Friday, April 15, 2016

Braves rally from behind for first win

On the ropes early, and in danger of extending their season-opening losing streak even further, the Braves showed resolve and rallied behind three RBIs from Adonis Garcia, including a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth inning, to defeat the Marlins, 6-3, on Friday at Marlins Park.
Garcia, who committed two errors in the third inning, became the Braves' offensive hero late with his key hits, which enabled Atlanta to avoid dropping to 0-10 for the first time since 1988. The Marlins, meanwhile, let a three-run lead slip away. They had the chance to break the game open early but bounced into three double plays, and fell to 12-26 all-time against Atlanta at Marlins Park.
Marlins lefty Wei-Yin Chen, going 10 days between starts due to a bruised left elbow, gave Miami a terrific start. He faced the minimum for 6 1/3 innings as the Marlins built their three-run lead. But with one out in the seventh, Atlanta started its comeback. Daniel Castro andFreddie Freeman had back-to-back singles, and Garcia dropped an opposite-field RBI double. Chen was lifted for David Phelps, who induced an RBI groundout from Gordon Beckham. Phelps then struck out pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson.
In the eighth inning, Nick Markakis had a game-tying single off Chris Narveson, who loaded the bases with two outs by hitting Freeman with a pitch. Bryan Morris entered and surrendered the two-run single to Garcia and an RBI single to Beckham.
Pushing buttons: Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez pushed all the right buttons in a four-run eighth inning. Down 3-2, pinch-runner Mallex Smith stole second and scored the tying run courtesy of Markakis, who was moved to the leadoff spot for this game. Pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski was hit by a pitch and scored the go-ahead run on Garcia's hit.
Chen's no-no bid: When Chen walked Markakis on four pitches to start the game, it looked like it could be a wild night for the left-hander. But Chen induced a 6-4-3 double play, and retired Freeman on a grounder to short. The lefty retired 12 straight and held Atlanta hitless until Beckham's one-out single in the fifth. The next batter, Jeff Francoeur, bounced into a 5-4-3 double play. Chen, however, settled for a no-decision.
Double-play trouble for Miami: The Marlins were all over Braves starter Williams Perezearly, collecting eight hits and two walks off the right-hander in 4 1/3 innings. But they managed just three runs, the third coming on Martin Prado's RBI double. But Prado bounced into two double plays, in the first off Perez and in the seventh inning against Alexi OgandoChristian Yelich also tapped into a 4-6-3 double play in the third inning off Perez.
The Marlins have not had a pitcher turn in a complete game since Henderson Alvarez on June 3, 2014, against Tampa Bay. Chen was at 69 pitches through six innings and looked like he might have a chance to go the distance, but he was lifted with one out in the seventh inning. Miami has now gone 274 straight games without a starter going the distance.
Braves: Bud Norris gets the start on Saturday in the second of a three-game series at Marlins Park. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET. Norris has dropped his first two decisions this season, both to Washington. He looks to improve on a 6.00 ERA over 12 innings this season.
Marlins: Tom Koehler comes off a tough loss at Washington, where he gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings, to take on the Braves Saturday. The right-hander has faced Atlanta 14 times, with 10 starts, and he's 2-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 67 innings.

Five-run 1st backs Ross in Nats' rout of Phils

The Nationals showed plenty of firepower Friday night in a 9-1 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park as Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson.
Michael Taylor hit a leadoff home run and Jayson Werth added a three-run double in the Nationals' five-run first inning. The Nationals scored a run in both the third and fifth innings before Bryce Harper hit a towering two-run home run to right field in the sixth -- the 101st of his career -- to give the Nationals a nine-run lead.
"We are battling every day. We are having a lot of fun," Harper said. "I think [manager] Dusty [Baker] raises a lot of emotion in the game, a lot of opportunity for all of us. It's a lot fun coming in here every single day playing the game of baseball."
The offense backed a strong start from the Nationals' Joe Ross, who allowed three hits over 7 2/3 shutout innings.
The Phillies' rotation had been the best in baseball through 10 games with a 2.14 ERA and 0.81 WHIP, but right-hander Jeremy Hellickson allowed seven hits, six runs (five earned runs) in just three innings.
"It wasn't a lot of fun," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It seemed like we were out of it from the beginning."
Ryan Howard tied Joe DiMaggio for 81st on the all-time home run list with his 361st career homer in the ninth for the Phillies' only run.
"It's surreal," Howard said. "Sometimes it's hard to think of your name being in the same breath as some of these guys that have played the game before. So it's a very humbling situation. I don't know. Words really can't describe that kind of feeling."
Five in the first: Taylor launched the second pitch of the game over the left-field wall, and that was merely a sign of things to come in Hellickson's first clunker of the season. It took him 45 pitches to get through the first inning, in which the Nationals batted around and plated five runs. At one point, Hellickson had thrown nine strikes (in 20 pitches); four of them had gone for hits.
"We jumped them early," Baker said about the first inning. "Michael can get you on the board in the first inning 1-0. That's what he did. We got some hits. That was a big, big double by Jayson Werth. We had some real good at-bats that inning."
"I thought my stuff was good," Hellickson said. "I just didn't command like I needed to. It's an aggressive lineup. I didn't make a lot of quality pitches 0-0, or even with two strikes."
Ross' quality start: Ross struck out five and walked two for his second win of the season. At one point, Ross retired 12 straight batters.The only time he was in trouble was in the third inning, when the Phillies loaded the bases with two outs. However, Maikel Franco grounded out to shortstop Danny Espinosa to end the threat.
"The Phillies were aggressive, so I had some quick innings on breaking balls and changeups early in the count," Ross said. "I felt pretty good. Fastball command was pretty good. [people were making plays and it all added up."
Great night for Harper: A day after hitting career home run No. 100, Harper had a great night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored. He raised his batting average from .250 to .313.
Impossible to overcome: The five-run first proved to be insurmountable for a Phillies offense that is expected to struggle to score runs all year. In its first 10 games, Philadelphia had skirted by on the tails of excellent starting pitching and typically one breakout offensive performance to win a ballgame. The Phillies got only two men in scoring position all night before Howard's ninth-inning homer, and that was when Franco stranded all three men on base in the third. Through 11 games, Philadelphia is averaging 2.72 runs.
"Obviously we're not hitting the ball very well right now," Mackanin said. "But anytime you get beat up like that early and you've gotta climb out of that hole early, it's tough."
"Over the course of a season you're going to have games like this. These aren't really the guys you want to have it against." -- Howard, on the team's offensive struggles
The Nationals' 8-1 record is the best start in franchise history (Nationals/Expos) and in D.C. baseball history.
Darin Ruf lined out to Werth in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter. Ruf had not played since Monday after he jammed his left shoulder diving for a ball. Ruf is expected to be in the starting lineup Sunday afternoon against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
Nationals: The Nationals play the second game of a three-game series against the Phillies behind Max Scherzer Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Washington overcame a rocky outing from Scherzer, who battled through six innings, surrendering four runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts against Atlanta on Monday.
Phillies: The Phillies will be looking to rebound from Friday's one-sided loss. They sendAaron Nola to the mound Saturday night, hoping Hellickson's outing was merely a blip on the radar, rather than a serious interruption to the momentum Philadelphia's rotation had prior to Friday.

HR from Iannetta powers Mariners past Yanks

On a night where getting on base came pretty easy for both teams, only the Mariners could take advantage of it Friday.
Working off the strength of three RBIs from Chris Iannetta -- including a go-ahead home run in the fifth -- the Mariners snagged the opener of this weekend's three-game tilt versus the Yankees, 7-1. Right-hander Nathan Karns earned his first win for the Mariners, striking out seven in five innings. He walked four and allowed five hits in the outing. The only run Karns allowed was a home run to Brett Gardner in the first.
The Yankees' bats were anemic during scoring opportunities on the night, leaving 12 on base and notching an 0-for-12 mark with runners in scoring position. Right-hander Luis Severinodidn't have his best stuff, allowing four runs and eight hits while striking out only two over 5 2/3 innings.
Players and coaches from both teams -- and throughout Major League Baseball -- wore No. 42 on Friday to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day.
Road warrior: Iannetta delivered a two-run homer in the fifth off Severino on a well-struck line drive over the left-field fence, projected at 408 feet by Statcast™. Iannetta's second homer of the year gave Seattle a 3-1 lead and was Seattle's 15th long ball in the first 10 games. Iannetta added an RBI single in the eighth and went 3-for-3 with a walk, raising his on-base percentage in four road games to .909 (6-for-7 with three walks), compared to his .111 batting average and .200 OBP in five games at Safeco.
Stranding, not landing: The fourth inning couldn't have started much better for the Yankees. With the game tied at 1, Dustin Ackley led off with a walk. Starlin Castro singled, moving Ackley to third. A Karns wild pitch moved Castro to second. But Karns worked his way out of trouble, striking out Didi GregoriusChase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury in succession, with Headley and Ellsbury going down looking.

Braun's pair of two-run homers gives Crew win

 Ryan Braun delivered two key late-inning home runs to back up a quality start by Jimmy Nelson, leading the Brewers to an 8-4 win over the Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park.
With Milwaukee up by three runs in the sixth inning, Braun seemingly put the game out of reach by crushing a two-run shot off the batter's eye against Pirates lefty Kyle Lobstein. But the Bucs rallied for four runs in the seventh inning, pulling within a run and preparing to send in their top relievers.
Braun struck again in the eighth, though, crushing another two-run shot to center -- this one off Pirates setup man Neftali Feliz -- to give the Brewers a three-run lead.
Nelson, who improved to 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA on the year, kept the Bucs at bay, as he threw six scoreless innings. But the Pirates finally got to the 26-year-old right-hander in the seventh, when Matt Joyce homered to center. Nelson went 4-2 with a 2.48 ERA in six starts against Pittsburgh last year.
Brawny Braun: Braun gave the Brewers a 5-0 lead in the sixth inning with a two-run blast off the batter's eye in center field that traveled 437 feet, according to Statcast™. It was the second home run of the season for Braun, who added an eighth-inning blast to make Friday his 23rd career multi-homer game.
Walk this way: Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke tied a career high with seven walks, one of them intentional and four of them to each of the Brewers' first four leadoff hitters. Three of those free passes came back to hurt Locke, coming around to score after beginning the inning on base. The left-hander gave up a run in the second inning without the Brewers hitting a ball out of the infield -- leadoff walk, infield single, catcher's interference, run-scoring double play -- and another in the fourth on a walk, sacrifice bunt, wild pitch and a single byDomingo Santana.

Bettis sets tone as Rockies halt Cubs' surge

 Chad Bettis cooled off what had been a hot Cubs lineup, throwing six shutout innings in the Rockies' 6-1 victory on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Bettis struck out four and gave up three hits and three walks on the way to his second win this season. In his 12 outings since July 12, 2015, Bettis has seven quality starts, a 6-2 record and a 3.23 ERA. But afterward, Bettis challenged himself to be even better.
"First off, I would have liked to have been more efficient than I was -- three walks for me through six innings is not where I want to be right now," said Bettis, who threw 98 pitches. "That being said, I did feel very comfortable with my tempo and how my pitches were moving, and there were some great plays behind me."
Rockies catcher Tony Wolters, who also handled Bettis' seven-inning, two-run (one earned) victory over the Padres on Sunday, called Bettis "dominant" in all quadrants of the strike zone, and added that Bettis is already planning his next start.
Bettis outdueled Kyle Hendricks, who allowed four runs (two earned) in six innings. Hendricks threw 83 pitches -- 67 strikes, but the Cubs committed four errors in an uneven defensive performance that contributed to their rough day. Although the Cubs scored a run in the seventh, their four hits against Bettis and the Rockies' bullpen led to their lowest run total of the season.
"We've been playing some great baseball, and we'll still continue to do that," Cubs shortstopAddison Russell said. "Today we just didn't adjust to them playing small ball. If we do that, we'll have a good shot at winning."
The victory was the Rockies' fourth win in five games and snapped a five-game Cubs winning streak.
Not stopping, but getting his team going: The Rockies' two-run sixth inning against Hendricks opened with what has become a constant -- a Carlos Gonzalez hit. Gonzalez has a 20-game hit streak, dating back to last season. Gonzalez's forte is power, and he has eight career homers at Wrigley. But he recognized the wind conditions and controlled his swing. Both his singles went the opposite way to left.
"It was just good baseball," Gonzalez said. "We knew it was going to be a tough day with the wind blowing in." More >
Not-so-safe squeeze: The Cubs missed one of their best chances of the day in the bottom of the fifth, when Hendricks came to the plate with one out and runners on first and third. Hendricks squared to bunt on a safety squeeze, and Jorge Soler broke for the plate as Hendricks' bunt headed toward a charging Ben Paulsen. Paulsen fielded the ball and quickly tossed home, where Soler was tagged out. Dexter Fowler followed with a flyout to end the inning.
"We had talked about that," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I know they like to do that [with runners on] first and third. Benny executed it perfectly." More >
Arenado first to third: In his fourth season, third baseman Nolan Arenado knows all about the Rockies' hoary offensive history on the road. So with the wind blowing in and Hendricks a difficult task, baserunning became important. Arenado reached because of a tough error charged to Hendricks to open the second. Then the below-average-running Arenado -- knowing that Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler was not expecting aggression -- took third onRyan Raburn's single. It set up the Rockies' first run, on Ben Paulsen's single.
"I thought it was an opportunity," Arenado said. "We've been focusing on that, running the bases smart -- not so much aggressive, but running the bases smart."
Small ball, big errors: The Cubs entered this game with a league-best .994 fielding percentage and had gone five games without an error. In addition to Hendricks' mishap on a comebacker in the second, Kris Bryant had two errors, both on weakly hit balls. Bryant mishandled a Bettis chopper in the fifth, and in the seventh, Bryant fielded a Brandon Barnes bunt but threw wide of first base, allowing a run to score. Russell had multiple displays of slick glovework in the game, but he also made a throwing error in the eighth. That mistake, combined with Anthony Rizzo's boot on a fielder's choice later in the inning, allowed Gerardo Parra score.
"It was a weird game all around," Hendricks said. "The few errors, I even had a couple where it felt like my glove had a hole in it or something. Just a weird day."
"We played a little bit of small ball today and ran the bases very well … it was a great team win." -- Weiss
"The Bus was tough there, you're absolutely right. You talk about a ground game."
-- Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on Bettis, referencing former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis
After winning the previous two games over the Giants with 16 extra-base hits, including a club-record 12 Wednesday night, the Rockies won Friday with all 10 of their hits being singles.
Home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck left the game in the top of the eighth inning after he took a foul ball off the bat of Wolters to the area near his throat. The crew finished the game with three umpires, as third-base umpire Clint Fagan shifted behind the plate.
Rockies: Right-hander Christian Bergman (0-1, 12.00 ERA in two relief appearances) will make a spot start and become the fifth man to start for the Rockies this year when he faces the Cubs on Saturday at 12:20 p.m. MT.
Cubs: Jake Arrieta (2-0, 1.93 ERA) will make his third career start against the Rockies on Saturday at 1:20 p.m. CT. Arrieta is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA against Colorado, but in his lone start against them at Wrigley Field, he allowed one run and three hits over seven innings.

Ultimate MLB Show for April 15, 2016

Greinke, Shields set for duel on Jackie Robinson Day

Padres manager Andy Green will treat the upcoming three-game series with the D-backs, which begins Friday night at 7:40 p.m. at Petco Park, like any other, but for him and Arizona manager Chip Hale there will be something a little extra special about it.
Green spent the 2015 season as Hale's third-base coach before being hired by the Padres, and the men go back even further; Green played for Hale in the Minor Leagues.
Friday is Jackie Robinson Day. Every player in the Major Leagues will wear a No. 42 jersey on Friday in celebration of the 69th anniversary of the Dodgers' Hall of Famer breaking baseball's color barrier.
"In one sense, it's another series," Green said. "But obviously I have a lot of relationships on the other side -- guys I've coached and staff that I've worked with. We have to find a way to solve the puzzle of their starting pitching."
Hale texted Green after the Padres were swept in their opening series against the Dodgers to remind him to keep his head up and wants to see his protégé do well. Except, of course, against the D-backs.
"It'll be fun," Hale said of seeing Green. "It's a long road trip so it's nice to have a little break in the middle and see him. Hopefully his family is doing well."
Things to know about this game
• Zack Greinke will be making his third start for the D-backs. In 12 career starts against the Padres he is 6-1 with a 1.56 ERA.
• James Shields is making his third start of the season. Last year he was 2-2 with a 4.97 ERA in four games against Arizona.
• The Padres are still looking for their first run of the year at Petco Park after being outscored 25-0 in the season-opening series there against the Dodgers. They have been shut out five times in their first 10 games.

Jackie at forefront as Dodgers, Giants renew rivalry

Rival aces Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner will face off for the ninth time in a National League West showdown Friday, which is Jackie Robinson Day. The game will kick off a three-game series in Los Angeles.
Every player in the Major Leagues will wear a No. 42 jersey on Friday in celebration of the 69th anniversary of the Dodgers' Hall of Famer breaking baseball's color barrier.
Kershaw and Bumgarner squared off less than a week ago at AT&T Park, where both shined, but neither received a decision. While Bumgarner was likely happy to knock out his second career home run against his counterpart, Kershaw got the last laugh as the Dodgers notched an extra-innings 3-2 win on the Giants' home turf, their sole win of the weekend's four-game series.
Now, they meet at Dodger Stadium, where Bumgarner owns a 2.12 ERA in 13 games, his third best mark in National League stadiums. Kershaw has an even better mark on his home field, with a 2.07 ERA.
Things to know about this game
• Giants catcher Buster Posey has stepped into the batter's box against Kershaw more times than any player in the Major Leagues, but he has struggled with a .228/.256/.329 line in 75 plate appearances. That's his worst OPS against any pitcher with a minimum of 25 plate appearances.
• The Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez has fared even worse against Bumgarner. The first baseman's .151/.191/.200 in 47 plate appearances adds up to his worst OPS against any of the 49 pitchers he's faced 25 times or more in his career.
• Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is expected to return to the lineup after sustaining a left hand injury in Wednesday's win over the D-backs. X-rays came back negative and manager Dave Roberts indicated Turner's only problems were soreness and swelling

Volquez meets Hill on Jackie Robinson Day

Right-hander Edinson Volquez will be on the mound when the Royals open a three-game series in Oakland on Friday, with lefty Rich Hill pitching for the A's in the 10:05 p.m. ET matchup at the Oakland Coliseum as MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day.
Volquez has limited opponents to just two earned runs across 11 2/3 innings in his first two starts for a 1.54 ERA, most recently fanning 10 in 5 2/3 innings while settling for a no-decision against the Twins on Sunday.
Hill also struck out 10 in his last outing, an encouraging six-inning start in Seattle that saw the lefty limit the Mariners to one run on five hits and a walk. It was a big bounce-back performance for the southpaw, who lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his season debut.
The defending World Series champion Royals took the season series from the A's last year with ease, 5-1.
Things to know
• Volquez is 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA in four career starts against the A's, including 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two outings at the Coliseum. Hill, meanwhile, is 2-0 with a 5.91 ERA in 11 career appearances -- only two of them starts -- against Kansas City.
• The Royals and manager Ned Yost continue to look for ways to reduce catcher Salvador Perez's workload, but it's tough in Yost's mind.
"He wants to play every day," Yost said. "It's just tough for me, too. I have to be reminded to rest him."
The Royals have a day game after Friday night's game, and Perez likely will not start on Saturday, Yost said.
• There's an outside chance that outfielder Jarrod Dyson (oblique strain), who is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha, could be back this weekend against the A's. 
"We'll play it day by day," Yost said. "I haven't really talked to [general manager] Dayton [Moore] about it yet. But he's coming along."