Phillies suffer another embarrassing loss to Indians

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Phillies suffer another embarrassing loss to Indians

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- They were both over quick. Real quick. Big early lead for the Indians. No fight from the Phillies. Embarrassing loss.

The Indians hammered the Phillies again Wednesday night, adding a 6-0 win to their 14-2 victory on Tuesday (see Instant Replay).

In the two-game series at Progressive Field, the Phillies were outscored 20-2, out-hit 31-8 and went 3 for 25 with runners on base and 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position.

Their two Cy Young Award winners, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, allowed a combined 12 earned runs and 18 hits in 9 2/3 innings to a team that came in three games under .500. And the Phillies’ bats were stifled by two starters with a combined eight career wins between them.

“They pretty much pounded us both games, there’s no way around it,” Lee said after giving up five runs, four earned and nine hits in six innings. “They crushed us both games. It was never really close, either one of them. We gotta have a little more pride than that and figure out a way to at least get back into games and make it somewhat competitive.”

After an encouraging three-game sweep of the Mets, the Phillies have regressed to 12-16, and the reality is that they’re 5-1 this year vs. the Mets and 7-15 against everybody else.

And Halladay and Lee have won just four of 12 starts.

“I felt OK,” Lee said. “I felt like they hit some decent pitches and got some breaks, and that’s what happens when you’re swinging the bat well as a team, putting the ball in play. It seems things go your way whenever as a group you’re squaring the ball up, and that’s what they’re doing. It seems like everything is going their way.”

Once again, the Phillies had tons of base runners. They had at least two men on base in five of the first seven innings. Their leadoff batter reached five of the first seven innings. Twice -- in the fourth and the seventh -- they had first and second with nobody out.

“We had chances,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We had men in scoring position. We just couldn’t knock them in.”

The top five in the lineup went 0 for 16, and the Phillies finished with just three hits against five Indians pitchers.

“Would’ve been nice to cash a couple in for sure,” said Michael Young, who went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and grounded into his seventh double-play of the year. “Like I said, we would’ve liked to cash in on a couple. If we could get some of those opportunities back, it’d be nice.

“They were swinging the bats well against two really good pitchers, so you have to give them some credit for that. But at the same time, we felt like we had a lot more to take offensively than what we showed these last couple games.”

This is the first time the Phillies have allowed 14 or more hits in consecutive games since a series against the Nationals last May.

The Indians have now scored 39 runs in their last four games, winning them by a combined 39-5.

“Hot,” Manuel said. “They're playing good. They have a lot of energy. Things are going good for them right now. They were aggressive. They hunted fastballs. And we gave them quite a few.”

The Phillies have now been shut out four times in their last 15 games. This is the first time they’ve been blanked four times in the first 28 games of the season since 1997.

Lee, making his first start in Cleveland since he was with the Indians in 2009, was better than Halladay a night earlier but did allow four earned runs and nine hits in six innings to fall to 2-2.

“The things I regret are obviously I walked a couple of guys and both scored,” he said. “I have to do a better job of at least making them work their way on base. But they got breaks when they needed them and they swung the bat well, you have to give them credit.
Lee was out-pitched by a 22-year-old right-hander making his sixth career start.

Trevor Bauer, promoted from Triple A Columbus earlier in the day, picked up his second career win despite walking six batters in five innings.

Bauer allowed only one hit -- a fourth-inning single by Domonic Brown -- and struck out five.

“We had some walks, but it was kind of tough to really get locked in on one certain pitch,” Young said. “He had good velocity, good breaking ball, threw his off-speed stuff over. Any count, really. There were no patterns.”

The Phillies fell to 12-16, still 5½ games behind the Braves in the NL East and trailing seven teams in the wild-card standings.

“We had a good series against the Mets and the Indians beat up on us the two games in here,” Manuel said. “We won three and all of a sudden come back and lose two. They took it to us pretty good.”

Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

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Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Yordano Ventura quit school as a teenager so he could begin working a construction job to help his family make ends meet, laboring day after day in the hot sun of the Dominican Republic.

It was a chance tryout with the Kansas City Royals that changed the trajectory of his life.

Yordano wowed scouts with an electrifying fastball, the best they had seen in years, and a confident demeanor that bordered on brash and arrogant. And both of those traits served him well as he rocketed to the major leagues, helped the Royals win a long-awaited World Series championship in 2015, and became one of the most popular players in a city that embraced baseball one again.

Ventura, whose nickname "Ace" fit so perfectly, died Sunday in a car crash on a stretch of highway near the town of San Adrian in his native Dominican Republic. He was 25.

"Our team and our organization is hurting deeply," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "It's certainly something that puts everything into strong perspective, and challenges us all to never grow tired or weary or cease to do what is right, and loving others. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow.

"We loved Yordano," Moore said. "We loved his heart, we loved who he was as a teammate, a friend. He was somebody that challenged us all and made us better and I'm going to miss him."

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a stretch of highway 40 miles northwest of Santo Domingo, the nation's capital. Mateo did not say whether Ventura was driving.

He's the second young star pitcher to die in past four months. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was 24 when he was killed along with two other men in a boating accident near Miami Beach in late September.

Also Sunday, former major league infielder Andy Marte died in a separate car accident in the Dominican Republic. Metropolitan traffic authorities said he died about 95 miles north of the capital.

"I was traveling to the airport this morning and I got a phone call wanting to know if I'd heard about Yordano, and I thought they meant Marte," Moore said. "My first thought was, `Were they together?'

"Then shortly afterwards, I got a call from Major League Baseball confirming this tragedy."

The Dominican Republic has the second-highest traffic-related death rate in the world -- officials there believe alcohol, speed and a blatant disregard for traffic laws is to blame. Oscar Taveras, Jose Oliva, Rufino Linares and Jose Uribe are among players who have died in crashes in the country.

It wasn't known whether Ventura had been drinking or speeding at the time of his accident.

Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, a fellow Dominican whom Ventura called his hero, posted pictures of Ventura and Marte on Twitter and said, "Guys, the only way we can pay tribute to you, is by reflecting on the adjustments we all have to make in this game called life."

Moore speaks frequently with Latin American players about dangers of returning home, including driving on the perilous roads.

"I'm more intentional about it to the point where it probably goes in one ear and out the other," Moore said, "but we're constantly discussing these things."

The Royals lowered flags at Kauffman Stadium to half-staff Sunday, and displayed Ventura's photograph on the large, crown-shaped scoreboard in centerfield of the empty ballpark. Fans were leaving flowers, hats and other mementos within hours of learning of his death.

Royals teammates learned the news in a text chain and took to Twitter to share their sorrow.

"I love you my brother. I'm in disbelief and don't know what to say," first baseman Eric Hosmer said.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas also expressed disbelief, tweeting: "I love you Ace. I don't know what to say other than I'm going to miss you a lot. RIP ACE."

Ventura will be buried Tuesday in the Dominican Republic. Moore, manager Ned Yost and other members of the Royals are planning to attend.

Before his start in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series, Ventura paid tribute to Taveras, his close friend and countryman who had been killed days earlier in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Ventura wrote "RIP O.T (hash)18" on his hat and also wrote messages on his glove, cleats and the mound before shutting out San Francisco for seven innings in a win.

"If he was still here, I would for sure be talking to him, and Oscar would be very happy for me," Ventura said afterward. "Oscar was a very humble guy and very likable, and I'm going to miss him a lot."

Ventura signed a $23 million, five-year deal with the Royals shortly before he started on opening day in 2015. He then helped them bounce back from their loss to the Giants in Game 7 by returning to the World Series and beating the New York Mets in five games for their first crown since 1985.

The right-hander went 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA last season, and his fiery demeanor was never more evident than when he hit Orioles star Manny Machado with a fastball to trigger a brawl. Ventura was suspended nine games for the pitch, though it was cut to eight on appeal.

In a surreal coincidence, the 33-year-old Marte played his final game in the big leagues for Arizona on Aug. 6, 2014. Ventura started that game for Kansas City.

"Today is a very sad day for our entire game and particularly for the many loyal fans in the Dominican Republic, the home of both Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

Said players' union head Tony Clark: "It's never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and there are no words to describe the feeling of losing two young men in the prime of their lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends, teammates and fans throughout the United States and Latin America."

Moore said he spoke to Miami general manager Mike Hill early Sunday, in part because Moore admired the grace and heart in which the Marlins organization dealt with Fernandez's death.

It wasn't certain whether Fernandez was driving the boat when it crashed on Sept. 25. He had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.147, above Florida's legal limit of 0.08, according to autopsy reports released by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office.

"That was one of the first things that came to mind when I began to figure out how we were going to process this," Moore said. "Mike was able to provide some insight. Just give me some comfort, really."

Ventura wound up pitching his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura was a true rags-to-riches story. He quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when he heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy located on his picturesque island home.

Still, the odds were long that Ventura would ever make it to the big leagues. Very few players from the Dominican academies reached the pinnacle of the sport.

But over time, Ventura was able to harness one of the most electric fastballs that scouts had seen in years, and his headstrong and confident nature was essential to his rapid rise. He made his debut to great fanfare in 2013, allowing just one run again Cleveland in a sign of things to come.

He eventually became a cornerstone of a youth movement that included young stars such as Hosmer and Moustakas, one that carried the Royals first to respectability, then to the top of the American League.

He was 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and helped the Royals reach the World Series for the first time in nearly three decades. Then he helped to lead them back to the Fall Classic in 2015, this time completing the job on a crisp night in New York.

"He always had a zest for life, an innocence about the game, a freshness, a fearlessness," Moore said, his voice cracking. "He was a very compassionate human being, loved to compete, no doubt challenged us, but that made us better. Nobody could ever doubt how much he cared about his teammates, how much he cared about the fans, and how much he loved to compete and to pitch."

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

The Phillies on Thursday officially announced the signing of outfielder Michael Saunders to a one-year deal with a club option for 2018. 

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Saunders will make $9 million this season with the Phillies and the club option for 2018 will be worth $11 million with escalators potentially pushing it to $14 million.

Saunders, 30, is the left-handed hitting outfield bat the Phils were seeking. He hit 24 home runs for the Blue Jays last season in his walk year, making the AL All-Star team before slumping in the second half.

Saunders hit .298/.372/.551 with 16 homers in 82 games for the Blue Jays before the All-Star break, then hit .178/.282/.357 with eight homers in 58 games after.

He had a good year against same-handed pitching, hitting .275 with a .927 OPS and eight homers against lefties. 

He'll likely start in right field for the Phillies, with Odubel Herrera in center and Howie Kendrick in left (see Phils' projected lineup).

It was important to Phillies GM Matt Klentak that the player he signed to fill the spot in the outfield was not going to block young outfielders like Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and others.

On a one-year deal, Saunders came relatively cheap to the Phils, lingering in free agency as other hitters found contracts. In the middle of last summer, Saunders seemed poised for a multi-year contract like the four-year, $52 million deal Josh Reddick signed with the Astros. His second half cost him some money.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Saunders, the Phillies designated right-hander Severino Gonzalez for assignment.