Papelbon says he's ready to go and has no regrets

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Papelbon says he's ready to go and has no regrets

If the Phillies are in a save situation Tuesday night, Jonathan Papelbon says he will be available for duty.

He called in sore Sunday and his replacement, Antonio Bastardo, blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning en route to a demoralizing 5-4 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Manager Ryne Sandberg lost six pounds between that loss and reporting to work Tuesday. No, it wasn’t Sunday’s ugliness that made Sandberg ill. It was a bad post-game burger in New York.

Papelbon’s off day remains quite controversial. Eyebrows have been raised in the Phillies’ clubhouse as to why the closer could not go. Papelbon did not pitch Wednesday or Thursday in Toronto (see story). He warmed up twice and pitched an inning in Friday’s win, and warmed up once and pitched an inning in Saturday’s win. He threw a total of 21 pitches in those two games, yet was too sore to answer the bell Sunday.

After Sunday's game, Papelbon cited that hardly excessive workload as the reason for his soreness.

On Tuesday, Papelbon added that the artificial turf in Toronto might have contributed. He did not pitch in Toronto, but stretched and went through some pre-game workouts.

Papelbon was asked if he regretted not pitching Sunday.

“No,” Papelbon said Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve pitched through soreness before. This was different. It was basically a soreness where I wasn’t comfortable throwing. I felt like I could create more injury. Instead of missing 30 or 40 or 50 games, I decided it would be best for my team and my career to maybe sit one out.”

Papelbon, who complained of neck and back soreness, said he felt better when he woke up Tuesday.

On Sunday, the pitcher mentioned the possibility that he became sore because he warmed up a few times over the weekend.

Sandberg said Papelbon’s warmup time was not unusual for a pair of close games.

“It was not excessive,” Sandberg said.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. did not fault Papelbon for opting out of work Sunday. He said he was OK with Papelbon’s explanation.

“I don’t think there is anything specific,” Amaro said. “His back and his neck was bothering him. He’s available tonight. Just like anybody else, he has some mileage, and we have to keep an eye on these guys. If by not having him pitch one game so he can pitch 30 more, then that’s what we’ll do.”

It’s important for a team to have a closer who can pitch three days in a row. What if this were October? Could Papelbon have pitched?

“Yeah,” Papelbon said. “I would have probably gotten maybe a shot of Toradol and said, ‘Screw it.’ But it’s not a postseason game so I didn’t.”

Sandberg said he did not believe Papelbon’s workload on Friday and Saturday -- three warmups and 21 pitches -- was excessive, and he made it clear that he needs his closer to be ready for games.

“We need a closer that can go three games in a row and close three games, no question about that,” he said. “He was up and down a couple times on Friday and that's just normal baseball stuff. Then he had seven pitches and 14 pitches. So I need him to go out that third day and be our closer in a series like that, in any scenario like that.”

Sandberg spoke to Papelbon on Tuesday just to make sure the closer had no arm problems. Papelbon assured Sandberg he was fine, that he just had soreness in his back and neck and was ready to go.

The manager was asked whether he was confident that he’d have Papelbon three days in a row when the situation calls for it.

“I sure hope so,” he said. “That's his job.”

Best of MLB: Twins pound out 21 hits, storm back to beat Orioles

Best of MLB: Twins pound out 21 hits, storm back to beat Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Max Kepler homered and drove in four runs, Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco each had a career-high four hits and the Minnesota Twins roared back to beat the Baltimore Orioles 14-7 Monday night.

Minnesota trailed 5-0 in the second inning and 6-2 entering the fifth before cranking up the offense against Ubaldo Jimenez and an ineffective Baltimore bullpen.

A two-run double by Kepler helped the Twins knot the score in the fifth, Minnesota sent 11 batters to the plate in a six-run sixth and Sano added a two-run homer in the ninth.

Joe Mauer had three hits, two RBIs and scored twice for the Twins, who reached season highs in runs and hits (21).

Adam Jones hit a three-run drive in the second inning off Kyle Gibson (1-4) for Baltimore (see full recap).

Peacock, Astros 1-hit Tigers
HOUSTON -- Brad Peacock and three relievers combined for a one-hitter and Jose Altuve provided the offense with an RBI double to lead the Houston Astros to 1-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.

Peacock was solid moving out of the bullpen to make a spot start for injured ace Dallas Keuchel. In his first start since September, Peacock allowed the lone hit and struck out eight in 4 1/3 innings. He was lifted after walking Tyler Collins with one out in the fifth inning.

Chris Devenski (3-2) took over and pitched 2 2/3 innings for the win before Will Harris pitched a scoreless eighth. Ken Giles struck out two in the ninth for his 12th save to allow the Astros to bounce back after being swept by the Indians over the weekend.

Detroit's only hit was a single by Mikie Mahtook with one out in the third on a night the Tigers tied a season high by striking out 14 times. The team's only baserunner after Collins was Victor Martinez, who was plunked with one out in the seventh. But Houston still faced the minimum in that inning when J.D. Martinez grounded into a double play to end the seventh.

The Astros struck early against Michael Fulmer (5-2) when George Springer drew a leadoff walk before scoring on the double by Altuve to make it 1-0 with one out in the first (see full recap).

Homers help Yankees top Royals
NEW YORK -- Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner and Chris Carter homered, and the New York Yankees once again downed Jason Vargas by beating the Kansas City Royals 4-2 Monday night.

A reversed umpire's call in the seventh inning kept the Yankees ahead and enabled Michael Pineda (5-2) to top Vargas for the second time in a week. The Royals, with the worst record in the AL, have lost five of seven.

Vargas (5-3) began the day with a 2.03 ERA, tied for second-best in the majors. But the lefty fell to 0-7 lifetime against the Yankees when he was tagged by Gardner and Gregorius, the only left-handed hitters in the New York lineup (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 1

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

The Phillies' offense was quiet again in an 8-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

The Phillies had just three hits. They mustered just three in losing, 1-0, at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The loss was the Phillies' 18th in the last 22 games. They have been outscored 126-89 over that span.

The Phils are 15-27.

Colorado's 29-17 record is the best in the National League.

Starting pitching report
Jerad Eickhoff gave up nine hits and four runs over six innings. Four of the hits that Eickhoff allowed came in the third inning when the Rockies scored three times. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.

Eickhoff is 0-5 with a 4.70 ERA in nine starts.

Colorado rookie Jeff Hoffman, called up from Triple A earlier in the day, was impressive in the eighth start of his big-league career. Make that very impressive. He scattered three hits and a run over seven walk-free innings and struck out seven.

Hoffman, a 24-year-old product of East Carolina University, was a first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, going ninth overall, two picks behind Aaron Nola. He was dealt to the Rockies in the trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Jays.

Bullpen report
Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless seventh inning and struck out two.

Scott Oberg, Mike Dunn and Jake McGee closed out the Phillies.

At the plate
The Phils were out-hit, 13-3.

Aaron Altherr had a pair of doubles against Hoffman. He scored the Phillies' lone run on a hit by Tommy Joseph in the fourth.

Charlie Blackmon flared a two-run double to left to score the Rockies' first two runs in the third. DJ LeMahieu followed with an RBI single. Carlos Gonzalez doubled, moved to second on a hit by Mark Reynolds and scored the Rockies' fourth run on a line-drive sacrifice fly by Gerardo Parra in sixth.

The Rockies blew the game open with four runs in the top of the ninth. Nolan Arenado highlighted things with a two-run homer off Luis Garcia.

In the field
First baseman Joseph made a costly error in the ninth.

Lineup stuff
Michael Saunders, who opened the season hitting fifth, was dropped to eighth in the batting order. "He's not hitting," manager Pete Mackanin said in explaining the move. Saunders entered the game on an 0-for-11 skid, hitting just .232. He went 0 for 3 to extend his hitless streak to 14 at-bats.

Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Zach Eflin (0-1, 4.25) opposes Colorado right-hander German Marquez (2-2, 4.34).