Lack of execution costs Papelbon, Phils in loss


Lack of execution costs Papelbon, Phils in loss


Jonathan Papelbon had an assortment of excuses he could have picked from.

He hadnt pitched in five days. He was pitching in a non-save situation. He was facing a guy he had never seen before.

After allowing a mammoth game-winning, three-run ninth-inning home run to unheralded 24-year-old rookie Jordany Valdespin, who was playing for the Buffalo Bisons three days ago, Papelbon opted not to use any.

Its execution, he said. Go out there and try to do your job and get outs whenever called upon. Thats basically what it boils down to. It has nothing to do with the situation that youre put in.

Valdespin, who was 0 for 6 before Monday night in his brief major-league career, sent an 0-1 Papelbon sinker far over the right-field wall to give the Mets a 5-2 win over the Phillies in the first game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park (see Roob's Instant Replay).

The Phils fell to 14-16 and dropped five games behind the first-place Nationals, who were idle. They havent been over .500 since they were 1-0.

The homer was the first Papelbon had allowed with more than one runner on base in nearly five years, since Russ Adams of the Blue Jays hit a grand slam off him at Fenway Park on Sept. 19, 2007.

Valdespin became the first Met to homer for his first career hit since Mike Jacobs hit one off Esteban Loaiza on Aug. 21, 2005, at Shea Stadium.

Papelbon hadnt pitched since Tuesday in Atlanta, when he earned his ninth save in nine chances with a scoreless inning in a 4-2 win.

But he said the long layoff wasnt a factor in his ugly ninth inning, when he walked .168 hitter Ike Davis, allowed a long double by .200 hitter Mike Nickeas and then gave up Valdespins improbable blast.

Nah, not getting work in five days has nothing to do with it, he said. Its all about execution, and for me I cant afford a ... walk and a hanging breaking ball in big situations. Its execution.

Valdespin began the season with the Mets and was recalled Saturday to replace injured Ruben Tejada on the roster.

Valdespin, 24, hit 33 career home runs in 1,500 minor-league at-bats.

Im not nervous because I have six at-bats, Valdespin said. Its exciting because its my first hit in the big leagues. It's exciting giving the chance for my team to win."

Papelbon had allowed only one run and six hits in his first 11 games as a Phillie.

Threw him a sinker, and it wasnt really as executed as Id like it to be, Papelbon said. But were in the big leagues, man, and its part of the game. I could have thrown a better pitch. It kind of hung a little.

Other than that ... typical day for the Phillies.

They scored single runs in the first and second innings, then didnt score again against five Mets pitchers despite loading the bases with one out in the seventh and getting second and third with one out in the eighth.

Couldnt get nothing going after the second, manager Charlie Manuel said. We had chances in the seventh and eighth -- big chances -- and we couldnt do it. Weve got to get somebody in, and were having trouble doing it. When you dont take advantage of that, usually something not-too-good happens to you.

Roy Halladay allowed only one base-runner through 5 23 innings and was coasting along with a 2-0 lead when the Mets tied the game on David Wrights two-run, two-out double over the third-base bag.

Fair? Foul?

I thought it was close, Halladay said. I was asking Polly Placido Polanco, and Jim Wolf, third base umpire took offense to it and said it was over the middle of the bag, so that was kind of that. But I thought it was pretty close.

Instead of a harmless strike, Andres Torres and Kirk Nieuwenhuis came around to score. The one-hit shutout was gone, and the game was tied.

Two runs, tied the game up, and made it tough for us, Halladay said. I felt good the whole time and felt like we made good pitches the whole time. I would have liked to have that ground ball hit at Polly, but it was right on the line. You try to get the next guy and move on.

After his last start -- eight earned runs in 5 13 innings in Atlanta Wednesday -- Halladay was very good. He allowed five hits and two runs in seven innings, walking one and striking out seven.

We made a few mechanical changes and really I felt good, Halladay said. I felt good last time, theres times where youre not getting behind the ball and youre getting on the side of it and things can be a little flatter, and thats one of those things, you try to make adjustments. I felt like today, movement was better. A lot of things were better. I was happy with the adjustments we made.

Its tough to go out and feel like youre doing what you need to do and still coming up a little short, but I felt like the changes we made were good, and I felt like the movement was better today than it probably was in Atlanta.

The Phillies appeared to take a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Hunter Pence beat Mets shortstop Justin Turners relay throw to first after an infield grounder, scoring Juan Pierre.

But as the crowd cheered, Shane Victorino was cited by second base umpire Ron Kulpa with interfering with Turners ability to throw to first. Victorino slid right into Turner, nowhere near the second-base bag.

I just went aggressively in that play, and he got the correct call, Victorino said. Not saying I was trying to get away with one. My thought process was try to break up the double play. He called interference, and it was the right call.

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MLB Notes: Sore left foot sidelines Red Sox's David Ortiz against Blue Jays


MLB Notes: Sore left foot sidelines Red Sox's David Ortiz against Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has been scratched from the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays with a sore left foot.

He is day to day.

Ortiz, who leads the major leagues with 46 RBIs, 23 doubles, and 121 total bases, was hit on the foot by a pitch in the fifth inning of Saturday's 10-9 loss. Ortiz struck out on the play.

Hanley Ramirez moved from first base to DH, Travis Shaw moved from third to first and Josh Rutledge replaced Shaw at third.

Ortiz is batting .339 with 13 home runs. He has announced his intention to retire at the end of the season.

Yankees: Beltran misses Rays game with shoulder tightness
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran is out of the starting lineup Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays because of right shoulder tightness but says he is available off the bench.

Beltran was hurt Saturday on a checked swing.

He said Sunday: "A little sore, but I'm good. I saw the doctor yesterday and he said that it should go away in a couple days, so I'm not worried."

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira didn't start for the fifth consecutive game because of neck stiffness but said he "felt pretty good" after resuming batting practice and taking grounders.

Teixeira had a cortisone shot Thursday. He said that made a "night and day difference."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is hopeful that Teixeira can start Monday night's game at Toronto.

Royals: C Salvador Perez out 7-10 days
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez is expected to be out 7 to 10 days with a bruised left thigh after colliding with rookie third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert while catching a foul pop up in the ninth inning Saturday.

Perez had a MRI on Saturday night, which confirmed the injury was a contusion with no structural damage.

"Hopefully it's not going to require a trip to the DL," Royals manager Ned Yost said Sunday. "We're hoping he'll be back in 7 to 10 days. It could be earlier or later. We'll just have to wait and see and just manage it day to day.

"Great news, you don't want to have to put him on the DL and he's ready to play in eight days and has to sit there for another week."

The Royals recalled catcher Tony Cruz from Triple-A Omaha, where he was hitting .278 with three home runs and 20 RBIs in 31 games. Cruz has a .220 average in 229 games with St. Louis the past five years (see full story).

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Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph, Andres Blanco in to help avoid sweep vs. Cubs


Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph, Andres Blanco in to help avoid sweep vs. Cubs

Seeking to avoid being swept for the first time since their opening series in Cincinnati, the Phillies on Sunday afternoon will ask Tommy Joseph to provide a much needed spark.

Joseph, 24, sat out Saturday's 4-1 loss to the MLB-best Cubs with Chicago trotting out right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who crafted a five-hit, one-run complete game masterpiece.

It will be Joseph's fifth game against a righty this week, as manager Pete Mackanin's platoon at first base with Ryan Howard seemingly is coming to an end. Joseph will bat fifth.

With the Phillies averaging 3.22 runs per game, second-worst in baseball, and owning a run differential of minus-38, playing Joseph more is one of a few moves Mackanin can make.

Take into account Howard's average dipped to .154 after an 0 for 4, two-strikeout game Saturday, the decision to give Joseph more at-bats makes sense. It has for a while now.

Plus, Joseph has enjoyed success during his time up with the Phillies. The first baseman is hitting .290 with two home runs and four RBIs. He is, however, hitting just .211 with seven of his 10 strikeouts in 19 at-bats against righties. He'll face a good one in John Lackey (4-2, 3.32) on Sunday.

Mackanin has also decided to start Andres Blanco at second base against Chicago, which has proved to be too much for the Phils through the first two games. Blanco, 32, will bat third against Lackey, who he has never faced in his career. The utility man is hitting .281 with one long ball and eight RBIs in 35 games this season.

In other lineup news, the Cubs will start Villanova product Matt Szczur in left field in the series finale, giving Jorge Soler the day off. During his junior baseball season at 'Nova in 2010, Szczur took time off to donate bone marrow that helped saved a young girl in Ukraine. (Read more on Szczur here from's Jim Salisbury.) Szczur is hitting .375 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 40 at-bats this season with Chicago.

Here are today's full lineups:

1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Andres Blanco, 2B
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Vince Velasquez, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jayson Heyward, RF
3. Kris Bryant, 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Addison Russell, SS
8. Matt Szczur, LF
9. John Lackey, P

For more on today's game, read Steven Tyding's game notes.

Phillies-Cubs 5 things: Getting Vince Velasquez back on track


Phillies-Cubs 5 things: Getting Vince Velasquez back on track

Phillies (26-23) at Cubs (33-14)
2:20 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies have lost back-to-back games to the MLB-best Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and on Sunday afternoon, they'll look to salvage a victory in the series finale.

Here are five things to get you ready for the ballgame:

1. Avoiding a sweep
Phillies fans had losing shoved down their throats for long stretches last season. This season has been much different … at least until the last three series.

With Saturday's loss, the Phils have lost three consecutive series for the first time in 2016 and will look to avoid their first sweep since their opening series in Cincinnati. The 4-1 victory by the Cubs was the Phillies' fourth loss in five games. They haven't lost five of six since September 2015. 

Meanwhile, the Cubs have won four straight games after losing eight of 12 games in mid-May. A win Sunday would give Chicago its fourth win streak of at least four games already in 2016. 

If that doesn't underline how tough a task the Phillies have ahead of them, Sunday's starter will do the trick.

2. Solving Lackey
John Lackey doesn't have the pizzazz of a Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester, but the veteran righty has been a consistent force in the Cubs' rotation. Coming over from the rival Cardinals in free agency, Lackey has a 4-2 record with a 3.38 ERA in nine starts in 2016.

However, the underlying numbers have been even better. He's completed six innings in all but one start and has seven quality starts. He has 61 strikeouts compared to just 13 walks and 45 hits in 61⅓ innings. 

Lackey has been a workhorse for the Cubs and has struck out at least five batters in each of his last four starts. 

The good news for Phillies fans? Despite Lackey's solid numbers, the Cubs have lost four of his nine starts.

3. Getting back on track
Given that he's just 23 years old, it's tough to expect Vince Velasquez to be an ace all season, even if he may fill that role at some point in the not-so-distant future. 

So Velasquez's relatively minor struggles over his last few starts shouldn't worry fans as a sign of things to come. In Detroit, the flamethrowing righty completed only four innings and allowed three home runs. While he struck out 10 and gave up no runs the start before against Miami, he went only five innings.

Those two starts came after consecutive outings in which Velasquez surrendered four runs in six innings. His last official quality start came May 1 against the Indians, when he threw six shutout innings.

While he's faced some strong lineups like the Mets and Nationals, the Cubs are a force Velasquez hasn't dealt with quite yet. He has no career numbers against the Cubs' probable starters, a group that has combined to be one of baseball's top offenses in 2016.

4. Who's on first?
Ryan Howard's final season in Philadelphia has been a grind to say the least. The veteran first baseman has just six hits in 58 at-bats in May and has just a .154 batting average this year. Howard's eight home runs have been a bright spot, but he doesn't have a homer since May 11.

Howard has three hits (two home runs) in 16 career at-bats against Lackey. But with right-handed first baseman Tommy Joseph excelling in his first big-league action, manager Pete Mackanin may turn to the rookie Sunday, as Howard tries to end his slump.

5. This and that
• Obubel Herrera is 3 for 4 in his only career appearances against Lackey. Maikel Franco is 2 for 3 against the righty.

• The Phillies are 3-0 in the final game of road trips this year … and 3-0 in the final game of homestands, too. 

• The Cubs have not swept the Phillies in Chicago since 1995.