Today in the NL East: Pair go for 13th win

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Today in the NL East: Pair go for 13th win

The Phillies lost again Friday night, falling 6-2 to the lowly Colorado Rockies (see Instant Replay). Cliff Lee took his sixth loss, the team came up short for the 11th time in 12 games, and Charlie Manuel was not happy afterward (see story).

The Phils will look to snap the skid Saturday night at Coors Field, when Vance Worley will take the hill against the Rockies' Jeremy Guthrie (see game notes).

Meanwhile, the team has yet to lock up Cole Hamels, though Ruben Amaro insists the Phils' goal is to sign him long term (see story).

Here's what's going on around the division on the first Saturday of the second half:

Mets at Braves, 4:05 p.m.
After pitching a scoreless inning in the All-Star Game, Mets ace R.A. Dickey will lead the Mets against Tommy Hanson and the Braves at Turner Field.

Dickey (12-1, 2.40 ERA), who leads in WHIP and is tied for the lead in wins, will look to become baseballs first 13-game winner. He hasnt lost since April 18, coincidentally at Atlanta, when he allowed eight runs in 4 13 innings. He is 0-2 with a 6.92 ERA in seven career games at Turner Field.

Hanson (10-5, 3.71) has won six of his last seven decisions, but he has taken two losses at the hands of the Mets already this year. Hes also struggled this season at home, where he is 3-3 with a 4.63 ERA as opposed to 7-2 with a 3.00 ERA on the road.

After missing the Braves 7-5 win Friday, Brian McCann expects to return from paternity leave on Saturday. He was red hot before the break, hitting .421 with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last five games.

Nationals at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
It may be tough to believe, but its July 14 and Washington still boasts the best record in the National League. Saturday night against the Marlins, the Nats will look to build upon their division lead and go for win No. 51 in Miami.

Two-time All-Star Gio Gonzalez (12-3, 2.92) takes the ball for Washington. A winner in four straight starts, Gonzalez also possesses a strikeout rate of 10.45 per nine, second in the league only to teammate Stephen Strasburg.

Mark Buehrle (8-8, 3.25) goes for the Marlins. The 33-year-old has been streaky all season but is hot right now with a three-game winning streak. Over that span, he has yielded just two runs in 21 23 innings, striking out 22 and walking three. Before the streak began, he had lost four in a row.

Miami will be without its only All-Star, Giancarlo Stanton, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list after undergoing knee surgery.

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler played with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez when the two were growing up in Cuba. They traveled together to Venezuela for a youth tournament.

Soler said Fernandez's ability was obvious, right from the start.

"Since he was a child, since we were kids, I knew he had something," Soler said through a translator. "He had a talent. It was very impressive."

Fernandez's death in a boating accident at the age of 24 cast a dark shadow over the major leagues on Sunday. Miami's home game against Atlanta was canceled, and several ballparks observed moments of silence. Wrigley Field's iconic hand-operated scoreboard displayed Fernandez's No. 16 in its pitching column next to Miami.

But the loss of Fernandez was felt most acutely in baseball's growing Cuban community.

"He was one of those guys that everybody loved," St. Louis Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena said. "He was one of those guys that everybody knew exactly what he meant to our community. For us, it's a big, big loss. It's one of those things where our thoughts and prayers are obviously with his family, the Marlins' organization and the fans. But it gets a little bit closer because he was part of our Cuban family."

There were 23 Cubans on opening-day major league rosters this year, an increase of five over last season and the most since the commissioner's office began releasing data in 1995. Many of the players share similar stories when it comes to their perilous journey from the communist country to the majors, and the difficulty of adjusting to life in the United States.

A native of Santa Clara, Cuba, Fernandez was unsuccessful in his first three attempts to defect, and spent several months in prison. At 15, Fernandez and his mother finally made it to Mexico, and were reunited in Florida with his father, who had escaped from Cuba two years earlier.

He was drafted by the Marlins in 2011, and quickly turned into one of the majors' top pitchers.

"How he was on the mound was a reflection of him," Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "A guy who had a lot of fun, was himself. A very talkative guy, he would come into the room and you'd know he was in the room. Never big-leagued anyone, very professional. No matter what, he would talk to you about hitting, because he thought he was the best hitter, and he (would) talk to you about pitching, because he thought he was the best pitcher."

Alonso said Fernandez's death was "a big-time shock." Yasiel Puig used torn pieces of white athletic tape to display Fernandez's jersey on the wall in the home dugout at Dodger Stadium. Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz, who had known Fernandez since they were little kids, declined an interview request through a team spokeswoman.

"We Cuban players know each other well and all of us have a great relationship," Pena said. "For us, it's devastating news when we woke up. We were sending text messages to each other and we were showing support. It's something that obviously nobody expects."

Fernandez, who became a U.S. citizen last year, also was beloved for his stature in the Cuban community in Miami.

"He was a great humanitarian," Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman said through a translator. "He gave a lot to the community and I think that's why he got a lot of respect from the community in terms of what a great person he was and always giving, in terms of always willing to help out in whatever way he can to try to better and progress within the community someone that perhaps wasn't as fortunate as he was."

The 28-year-old Chapman lives in the Miami-area in the offseason. He said he spent some time with Fernandez while he was home.

"He would come by my house. I would go by his," Chapman said. "We would have long conversations. We would talk a lot. We spent a lot of good amount of time together. It was very special for me."

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

NEW YORK — The clubhouse mood following the Phillies17-0 loss to the Mets Sunday was somber, in part because of the disastrous game that had just wrapped up, but also because of the tragic news of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

“It was rough. People are devastated. I didn’t even know him and I was crushed,” Phillies starter Jake Thompson said. “I can only imagine how that clubhouse feels. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, to deal with something of that magnitude.”

Both teams paused for a moment of silence before Sunday’s game and the Mets taped a jersey bearing Fernandez’s name and number onto their dugout wall.

“This morning, that was quite a surprise,” manager Pete Mackanin said of the atmosphere of the day. “I don’t think it affected the players once the game started. It was such bad news this morning that everybody was kind of melancholy.”

Fernandez had built a strong track record against the Phillies in his young career, amassing a 2.88 ERA in six starts.

“It’s kind of clich√© to say but you look at the start of his career and he could have been a Hall of Famer,” Thompson said.

Asked how he would remember facing Fernandez, Mackanin was succinct.

“He was a helluva pitcher,” he said.

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