Phillies 4, Yankees 3: A few observations

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Phillies 4, Yankees 3: A few observations

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Charlie Manuel was taking no chances. He walked around behind second base after the grounds crew dumped the tarp Tuesday afternoon. The squishing sound beneath his feet told him he didn’t want Chase Utley on the field.

Manuel scratched Utley from the lineup moments before the Phillies were about to play the New York Yankees. Kevin Frandsen started in place of Utley and continued to swing a hot bat with a double in the Phils’ 4-3 win.

Manuel’s abrupt decision to sit Utley caused some initial worry. Utley, of course, has battled knee problems the last two seasons and flareups can be unpredictable.

“What’s new?” Manuel said of the concern for Utley. “Chicken Little. The world is coming to an end. I see it all the time.”

Utley continues to feel good. He watched the game from the dugout. He will work out in Clearwater instead of traveling to Fort Myers to play the Twins on Wednesday.

• Kyle Kendrick allowed three hits and a run over two innings in his first start of the spring.

Kendrick comes to camp assured a rotation spot for the first time since 2008. He earned it by going 7-4 with a 3.20 ERA in 12 starts over the final two months after Joe Blanton was traded last season.

“I knew they were going to give me the chance and I had to prove I could be the guy,” Kendrick said. “I plan on continuing to do that this season. I’m hoping to build off last season, help us win some ballgames and get back to the postseason.”

• The Phillies had a big seventh inning Tuesday, and it might have been a glimpse at the future. Domonic Brown hit a mammoth home run to centerfield (see story), Cody Asche doubled and Tommy Joseph belted a two-run home run. The three-run inning rescued the Phils from a 3-1 deficit and propelled them to the win.

Brown, 25, is bidding for a spot in the Phils’ opening-day outfield. Asche, 22, and Joseph, 21, are considered the Phillies’ third baseman and catcher of the future, respectively.

All the hits in that inning came against Single A pitcher Zach Nuding.

• The Phillies travel to Fort Myers to face the Twins on Wednesday afternoon. Former Twin Ben Revere will make the trip to face his former mates. John Lannan makes his first start of the spring for the Phillies.

Phillies prove no match for AL-best Astros in series opener

Phillies prove no match for AL-best Astros in series opener

BOX SCORE

A lot has changed since the Houston Astros last came to Philadelphia in 2014. Back then the Astros were a rebuilding team on their way to a 92-loss season after reaching triple-digit losses the previous three seasons.

Now, the Astros' rebuild is complete and they have the best record (66-33) in the American League and the second best in the majors after the Los Angeles Dodgers (68-31).

The Astros have a powerhouse offense that ranks first in the majors in runs (594), hits (1,105), doubles (222), homers (165), batting average (.293) and OPS (.863).

Those numbers burned the eyes of Phillies manager Pete Mackanin when he got a look at them before Monday's game.

"When I look at their stat sheet and look at all their numbers, I really don't want to look at it," he said. "But once again, good pitching will stop good hitting, so if we can get good outings from some of our pitchers, we have a chance."

The Phillies did not get a good outing from their starting pitcher, nor did they get good work from the bullpen, as they lost Monday's series opener, 13-4 (see Instant Replay).

The Astros pounded out 18 hits and eight of them were for extra bases.

And they did all that damage without star shortstop Carlos Correa (.320/20/67). He is on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his thumb. Also, All-Star George Springer (.311/27/66) left the game in the third inning with a sore quad muscle.

So it could have been worse if the Astros had played with a full deck.

"We’ve been playing pretty well recently and these kinds of games happen," said Mackanin, whose club is 5-5 after the All-Star break. "Unfortunately, this was one of those games.

"Houston is as good a team as we've seen. They have nine guys with double-digit home runs. They are a real aggressive team, one of the best, if not the best, that we’ve seen. They have aggressive hitters. You can't make mistakes against them. Early in the count, they hack at those mistakes. They don’t strike out a lot.

"It was noticeable that they go up there ready to hit every pitch. They're not taking to get a look at the pitcher. If you make a mistake over the plate, they look to hurt you, to do damage."

The Phillies trailed 12-1 in the seventh inning before rookie Nick Williams tripled home three runs. Williams has three triples and 18 RBIs in 72 at-bats with the big club.

Cesar Hernandez had three hits and Odubel Herrera added a pair to raise his July batting average to .364 (24 for 66).

"Other than that, there weren't a lot of bright spots," Mackanin said.

Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez, pitching against his former team, worked into the fourth inning, but had his outing cut short by a one-hour, 52-minute rain delay. Velasquez might not have pitched deep into the game even in good weather conditions. He struggled with location and did not use his secondary pitches effectively. He gave up a pair of home runs (to Brian McCann and Alex Bregman) in the second inning, both on fastballs.

Mackanin was rather blunt when asked how he thought Velasquez pitched.

"He gave up six hits, two home runs, in three innings," Mackanin said. "His velocity was OK, but if you don't locate against a team like this, you're going to get hurt."

Velasquez walked three. One of those walks turned into a run.

"They were hunting fastballs," Velasquez said. "Maybe if I utilized my secondary pitches more I would have slowed their bats down and protected my fastball better. They hammer mistakes.

"I probably could have done a better job if I executed. Correa was out of the lineup. If he was in there he probably would have done some damage, too. This team is hot. They're in first place for a reason. They're very selective. They are in the zone. They're locked in."

Ricardo Pinto picked up Velasquez when the game resumed in the top of the fourth inning. He was tagged for seven hits and six runs in 1 1/3 inning. Three of the runs were unearned. 

Best of MLB: White Sox beat crosstown rival Cubs to snap 9-game skid

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Best of MLB: White Sox beat crosstown rival Cubs to snap 9-game skid

CHICAGO -- Adam Engel and Matt Davidson homered and the White Sox snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the crosstown rival Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday.

The Cubs lost for just the second time in 10 games following the All-Star break to fall a half-game behind idle first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.

Engel lined his third homer of the season off reliever Justin Grimm (1-1) into the wind and several rows into the left-center bleachers to snap a 1-1 tie in the sixth. Davidson led off the eighth with his 19th homer, which sailed over the left-field stands and onto Waveland Avenue.

Miguel Gonzalez (5-9) allowed one run and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings to end a four-game losing streak and win for just the second time in 11 decisions.

Jose Abreu had two hits and doubled in a run for the AL-worst White Sox, who ended their longest slide in four years (see full recap).

Royals hit back-to-back HRs in 12th inning for win
DETROIT -- Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas hit consecutive homers in the 12th inning, and the Kansas City Royals won their sixth straight game, 5-3 over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.

Hours after the Royals helped their pitching staff by acquiring Trevor Cahill and two relievers in a trade with San Diego, Kansas City outlasted the Tigers to stay 1 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central. Jorge Bonifacio also homered for the Royals, who won despite squandering a 3-0 lead in the sixth.

Jakob Junis (3-2), one of seven relievers used by Kansas City, pitched a hitless 11th for the win. Kelvin Herrera finished for his 20th save in 23 chances.

Drew VerHagen (0-1) took the loss, allowing the homers to Perez and Moustakas in his third inning of work (see full recap).

Stanton homers twice as Marlins blank Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Giancarlo Stanton hit more two home runs and moved into a tie for the major league lead, sending Adam Conley and the Miami Marlins over the Texas Rangers 4-0 on Monday night.

Stanton has 32 homers, including six in his last seven games, and matched Yankees rookie Aaron Judge for most in the majors. Stanton hit a two-run drive in the first inning and a solo shot in the eighth.

Texas star Adrian Beltre went 4 for 4, giving him 2,993 career hits. He moved closer to becoming the 31st player to reach 3,000.

Conley (3-3) pitched seven impressive innings during his second start since getting recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on July 18. He allowed seven hits and struck out five as he pitched past the sixth inning for the first time this season.

Martin Perez (5-8) went seven innings (see full recap).