbo put the Angels up 5-2 in the eighth with his team-leading 11th homer.

Ervin Santana (3-4), who spent 12 seasons in the Angels' organization before being traded during the offseason to the Royals, struck out eight without a walk, but allowed five runs and eight hits -- four of which were homers. Chris Iannetta hit one in the fifth.

The Royals scored on ground outs by Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Pirates top Cubs for fourth straight win
PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen had three hits and two RBIs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Chicago Cubs 4-2 on a rainy Thursday for their fourth straight win.

Leadoff hitter Starling Marte singled and scored in each of the first two innings as Pittsburgh built an early 4-0 lead. The Pirates moved a season-best 11 games over .500 with its 11th victory in 13 games.

Edwin Jackson (1-7) gave up two runs in the first inning and two more in the second. He lasted only three innings and has a 6.11 ERA through 10 starts.

Jackson is in his first season with the Cubs after signing a four-year, $52-million contract over the winter as a free agent (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Encarnacion, Blue Jays pound Orioles
TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion hit his fifth career grand slam, J.P. Arencibia homered and drove in four runs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Baltimore 12-6 on Thursday night, spoiling the debut of Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman.

Brandon Morrow (2-3) allowed six runs and a season-high 10 hits in seven-plus innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Brett Cecil and Brad Lincoln each worked one inning of scoreless relief as Toronto won for the third time in four games.

Baltimore's Chris Davis hit his major league leading 15th home run, a leadoff shot in the fourth. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones clubbed back-to-back homers off Morrow in the eighth but it wasn't enough for the Orioles, who lost for the seventh time in nine games (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.

The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.

Benoit began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.

The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA in 712 games.

Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.

Benoit has mostly pitched in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could choose to trade Gomez or Neris.

Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.

Phillies tender contracts to 3 players as Cody Asche becomes free agent

Phillies tender contracts to 3 players as Cody Asche becomes free agent

The Phillies tendered contracts to three arbitration-eligible players on Friday night and set another free.
 
Reliever Jeanmar Gomez and infielders Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis were tendered contracts for the 2017 season while outfielder Cody Asche was let go after four seasons with the club. 
 
The Phillies signaled their intention to let Asche go when they designated him for assignment, a move that removed him from the 40-man roster, on Friday afternoon. The club had the option of trading Asche — and likely had discussions with other clubs — but ultimately decided to non-tender him before the 8 p.m. deadline. The move made Asche a free agent.
 
The Phils had removed Asche from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for David Rollins, a left-handed reliever who was claimed off waivers from Texas on Friday (see story)
 
Galvis and Hernandez, the team’s regular shortstop and second baseman, respectively, were certain to receive contracts for 2017. Gomez was less certain. He saved 37 games for the Phils in 2016, but struggled badly late in the season.
 
Phillies officials will try to negotiate 2017 salaries with all three players. If an agreement cannot be reached with a player, an arbitration hearing will be held later in the winter to determine that player’s salary for the coming season.
 
Gomez made $1.4 million in 2016, Galvis $2 million and Hernandez $525,000. According to mlbtraderumors.com, Gomez projects to make $4.6 million in arbitration, Galvis $4.4 million and Hernandez $2.5 million. 

The Phillies' roster is full at 40.