Phillies 11, Tigers 6: Sizzling Brock Stassi belts grand slam; Aaron Nola rusty but healthy

Phillies 11, Tigers 6: Sizzling Brock Stassi belts grand slam; Aaron Nola rusty but healthy

BOX SCORE

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Brock Stassi's candidacy to win a spot on the Phillies' opening day roster seems to get stronger by the day.

The 27-year-old career minor-leaguer (see story) hit his third homer of the spring -- a grand slam -- to lead the Phillies' 11-6 win over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.

Stassi went 2 for 4 on the day and also walked and scored three runs. He is hitting .563 (9 for 16) with 11 RBIs and has played sound defense at first base and in left field. He is attempting to make the club as a backup at both positions.

"He's having a great spring," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's making a bid for making this team. He's really looked good and is making a real good impression. He's doing everything right."

Stassi, a lefty hitter, drew a walk against Tigers ace Justin Verlander in the second inning and scored on a base hit by Pedro Florimon.

The grand slam came in the sixth inning against lefty Blaine Hardy. Stassi turned on a 2-1 fastball and lined it over the right-field wall with a short, quick stroke.

"I knew he had to come in with something," Stassi said. "He threw me a couple of off-speed pitches early and I knew he didn't want to go 3-1 with the bases loaded. I was sitting fastball and got it."

Some folks don't put much stock in spring training stats. These are, after all, exhibition games.

But for Stassi, they count. Big time.

"Guys always talk about saving it for the season, but for me there are no guarantees," Stassi said. "It's life or death out there for me right now and I'm just trying to stay positive and have quality at-bats and keep things rolling.

"Today is over. Come back tomorrow and get back to work."

Stassi is scheduled to start in left field against the Braves on Wednesday as Mackanin and the coaching staff evaluate him at the position.

Nola rusty
Aaron Nola wasn't particularly sharp in his second spring outing, but the right-hander is not necessarily being graded on results.

What matters most is his health and after four spring innings, well …

"I really feel good," he said.

Nola missed the final two months of 2016 with an elbow strain, but he has no health-related limits this spring. He was scheduled to bump up to three innings on Tuesday, but a high pitch count in the first inning scuttled that. He ended up going two innings and giving up five hits, a walk and two runs. He struck out two. He threw 40 pitches.

"The plan was to go three, but I was spotty today and the pitch count got up pretty fast," Nola said.

"My command was off. I was missing over the plate on some pitches, but other than that I felt good. My arm felt good. My body felt good."

Mackanin was not alarmed by Nola's outing. He, too, is looking for good health.

"He looked a little rusty," Mackanin said. "He wasn't as bad as you think he was. He was just missing. (Catcher Ryan) Hanigan told me a lot of those pitches were pretty good pitches, so I was happy with that."

Nola pitched two scoreless innings against Toronto in his spring debut last week (see story).

The game
The Phillies' bats exploded for 13 hits. Bryan Holaday also homered for the Phils.

Colton Murray, Jeanmar Gomez, Ben Lively and Cesar Ramos all pitched scoreless ball. Michael Mariot had to close it out after the Tigers rallied for four runs against Pedro Beato in the ninth.

Eflin, Thompson ramp up
Pitchers Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson both threw to hitters for the first time this spring on Tuesday and they could be ready for some game action next week.

The team has taken things slowly with both pitchers. Eflin had double knee surgery in the fall and Thompson reported to camp with a sore right wrist. Both are healthy now.

"I'm head over heels better than I've ever felt in my life," said Eflin, who had battled knee tendinitis for years. "I can't remember the last time that I felt like this. It's just a blessing. There's no pain at all."

Both pitchers project to be in the Triple A rotation, though it's unclear whether they will be ready to open the season in a month. It's quite possible that the Phillies will give Eflin a little extra time as he continues to build strength in his legs.

Up next
The Phillies play the Braves at Disney on Thursday afternoon. Jeremy Hellickson will start for the Phils. Here is the Phillies' posted lineup for the game:

Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Freddy Galvis, SS
Daniel Nava, DH
Maikel Franco, 3B
Tommy Joseph, 1B
Cameron Rupp, C
Brock Stassi, LF
Dylan Cozens, RF
Roman Quinn, CF

Best of MLB: Rendon explodes for 3 homers, 10 RBIs in Nats' 23-5 win vs. Mets

Best of MLB: Rendon explodes for 3 homers, 10 RBIs in Nats' 23-5 win vs. Mets

WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon had 10 RBIs, three home runs and six hits as the Washington Nationals took advantage of Noah Syndergaard's injury and mauled the New York Mets 23-5 on Sunday to set a franchise scoring record.

Rendon went a career-best 6 for 6 and scored five times while setting a club mark for RBIs. He became the 13th player in major league history to drive in 10 or more in a game, and first since Garret Anderson did it for the Angels in 2007.

Matt Wieters added two homers, a single and two walks as the Nationals salvaged the finale of a three-game series. Adam Lind and Bryce Harper also homered, and Harper scored four runs.

Washington finished with a season-high 23 hits and scored the most runs in the history of the Expos/Nationals franchise. The Nationals' seven homers were their most since the team moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005 (see full recap).

Keuchel improves to 5-0 with dominant start vs. Astros
HOUSTON -- Dallas Keuchel threw 7 2/3 solid innings, Marwin Gonzalez hit a three-run home run and the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Sunday.

Keuchel (5-0) struck out nine, while allowing one run on three hits and two walks. The left-hander has thrown at least seven innings in every outing this season. He became the second pitcher in Astros history to get five wins in April, joining Rogers Clemens, who went 5-0 in 2004.

After Trevor Plouffe doubled with one out in the first, Keuchel retired ten straight and 13 of the next 14 batters he faced.

Ken Giles earned his sixth save after getting Yonder Alonso to fly out with the bases loaded.

Jesse Hahn (1-2) gave up four runs on eight hits with six strikeouts in six innings.

Gonzalez hit his home run off the right field foul pole in eighth (see full recap).

Miguel Sano's 5 RBIs help hand Royals 9th-straight loss
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Miguel Sano homered and drove in five runs, helping the Minnesota Twins beat slumping Kansas City 7-5 on Sunday for the Royals' ninth straight loss.

Sano posted his fourth consecutive multihit game. He has 11 hits in his last 16 at-bats. He drove in nine runs in the two-game, rain-abbreviated series.

Sano connected in the third after Jason Hammel (0-3) walked Byron Buxton and Max Kepler. He added run-producing singles in the fourth and sixth innings.

It's the longest slide for Kansas City since a 12-game skid in April 2012 (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3

Instant Replay: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3

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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers hit two more home runs in beating the Phillies, 5-3, on Sunday afternoon.

The Dodgers swept the three-game series from the Phils, hitting seven homers in the final two games, including five on Saturday night. Three of those homers Saturday night came in the ninth inning, as the Dodgers rallied back from a three-run deficit to hang an excruciating loss on the Phils.
 
Sunday's loss was not as painful. The Phils got a leadoff triple from Cesar Hernandez and an RBI single from Freddy Galvis in the first inning then did not score again until the ninth.
 
The Dodgers out-hit the Phillies, 13-4, over the first eight innings.
 
The Phillies are 11-12 heading into Chicago to play the defending World Series champion Cubs.
 
Starting pitching report
Nick Pivetta allowed 10 baserunners in his big-league debut but managed to limit the damage to just two runs thanks to a couple of double plays, a couple of big strikeouts and a fortuitous bounce that turned a double into a ground-rule double, which meant a runner had to hold at third.
 
Four of the nine hits that Piverta allowed were for extra bases, including a homer by Chris Taylor that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the second. He walked one and struck out five.
 
Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu held the Phillies to three hits and a run over 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out nine. He is 1-4.
 
Bullpen report
Jeanmar Gomez entered the game with the Phils trailing just 2-1 in the sixth. He allowed a leadoff single, a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Chase Utley and a three-run homer to Andrew Toles as the Dodgers put the game away.
 
With Hector Neris unavailable after throwing 19 pitches in Saturday night's disaster, Mackanin was likely holding back right-handers Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek for the late innings in case the Phils got a lead.
 
Gomez has a 9.64 ERA.
 
Kenley Jansen got the final out and the save for the Dodgers after Grant Dayton gave up a two-run, two-out homer in the ninth. Jansen struck out Hernandez on three pitches.

At the plate
Maikel Franco struck out three times, snapping a career-best streak of 32 straight plate appearances without a strikeout.

Galvis has hit in 12 straight games.

Odubel Herrera smacked a two-run homer in the ninth to make it a two-run game.
 
Justin Turner had seven hits in the series, and he didn't even start the second game. (He had a game-tying, pinch-hit homer in that one.) He had three hits Sunday, including an RBI single in the first inning.
 
Toles had two homers in the series.
 
On the bases
Cameron Rupp, who entered the day hitting .180, had a pair of doubles and a single but short-circuited a potential rally when he was picked off second by rival catcher Yasmani Grandal on a no-outs bunt play with the Phils down a run in the fifth.
 
In the field
Not only did Turner have a big series at the plate, he robbed Tommy Joseph of a hit in the seventh inning with a fabulous pick of a hot smash to third. Joseph needed the hit as he is slumping badly. He went hitless with two strikeouts and is hitting .179.
 
Up next
The Phillies move on to Chicago for four games against the defending World Series champion Cubs. Here are the pitching matchups:
 
Monday night -- RHP Vince Velasquez (1-2, 6.33) vs. LHP Brett Anderson (2-0, 3.54)
 
Tuesday night -- RHP Jeremy Hellickson (4-0, 1.80) vs. LHP Jon Lester (0-1, 3.68)
 
Wednesday night -- RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-2, 3.56) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (3-1, 4.66)
 
Thursday afternoon -- RHP Zach Eflin (0-0, 1.89) vs. RHP John Lackey (2-3, 5.10)