Pettibone, Phillies can't climb out of early hole in loss

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Pettibone, Phillies can't climb out of early hole in loss

BOX SCORE

It was just a matter of time until Phillies’ rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone had one of those nights.

In Thursday night’s 9-2 loss to the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park, it was just one of those innings that ruined his night (see Instant Replay).

In vying to become the first Phillies’ starting pitcher to begin his career with a 4-0 record since Randy Wolf did it in 1999, Pettibone was battered around for four runs in the first inning against the crafty Red Sox lineup.

Though he settled in and held the Red Sox scoreless after the first inning, it was a two-run, two-out double by Jarrod Saltalamacchia that sealed Pettibone’s fate. And strangely enough, Saltalamacchia hit the first pitch from Pettibone. If the Phillies were paying attention, they would have seen how the Red Sox made Pettibone and the club’s pitchers work during most at-bats.

That veteran approach knocked the rookie out of the game after throwing 98 pitches and drawing four walks in five innings.

“I didn’t finish the batters,” Pettibone said. “They were able to sneak some hits through and then (Saltalamacchia’s) double was up in the zone. He put a good swing on it and that was it.”

If there was something manager Charlie Manuel could steal from the Red Sox and inject into his team’s offense, it would be their patient approach at the plate. The Sox sent 46 hitters to the plate on Thursday night and 24 of them had at-bats that lasted four pitches or longer. In comparison, the Phillies had just 15 plate appearances that lasted four pitches or longer out of 34 hitters.

“They were very patient with Jonathan and they definitely made him pitch,” Manuel said. “They made him pitch and if you noticed, we swung at some bad balls, especially when we were ahead in the count. We didn’t use their wildness to our advantage tonight.”

It’s one thing to look at a lot of pitches or wear out pitchers, and it’s another to make things happen. In pounding out 14 hits and drawing five walks, the Red Sox had 10 different players get at least one hit. They had five hits with runners in scoring position, got five extra-base hits and had five stolen bases.

Leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury had all five of those stolen bases, setting a Red Sox record while becoming the first player since records were kept in 1916 to swipe five bags against the Phillies.

Ellsbury also reached base five times in three different ways. He had three hits, walked and got hit by a pitch.

If the Phillies wanted to stop Ellsbury, they didn’t do a very good job of it.

But as Manuel said after the game, wins are a struggle. Even when Pettibone, Cliff Lee or Kyle Kendrick turns in a quality start, the game is never a laugher for the Phillies. Though Pettibone struggled against the Red Sox, the Phillies still had a chance.

The problem is the offense just isn’t able to get much going unless the Phillies hit a home run.

“It’s a battle for us. To win a game is a battle,” Manuel said. “When we have [a pitcher] throw a really good game, it’s still a battle for us to win sometimes. We don’t blow anybody out. We don’t knock the cover off the ball.”

The Phillies got a pair of runs in the first on Delmon Young’s homer. After that, they put just two runners in scoring position. Meanwhile, the Phillies scored just 12 runs in the four games against the Red Sox and all but one of them came on homers.

Against spot-starter Franklin Morales, the Phillies went down in order in the second, third and fifth innings. During the fourth inning the Phillies loaded the bases with two walks and a single and looked poised to do some damage with just one out. However, catcher Erik Kratz bounced into an inning-ending double play.

From there, the Phillies had just three base runners the rest of the night.

“We didn’t muster enough offense,” Manuel said. “It’s kind of the same thing every day.”

The Phillies wasted a chance to move back to .500 for the first time since April 14. They have had three chances to get to .500 in the past seven games and have lost each time.

Nevertheless, Manuel says the Phillies’ goal isn’t simply to get back to .500.

“We want to get beyond .500. There’s no doubt about that,” the manager said. “We’re not looking at .500 as some great championship move.”

The Phillies look to bounce back on Friday night when they open a three-game series against the last-place Milwaukee Brewers. The pitching matchups for the weekend are:

Friday: Cole Hamels (1-8, 4.43) vs. Yovani Gallardo (3-5, 4.79)
Saturday: Tyler Cloyd (1-1, 5.74) vs. Mike Fiers (1-3, 6.62)
Sunday: Cliff Lee (6-2, 2.34) vs. Wily Peralta (3-6, 6.35).

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.”