Utley healthy as scouts begin to eye Phillies

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Utley healthy as scouts begin to eye Phillies

It’s the time of the year when high-ranking scouts pop into ballparks to check out players that might be available around the July trade deadline.

A Boston Red Sox scout was in town for the Phillies-Nationals series earlier this week. Jonathan Papelbon pitched three times in that series to mixed results. The Red Sox, of course, have closer issues. So do the Tigers, who had a scout in Denver while the Phils were there last weekend.

On Friday night, the night Chase Utley came off the disabled list, scouts from the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants showed up at Citizens Bank Park. It was not known why they were in attendance, but both teams have suffered injuries in the infield and if those injuries don’t clear up, a player like Utley might be of interest.

The Yankees are hoping that first baseman Mark Teixeira makes it back quickly from his second right wrist injury of the season. Utley has played first base and could be attractive to the Yankees if Teixeira continues to have problems.

The Giants hope to get third baseman Pablo Sandoval back from the DL next week, but could look to trade for a second baseman and move Marco Scutaro to third base if Sandoval’s foot problem persists.

There are still almost six weeks before the trade deadline, and these are far off scenarios, but it’s never too early for potentially needy teams to start gathering intelligence.

The Phillies, of course, have not decided if they’re going to sell off talent. They are still hoping to make a run, but losses like Friday night’s -- Cole Hamels blew a 3-0 lead and the offense left 10 men on base in a 4-3 loss to the Mets (see game recap) -- make it more and more difficult to believe in this team, which has lost 9 of 13 to fall to 35-39.

Utley, 34, will be a free agent at season’s end. If the Phils don’t make that run in the next six weeks, he could be attractive to a contender.

Utley is focused solely on making that run.

“We have to stick with it,” he said after Friday night’s game. “We have a lot of games to play. If you ride the roller coaster, you can get in trouble. We just have to stay with it.”

Though he went 0 for 5 (with a couple of hard-hit balls) and left three runners on base, Utley came out of Friday night’s game feeling good. He missed a month with a strained right oblique muscle, an injury that can drive a hitter crazy if it’s not healed.

“I think I’ve overcome it at this point,” Utley said after the game. “It felt great. The last two games (at Reading on minor-league rehab) felt good and tonight it felt good.

“I had some opportunities to drive in runs and I wasn’t able to do that. But in the overall picture, I feel good and I feel like I can contribute.”

For now, any contributions that Utley makes will come in Philadelphia.

After that?

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Phils can make a statement tonight vs. Yu Darvish

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Phils can make a statement tonight vs. Yu Darvish

Phillies (59-91) vs. Dodgers (96-64)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Nick Pivetta the giant-killer helped the Phillies to a series-opening victory last night in a game the Phillies had no business winning. Despite having the highest ERA in the majors (6.57) among pitchers with at least 100 innings, Pivetta has somehow led the Phillies to wins in games against Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale, the sport's two best lefties.

The Phils get another tough test tonight in right-hander Yu Darvish, who can be just as unhittable as Kershaw when he's not missing over the middle.

• Aaron Altherr's grand slam last night was the first ever allowed by Kershaw, who has made 302 career starts including the postseason. The Phillies are now the only team against which Kershaw is two games under .500 in his career.

• Altherr this season has eight home runs in 109 plate appearances against lefties. From 2014-16, he had just one homer against lefties in 106 plate appearances.

• Altherr has also homered 12 times in 48 games at Citizens Bank Park this year. One outta four ain't bad.

• Interesting that the Phillies shifted J.P. Crawford to third base last night and brought Cesar Hernandez in to play second once they had the lead. It kind of shows that this coaching staff views Crawford as a better defender than Maikel Franco, which is meaningful moving forward. Crawford made a fantastic running barehand pickup last night to get the Phils a tough out.

• One of the things that makes Darvish so good is that his velocity ranges from about 68 mph with his slow curve to 96 mph with his fastball. He has 9.96 strikeouts per nine innings this season, 11th-most in baseball.

• Aaron Nola (11-10, 3.60) starts tonight for the Phillies, coming off a career-high 11 strikeouts vs. the Marlins. The Dodgers are a very good offensive team but this is still a decent matchup for Nola because of the swing-and-miss in the games of Cody Bellinger, Curtis Gradnerson, Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig. Look for Nola to attack Bellinger with two-seam fastballs that start inside and come back over the inside corner after Pivetta had success doing so last night.

• Since Aug. 27, the only team in the majors with a lower bullpen ERA than the Phillies is the Cleveland Indians. Luis Garcia fired another scoreless inning last night. He's allowed one run in his last 17 appearances.

Best of MLB: Aaron Judge gets 44th home run as Yankees beat Twins

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Best of MLB: Aaron Judge gets 44th home run as Yankees beat Twins

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge hit his 44th home run, Aroldis Chapman pitched out of big trouble in the eighth inning and the New York Yankees edged the Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Monday night to increase their AL wild-card lead.

Todd Frazier hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Jaime Garcia gave the Yankees a splendid performance against the team that traded him this year after only one start. New York, still chasing first-place Boston in the AL East, won the opener of a three-game series that could serve as a potential postseason preview two weeks from now.

The Yankees have built a five-game cushion for the league's top wild card with 12 to play. Minnesota is in the second spot, 1 1/2 games ahead of the idle Los Angeles Angels. So if the standings hold, New York will host the Twins in the one-game playoff on Oct. 3. (see full recap).

Olson, Lowrie lead Oakland past in Detroit
DETROIT -- Matt Olson homered, Jed Lowrie drove in three runs and the Oakland Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Monday night.

Olson became the first A's player to homer in four straight games since Coco Crisp in 2013, and now has 14 home runs in his last 20 games.

Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell left the game in the eighth inning after getting hit in the head with a line drive off the bat off Ryon Healy. The hit was measured at 102.6 mph by StatCast and hit Ferrell in the right side of the head.

He never went down, but jogged immediately toward the Detroit dugout and was escorted to the clubhouse.

Nicholas Castellanos had three hits for the Tigers, extending his career-best hitting streak to 15 games (see full recap).

Stanton hits 55th homer to help Marlins beat Mets
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton hit his 55th homer -- and his first in nine days -- while driving in four runs to help the Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 13-1 Monday night.

Batting third for the first time this year, Stanton hit a three-run line drive into the home run sculpture at Marlins Park in the fourth inning against Matt Harvey (5-6). With that, the MLB home run leader ended a drought of 29 at-bats without one.

Stanton's homer total is the highest since Ryan Howard hit 58 in 2006. Stanton added a run-scoring single in Miami's seven-run fifth.

The Marlins, back home after a trip extended by three games due to Hurricane Irma, won for only the fourth time in the past 21 games.

Marcell Ozuna had four hits, including his 34th home run. Dee Gordon also had four hits, among them a two-run triple. Ichiro Suzuki added two hits and an RBI, while rookie Brian Anderson drove in two runs with his first career triple.

Stanton came into the game batting .147 in his previous 19 games. He has been rested and held out of the starting lineup three times in the past 10 games, including Sunday (see full recap).

Suter, Braun help Brewers beat Bucs to gain in playoff race
PITTSBURGH -- Brent Suter pitched five efficient innings, Ryan Braun homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0 on Monday night to gain ground in the NL playoff chase.

Milwaukee pulled within 3 1/2 games of the Cubs in the NL Central and two games behind the Rockies for the final NL wild card. Chicago and Colorado were both off Monday.

Suter (3-2) allowed five hits and struck out four, throwing just 64 pitches before handing off to the bullpen. Five relievers split the final four innings, with Corey Knebel pitching the ninth for his 36th save in 41 tries.

Braun's solo shot, his 17th of the season, came in the fourth inning off starter Jameson Taillon (7-7). In the sixth inning, former Pirates infielder Neil Walker added on with an RBI single that ended Taillon's night.

Taillon had his last turn in the rotation skipped after a poor start Sept. 7 and rebounded by giving up two runs and six hits in five innings. Taillon walked one and struck out four.

Travis Shaw hit an RBI single to score Walker in the eighth. It was Shaw's team-leading 96th RBI this year. Braun, Shaw and Walker each had two hits (see full recap).