Major League Baseball
MLB News Wire
  • Rays need to get their offense going
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- As good as the Tampa Bay Rays' pitching was in the first month of the season, their hitters will have to step up in May if they want to improve on an 11-12 April record.

    • The offense will need to be far better that it was in Sunday's 5-1 loss to Toronto.

      The Rays have lost three of four games and have scored exactly one run in each of those losses. On Sunday, it was a solo home run from Evan Longoria, but zero hits with runners in scoring position, effectively shut down by Jays ace Marcus Stroman.

      "It's all about timely hitting -- I just haven't been doing a good job of that," Longoria said. "We've got to get better as a team with that."

      The Rays hit the long ball well against Toronto -- eight of their 15 hits in the three-game series were home runs -- but that marked the first time in baseball history that a team has had 15 or fewer hits in a series while hitting eight or more home runs.

      Depending on pitching too much will get them into trouble. The same bullpen that threw 9 2/3 scoreless innings in the previous series against Baltimore gave up nine runs in eight innings against Toronto, leading to two losses.

  • MLB roundup: Sale improves to 6-0 as White Sox rout O's
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    BALTIMORE -- Chris Sale improved to 6-0, Brett Lawrie homered for the third straight game and the Chicago White Sox routed the Baltimore Orioles 7-1 on Sunday.

    • After dropping the opening two games, Chicago earned a split in the four-game series. Baltimore lost two in a row at Camden Yards for the first time this year.

      The White Sox have played 19 straight games and are finally off Monday before hosting a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox.

      Sale (6-0) became the first White Sox pitcher to win his first six starts since Jon Garland won eight in a row in 2005. Sale allowed one run on five hits with six strikeouts and four walks over 5 1/3 innings. He also threw a season-high 112 pitches in his shortest outing of the season.

      Nationals 6, Cardinals 1

      ST. LOUIS -- Washington broke open a pitcher's duel in the sixth inning and played add-on from there for its first-ever road sweep of St. Louis since moving from Montreal following the 2004 season.

      St. Louis native Max Scherzer fired seven shutout innings while Clint Robinson and Danny Espinosa hit back-to-back homers in the seventh for the Nationals.

      Scherzer (3-1) never allowed a runner into scoring position, yielding only four hits and walking none while fanning nine as he garnered his first win in three career starts in St. Louis.

      Carlos Martinez (4-1) matched Scherzer pitch-for-pitch until Matt den Dekker delivered a first-pitch RBI single with one out in the sixth, scoring Jose Lobaton to break a scoreless tie.

      Giants 6, Mets 1

      NEW YORK -- Hunter Pence homered and finished with three RBIs and San Francisco stole four bases to beat New York.

      Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (3-2) continued his mastery of the Mets by throwing six shutout innings as the Giants avoided being swept in the three-game series. Bumgarner is 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA in five career starts against the Mets and has thrown 18 straight scoreless innings at Citi Field, the longest streak by an opposing pitcher since the park opened in 2009.

      David Wright had an RBI single in the seventh for the Mets, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped. New York has won 13 of its last 16 games.

      Blue Jays 5, Rays 1

      ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay missed a chance for an inning-ending double play in the ninth and Troy Tulowitzki followed with a three-run homer as Toronto and Marcus Stroman pulled out a win.

      Stroman (4-0), who went eight innings in an Opening Day win at the Rays, did the same Sunday, holding the Rays to three hits and one run while striking out nine.

      The Blue Jays got a break with one out in the ninth, tied 1-1, when Edwin Encarnacion's bases-loaded ground ball was hit deep into the shift, with no one to cover second, so rather than a double play to end the inning, there was an out at first and the go-ahead run scored.

      Tulowitzki followed with a home run off closer Alex Colome, who came in with a 1.08 ERA. The Tampa Bay bullpen had opened the inning by allowing a double and two walks to load the bases, a rare breakdown from what had been a stellar part of the Rays' first month.

  • Blue Jays continue to get strong starting pitching
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Marcus Stroman turned 25 on Sunday, and he celebrated the occasion with one of his best outings -- eight innings, a career-high nine strikeouts and only one run in the Blue Jays' 5-1 win over the Rays.

    • "It was awesome, more importantly, to get the win and get things going and get a series win," said Stroman, who improved to 4-0. "I felt like we had really good energy, especially late in the game."

      Stroman was a stopper after the Rays had a walkoff win the night before, threatening to take the three-game series with another win Sunday. Stroman finished the eighth inning with 103 pitches and the game tied, and his teammates gave him the gift of four runs, allowing him to watch Roberto Osuna close out the final three outs.

      "They have been unbelievable," manager John Gibbons said of his starting rotation. "Every day they go out there, they give us a chance and that is really all you ask. Waiting for the offense to get going to make it a little easier for those guys, hopefully. Maybe today's win will spark us a little bit."

      The Jays' strong offense from last season has yet to take shape this season. The team is 0-11 this season when they allow four or more runs, putting pressure on the pitching staff. When the offense clicks, the team is much like last year's Jays. The Jays are 11-4 when they can score four or more runs, but 1-10 when they don't.

  • Stroman, Tulowitzky help Blue Jays beat Rays
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Marcus Stroman pitched eight strong innings for the Toronto Blue Jays, but Sunday's win didn't come until a fortunate break in the ninth inning, when the Tampa Bay Rays missed a chance for an inning-ending double play before Troy Tulowitzki hit a three-run home run in the Blue Jays' 5-1 victory at Tropicana Field.

    • Tulowitzki came into the game hitting .169 and was in an 0-for-16 slump when he tagged reliever Alex Colome for his fifth home run of the year.

      With the bases loaded and one out, the Rays shifted their defense against Edwin Encarnacion, who hit a hard grounder deep to short. No one was in position to cover second, so instead of getting out of the inning with a double play and the game tied, only one out was recorded, a run scored and the inning was kept alive.

      "In a straight-up infield, we wouldn't have fielded the ball -- it would have been a base hit," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. "We were in correct position and he just hit it in the perfect spot. ... It's just an unfortunate situation and we have to look past that and move on."

      Tulowitzki followed with a home run off closer Alex Colome, who came in with a 1.08 ERA. The Tampa Bay bullpen had opened the inning by allowing a double to pinch-hitter Darwin Barney and two walks to load the bases, a rare breakdown from what had been a stellar part of the Rays' first month.

      Tulowitzki got his fifth home run of the season and had three RBIs after totaling 10 in the Jays' first 25 games.

      Stroman (4-0), who went eight innings in an Opening Day win at the Rays, did the same Sunday, holding Tampa Bay to three hits and one run while striking out nine on his 25th birthday.

      "He's a special kid," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It wasn't a must-win game, but the way they won last night (on a Rays walkoff) and how things have been going lately, it was a big, big win for us."

      Rays starter Jake Odorizzi threw seven innings and held Toronto to one run on two hits. The Rays have lost three of four games, scoring exactly one run in each of the losses. Xavier Cedeno (2-1), who gave up the double and walk to start the ninth, took the loss.

      "Their pitching staff held us in check all three games, really," Gibbons said of the dependence on home runs this weekend. "It doesn't matter how you do it as long as you win."

      Odorizzi hadn't allowed a hit until one out in the fourth inning, when Josh Donaldson ripped a shot to left field for his ninth home run of the season and a 1-0 Toronto lead.

      Stroman gave up a single to Logan Forsythe to lead off the game, but stayed out of trouble. He needed only five pitches for a 1-2-3 second and allowed only a third-inning single to Hank Conger through five innings after that.

      Conger, who had not thrown out a baserunner in the last 49 steal attempts against him, got Toronto's Ezequiel Carrera trying to steal second to end the fifth inning.

      The Rays tied the game in the sixth inning with a solo home run of their own, as Longoria sent a shot to left-center field to tie the game at 1-1. Longoria now has five home runs, tying him with Steven Souza and Corey Dickerson for the team lead.

      Odorizzi lasted seven innings, striking out Tulowitzki on his 106th pitch with a runner at second to end the seventh. He held the Jays to one run on two hits, striking out six and walking two in what would end up a no-decision.

      "I'm usually good for that once a year maybe," Odorizzi said of his emotional fist-pumping coming off the mound. "I'm pretty mellow besides that. It was a big spot in the game, 1-1 ... to keep the team right there, I was excited."

      NOTES: Counting Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Rays, Toronto is now 0-11 this season when allowing four runs or more. The Jays are 11-3 when allowing three or fewer runs. ... The Rays had back-to-back starts where the only hits allowed by their starting pitchers were home runs -- two by LHP Drew Smyly on Friday and just one by RHP Chris Archer on Saturday. That had happened only 11 times in the Rays' history. ... The Rays open interleague play on Tuesday with a two-game set against the Dodgers -- they went 14-6 in interleague play last season, their third-best mark ever. ... Toronto also gets the Dodgers next weekend with a three-game series after getting the Rangers for four games in Toronto.

  • Braves' call-up of Bonifacio delayed by technicality
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    The Atlanta Braves played with 24 players on Sunday after the club made a roster transaction snafu.

    • Atlanta announced Sunday that it had selected the contract of infielder Emilio Bonifacio from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned right-handed reliever Chris Withrow to the same club.

      Major League Baseball studied the move and informed the Braves that Bonifacio is ineligible to join the Braves until Saturday, leaving Atlanta a player short for Sunday's game against the Chicago Cubs.

      Bonifacio was designated for assignment by the Braves on April 2 and then released on April 6. He signed a minor league deal with the organization on April 10.

      Major league rules call for a 30-day window from the date of release before a player can rejoin the same team.

      "It's sort of a convoluted rule from MLB," Braves assistant general manager Billy Ryan told reporters. "Because we signed (Bonifacio) to a major league contract and then he was released at the end of spring training and he subsequently signed with us and not another club, we can't select him to the big leagues until 30 days after his release date."

      Bonifacio was caught in the middle of the situation. He had yet to unpack his belongings on Sunday when he was told he was heading right back to Gwinnett.

      "It is unfortunate," Ryan said. "We just spoke to Boni and explained it to him. We feel bad for him and having to explain it to him. We'll just have to move on from there."

      Atlanta has been using 13 pitchers on the 25-man roster over the past two weeks and was looking to add speed and versatility by promoting the switch-hitting Bonifacio.

      The transaction error left Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez shorthanded for Sunday's game in two areas -- his bench and the bullpen.

      "I have no idea what transpired here," Gonzalez told reporters. "So I can't comment."

      Meanwhile, Withrow had departed Chicago before the mistake was learned. And there was no time to summon another player to town.

      The Braves plan to add a player prior to Monday's series opener against the New York Mets.

  • Indians place C Perez on DL
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    The Cleveland Indians placed catcher Roberto Perez on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a right thumb injury.

    • Perez, 27, was injured during Saturday night's game at Philadelphia after making a diving tag at home plate to end the fifth inning. Perez has made four starts at catcher for Cleveland, going 0-for-8 with one RBI and six walks.

      The Indians also called up catcher Adam Moore from Triple-A Columbus.

      Moore, who will turn 32 on May 8, has appeared in 16 games for Columbus, going 7-for-45 (.156) with two home runs and five RBIs. He is in his second season with the Cleveland organization after re-signing as a minor league free agent on Nov. 19, 2015.

  • MLB notebook: A-Rod gives home run bat to young fan
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, not the most popular player at Fenway Park, gave his bat to a young fan after hitting a home run.

    • The 8-year-old fan, David Moss, is an Arizona native who attended Friday night's game with his mother and sister and was welcomed at Fenway by the Red Sox, including David Ortiz.

      According to MLB.com, the young fan's father, Andy Moss, died in September before he and his son could meet Ortiz in person. Ortiz recounted the Moss family's story to Rodriguez and the Yankees designated hitter greeted David Moss before his first at-bat of the game in the top of the second inning.

      "I asked (Rodriguez) if I could have his bat," Moss told MLB.com. "He said, 'If I hit a home run, you can have my bat.' "

      After blasting his fourth homer of the season -- and the 28th of his career at Fenway Park -- on Friday night, the 40-year-old Rodriguez sought out the young Red Sox fan behind home plate to honor his promise.

      A-Rod hit the solo blast off Red Sox left-hander Henry Owens for his 691st career home run. After touching home plate, Rodriguez gestured to the Yankees' bat boy to give him the bat before heading over to the Moss family's seats behind home plate and leaning the bat up against the padded wall.

      --The St. Louis Cardinals are looking into allegations made in a civil lawsuit against right-handed starting pitcher Carlos Martinez.

      Martinez, 24, was excused from the team on Friday so he could travel to South Florida and deal with the suit filed against him, according to ESPN.

      "We are just learning of this matter. I was notified by Carlos' agent the other night," general manager John Mozeliak said Saturday. "We will not be in a position to act until we have more information."

      A woman filed the suit in district court in Miami, stating she began her relationship with Martinez in 2012 and rekindled it recently, according to TMZ Sports.

      Martinez is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings this season. He was at the stadium Saturday and the lawsuit is not expected to affect his scheduled start on Sunday, according to a ESPN.

      --Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann will play two more games with Triple-A Toledo and will rejoin the club Tuesday in Cleveland.

      McCann has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 12 because of a sprained right ankle.

      --Minnesota Twins right-hander Ervin Santana played catch on Saturday and will again on Sunday before throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday in Houston.

      Santana, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of back spasms, is eligible to return on May 3.

      --Oakland A's right-hander Chris Bassitt has a partial UCL tear in his right elbow, which was revealed by a MRI exam performed Friday.

      The diagnosis could lead to season-ending surgery. Bassitt is going to Cincinnati for a second opinion.

      --Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez will miss a couple of days because of a sore left ribcage.

      Gomez sustained the injury diving for a ball Friday night. He left Wednesday's game in Seattle early when he was hit by a pitch on his right hand.

      --St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo will need knee replacement surgery next month, meaning he won't be able to join the coaching staff this season.

      Oquendo has been part of the team's coaching staff since 1999.

      --With the San Francisco Giants needing a fresh bullpen arm following Friday's 13-1 loss, the team purchased the contract of right-hander Vin Mazzaro from Triple-A Sacramento and optioned right-hander Mike Broadway to the same affiliate.

      Broadway threw three innings Friday night. To make room for Mazzaro on the 40-man roster, right-hander Ian Gardeck was designated for assignment.

      --Giants second baseman Joe Panik (groin) did not start in Saturday's game and will likely sit in Sunday's series finale as well.

      Panik tweaked his groin running out of the batter's box in the ninth inning Friday.

  • MLB roundup: Red Sox batter Yankees behind Porcello
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    BOSTON -- Rick Porcello tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out six, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in three runs apiece and the Boston Red Sox routed the New York Yankees 8-0 on Saturday night at Fenway Park.

    • Porcello allowed five hits and a walk en route to his fifth straight win to open the season as Boston has a chance to sweep a three-game series with its bitter rival in Sunday night's nationally-televised finale.

      The Red Sox won Friday's opener 4-2 thanks to a late two-run homer from David Ortiz, who sent another ball into the stands Saturday with a solo shot.

      Bradley had three hits and a pair of run-scoring triples, his team-leading third and fourth of the season, to give him nine RBIs in his last seven games.

      Mariners 6, Royals 0

      SEATTLE -- Wade Miley helped extend Kansas City's scoreless streak to 26 innings while throwing his first career shutout.

      Miley, who went into the game with a 7.04 ERA, tossed the first complete-game shutout of his six-year career, allowing five hits.

      Kansas City hasn't scored a run since the first inning of Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Angels.

      Padres 5, Dodgers 2

      LOS ANGELES -- Melvin Upton Jr. hit a two-run double in the top of the fifth inning to lead a three-run rally that gave San Diego a victory over Los Angeles.

      Colin Rea and three relievers combined to hold the Dodgers hitless in the final 5 1/3 innings while retiring 16 of the final 18 batters.

      Closer Fernando Rodney registered his fourth save of the season.

      Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 2

      PHOENIX -- Trevor Story hit a two-run triple with one out in the top of the ninth to lift Colorado past Arizona.

      Story was 2-for-5 with an RBI double in addition to the triple. Gerardo Parra added an RBI single for the Rockies, who have won four of five meetings against the Diamondbacks.

      Chad Qualls, the Rockies' fourth pitcher, threw a perfect eighth for the win. Jake McGee gave up two hits in the ninth but held on for his fifth save in six chances.

      Rangers 7, Angels 2

      ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mitch Moreland's three-run homer highlighted a six-run third inning for Texas and starter Derek Holland made sure the outburst was enough by throwing six scoreless innings.

      He allowed four hits and did not issue a walk.

      Leadoff hitter Rougned Odor led the Rangers with three doubles. The Angels did not score until the ninth inning when Albert Pujols homered.

      Marlins 7, Brewers 5

      MILWAUKEE -- Wei-Yin Chen worked into the seventh inning while Miami hit three home runs and extended its winning streak to seven games.

      Derek Dietrch, making his second straight start in place of Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna all went deep for Miami, which combined for 14 hits off Brewers pitching, but left the bases loaded in four separate innings and stranded 14 runners.

      Chen allowed a leadoff double to Domingo Sananta, then retired 17 of 20 batters as he cruised into the seventh with a comfortable lead.

      Phillies 4, Indians 3

      PHILADELPHIA -- Freddy Galvis drove in the go-ahead run with a seventh-inning single as Philadelphia won its fifth straight.

      Galvis also hit a two-run homer in the first inning for Philadelphia, which won for the eighth time in nine games.

      Andrew Bailey, the second of five Phillies pitchers, earned the victory by working a scoreless inning in relief.

      White Sox 8, Orioles 7

      BALTIMORE -- Jose Abreu lined a tie-breaking single with two outs in the top of the ninth to give Chicago the win.

      Zach Britton struck out the first two batters before Adam Eaton reached on an infield single. The Baltimore closer appeared to suffer a leg injury fielding the ball on the plate and left the game.

      Vance Worley came on and walked Carlos Sanchez before Abreu singled to right, scoring Eaton with the winning run.

      Athletics 2, Astros 0

      OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jesse Hahn pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings in his first start with the Athletics and Billy Burns provided just enough offense to help Oakland beat Houston.

      Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien each walked and had a hit for the A's, who won their fourth straight at home after opening the season 1-7 in the Coliseum.

      Hahn, who opened the season at Triple-A Nashville following a tough spring, showed he belonged as he allowed one baserunner to venture past first base. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out four as the A's end the month over .500.

      Rays 4, Blue Jays 3

      ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe hit home runs, and Curt Casali came up big for Tampa Bay.

      With the game tied 3-3, pinch-hitter Brad Miller opened up the bottom of the ninth inning with a single, and Kevin Kiermaier's line-drive double bounced off the right-field wall to put Miller on third with the game-winning run and no one out.

      Casali then singled just over shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's glove to bring home the game-winner. It was Casali's first career walk-off hit, and the Rays' first since Oct. 3, 2015, also a 4-3 win against Toronto.

      Mets 6, Giants 5

      NEW YORK -- Michael Conforto finished a triple shy of the cycle for the second time this week as New York won its eighth straight.

      Conforto finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He singled and scored the Mets' second run in the first inning, delivered a two-run double in the second and hit a solo homer in the fifth. He grounded out to first in his final at-bat in the seventh.

      The 23-year-old left fielder went 3-for-3 with a solo homer Monday in the Mets' 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He has a nine-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 17 straight games. In addition, he has doubled in each of the last six games, which ties the team record set by Joe Christopher in 1964.

      Pirates 5, Reds 1

      PITTSBURGH -- Francisco Liriano won for the first time since Opening Day and John Jaso led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run as Pittsburgh sent Cincinnati to its sixth loss in a row.

      Liriano allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings for his first win since April 3 when he pitched six scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.

      The left-hander also held the Reds to five hits and struck out six while not walking a batter after allowing 17 bases on balls in his first four starts.

      Tigers 4, Twins 1

      MINNEAPOLIS -- Jordan Zimmermann continued his red-hot start to the season, pitching seven innings of one-run ball to lead Detroit.

      A solo home run by Minnesota's Byung Ho Park was the only damage done against Zimmermann, who actually saw his ERA go up to 0.55.

      Zimmermann joined Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs as the only five-game winners in the majors.

      Nationals 6, Cardinals 1

      ST. LOUIS -- Scoring four runs in the top of the first, Washington rolled to a 6-1 win over St. Louis.

      Joe Ross worked six solid innings for the victory, scattering six hits and allowing a run while walking two and fanning four.

      Three relievers finished up as the Nationals scored a rare series win in St. Louis, where it is 9-26 since moving from Montreal before the 2005 season.

      Braves-Cubs, ppd. rain

      CHICAGO -- This week's second rainout has cost the Chicago Cubs a shot at their best-ever April finish.

      The Cubs bring a 17-5 record into that game, the best 22-game start in 109 years and tied for the best ever in an opening month. The Braves, meanwhile, are 5-18 and have baseball's worst record.

  • A-Rod gives home run bat to young fan at Fenway Park
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, not the most popular player at Fenway Park, gave his bat to a young fan after hitting a home run.

    • The 8-year-old fan, David Moss, is an Arizona native who attended Friday night's game with his mother and sister and was welcomed at Fenway by the Red Sox, including David Ortiz.

      According to MLB.com, the young fan's father, Andy Moss, died in September before he and his son could meet Ortiz in person. Ortiz recounted the Moss family's story to Rodriguez and the Yankees designated hitter greeted David Moss before his first at-bat of the game in the top of the second inning.

      "I asked (Rodriguez) if I could have his bat," Moss told MLB.com. "He said, 'If I hit a home run, you can have my bat.' "

      After blasting his fourth homer of the season -- and the 28th of his career at Fenway Park -- on Friday night, the 40-year-old Rodriguez sought out the young Red Sox fan behind home plate to honor his promise.

      A-Rod hit the solo blast off Red Sox left-hander Henry Owens for his 691st career home run. After touching home plate, Rodriguez gestured to the Yankees' bat boy to give him the bat before heading over to the Moss family's seats behind home plate and leaning the bat up against the padded wall.

      According to MLB.com, a fan sitting near the Moss family had heard about his family's story and gave them tickets above the Red Sox dugout so that David could get an autograph from Ortiz.

      And to top off the night, the Red Sox beat their longtime rivals 4-2 thanks to Ortiz's go-ahead two-run homer over the Green Monster in the eighth inning.

  • Cardinals looking into allegations against RHP Martinez
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    The St. Louis Cardinals are looking into allegations made in a civil lawsuit against right-handed starting pitcher Carlos Martinez.

    • Martinez, 24, was excused from the team on Friday so he could travel to South Florida and deal with the suit filed against him, according to ESPN.

      The allegations could trigger an investigation under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy.

      "We are just learning of this matter. I was notified by Carlos' agent the other night," general manager John Mozeliak said Saturday. "We will not be in a position to act until we have more information."

      A woman filed the suit in district court in Miami, stating she began her relationship with Martinez in 2012 and rekindled it recently, according to TMZ Sports.

      Martinez is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings this season. He was at the stadium Saturday and the lawsuit is not expected to affect his scheduled start on Sunday, according to a ESPN.

  • Another rainout costs Cubs shot at record
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    CHICAGO -- This week's second rainout has cost the Chicago Cubs a shot at their best-ever April finish.

    • Saturday's scheduled middle game between the Cubs and Atlanta Braves was called four hours before the scheduled 1:20 p.m. CT first pitch. No makeup date was announced.

      The teams will meet in the finale of an abbreviated two-game series as the season's second month opens on Sunday.

      The Cubs bring a 17-5 record into that game, the best 22-game start in 109 years and tied for the best ever in an opening month. The Braves, meanwhile, are 5-18 and have baseball's worst record.

      Chicago has won six of seven series so far this season, including their first four series on the road.

      Even with the sizzling start and Major League Baseball's best record, the Cubs are wary of looking too far ahead.

      "I think there's a lot of teams that have the ingredients to win it all, we've got a long ways to go," said left-hander Jon Lester, who had his fifth straight quality start but no decision in Friday's 6-1 win over Atlanta.

      "(Cubs manager Joe Maddon) preaches good starts and we got off to a good start, so we're just going to keep grinding every day," Lester added. "If we start worrying about where we're at now and the standings and playoffs and a chance to win it all, that's nice to dream about but we still have five more months."

      Wednesday's game against Milwaukee also was rained out and scheduled starting pitchers moved up one day.

      If that practice holds, the Cubs would sent right-hander John Lackey (3-1, 4.97 ERA) against Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (0-3, 4.60).

      Lackey is 1-1 with a 2.76 ERA in three career starts against the Braves. He needs eight strikeouts to become the fifth active pitcher with at least 2,000.

      Teheran is 10-7 all-time against the Cubs and last faced Chicago in a no-decision outing on July 17, 2015. He last beat the Cubs on July 13, 2014.

      Atlanta returns to Chicago in early July for a three-game interleague series against the White Sox between July 8-10. Both the Braves and Cubs have open dates on July 7, making that a potential makeup date.

      NOTES: Following Sunday's series finale, the Braves and Cubs meet again in a scheduled three-game set in Atlanta between June 10-12. ... The Cubs have won seven straight against the Braves. Atlanta took the opener of the 2015 season series before the Cubs started a streak that included a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field from Aug. 20-23, 2015. ... The Braves' 18 losses were the most in April since 1900. The last Braves team to lose 18 games by the 23rd game of the season came when the 1914 club started 4-18-1 in 1914. ... Atlanta OF Nick Markakis has a MLB-tying 11 doubles so far, tied with Jose Altuve and David Ortiz. ... In their last 85 games since July 29, 2015, the Cubs have posted a 62-23 record, good for a .729 winning percentage and a 118-44 mark if projected through a full season. ... Cubs pitchers have recorded 17 quality starts, tied for the major league lead with the White Sox and Rangers.

  • MLB roundup: Mets ride 12-run third inning to victory
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes provided the exclamation point on a 12-run third inning -- the biggest in New York Mets history -- by hitting a line drive grand slam into the left field seats Friday as the Mets went on to rout the San Francisco Giants 13-1 at Citi Field.

    • The third-inning outburst broke the previous record set July 16, 2006, when the Mets scored 11 runs in the sixth inning of a 13-7 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

      Cespedes had a two-run single earlier in the inning, during which the Mets sent 15 batters to the plate. His six RBIs also broke a team record for a single inning, held previously by Butch Huskey, who had five RBIs in an inning on May 26, 1998.

      Michael Conforto had an RBI double in the third while Neil Walker (RBI double), Asdrubal Cabrera (two-run double) and Curtis Granderson (RBI single) also had run-scoring hits in the inning for the Mets, who have won seven straight and 12 of their last 14.

      The 12 runs allowed by the Giants in the third were the most the franchise has surrendered in an inning since the Montreal Expos collected 13 runs in the sixth inning of a 19-3 victory May 7, 1997.

      Red Sox 4, Yankees 2

      BOSTON -- David Ortiz smashed a two-run homer with one out in the eighth inning to break a tie and lead Boston past New York.

      Ortiz's homer was his fourth of the season and landed in the first row beyond the Green Monster in left field. The decisive hit came off of Yankees' reliever Dellin Betances (0-2), and Ortiz had gone 0-for-7 against Betances with four strikeouts before Friday's late-game heroics.

      Jackie Bradley Jr. also had a pair of RBIs for the Red Sox, who have won five of their last six games.

      Koji Uehara (1-1) struck out one in a scoreless eighth inning and Craig Kimbrel shut the door in the ninth for his seventh save of the year.

      Alex Rodriguez hit a solo home run for New York.

      Phillies 4, Indians 3 (11)

      PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a home run to lift Philadelphia past Cleveland.

      Howard's homer -- his fifth of the season -- came on a 3-2 fastball from reliever Cody Allen (0-3) and propelled Philadelphia to its seventh victory in eight games. It was Howard's sixth career walkoff homer.

      It was also the Phillies' third walkoff victory this season, all coming in the last two weeks.

      Jason Kipnis hit a two-run homer for Cleveland, which lost for the third time in four games.

      David Hernandez (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the victory, striking out four. In all five Philadelphia pitchers combined to strike out 18, equaling the team record.

      Marlins 6, Brewers 3

      MILWAUKEE -- Justin Bour hit two home runs and Adam Conley no-hit Milwaukee through 7 2/3 innings before Miami held on for the victory.

      Neither player got to finish the contest, though, as Conley had thrown 116 pitches when he gave way to Jose Urena in the eighth. Bour, who finished with three hits and five RBIs, also left as part of a double-switch.

      Bour's three-run homer in the first inning got things started for Florida, which added a run in the third on Bour's RBI double.

      Nationals 5, Cardinals 4

      ST. LOUIS -- Stephen Strasburg improved to 4-0 after striking out nine in seven innings as Washington defeated St. Louis.

      Strasburg gave up only four hits after the first inning and recorded seven outs in a row via strikeout from the fourth through the sixth as the Nationals upped their mark in St. Louis to 8-26 since moving from Montreal following the 2004 season.

      Mike Leake (0-3) was touched for five runs off five hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out two. Leake, who signed a five-year free agent deal for $80 million in December, permitted at least four runs in all five of his starts this year.

      Blue Jays 6, Rays 1

      ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Michael Saunders hit two home runs and Aaron Sanchez pitched seven scoreless innings to lead Toronto over Tampa Bay.

      Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and second baseman Ryan Goins hit solo home runs while first baseman Justin Smoak had a two-run single.

      Rays shortstop Brad Miller had a home run and starter Drew Smyly struck out eight over six innings to tie the team record for strikeouts in April of 33 previously set by David Price in 2014.

      Cubs 6, Braves 1

      CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo's bases-loaded single drove in Dexter Fowler with a go-ahead run and Matt Szczur added a grand slam as Chicago scored five eighth-inning runs en route to victory over Atlanta.

      Szczur's grand slam -- the first of his career -- came off Braves reliever Chris Withrow and drove in Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and Rizzo as the Cubs (17-5) collected their fourth straight victory and sixth in seven games.

      The Braves (5-18) lost for the ninth time in 10 games.

      Tigers 9, Twins 2

      MINNEAPOLIS -- Detroit pounded out 18 hits and got five solid innings from Michael Fulmer in his major league debut in a victory over Minnesota.

      Fulmer, one of the Tigers' top prospects, allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four.

      Every hitter in Detroit's lineup had at least one hit. Victor Martinez led the way with four hits, finishing a triple short of the cycle. Nick Castellanos and Justin Upton each had three hits and Castellanos knocked in three runs.

      The Tigers won their third consecutive game and have won four of their last five since a four-game losing streak.

      Orioles 6, White Sox 3

      BALTIMORE -- Nolan Reimold hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the seventh inning and Jonathan Schoop had a two-run single to help Baltimore defeat Chicago.

      Manny Machado added two hits for the Orioles, who have won three straight.

      Zach Britton pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save on a night when the game-time temperature was 51 degrees.

      Chicago's Brett Lawrie had tied the game with a solo homer off reliever Brad Brach (3-0) leading off the seventh.

      Rangers 4, Angels 2

      ARLINGTON, Texas -- Prince Fielder recorded his 1,000th RBI and Colby Lewis turned in a rare solid performance against Los Angeles to lead Texas to victory.

      Lewis, who allowed two runs in seven innings, normally gets knocked around by the Angels in Arlington. In five starts the past two seasons, he was 0-4 with a 12.73 ERA.

      Fielder and his father, Cecil, joined Barry and Bobby Bonds as the only major league father-son combos with 1,000 RBIs apiece.

      Pirates 4, Reds 1

      PITTSBURGH -- Juan Nicasio struck out eight in seven scoreless innings, Josh Harrison hit his first home run in nearly a year and Matt Joyce connected as a pinch-hitter to lead Pittsburgh to its fifth straight victory.

      Nicasio (3-2) allowed three hits and one walk in sending the Reds to their fifth straight loss. Nicasio, signed as a free agent in the offseason, has won all three home starts with a 1.89 ERA.

      Joey Votto had two hits for the Reds, who have gone 4-13 since taking two of three against the Pirates during the first week of the season April 8-10 in Cincinnati.

      Rockies 9, Diamondbacks 0

      PHOENIX -- Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado hit their 10th homers of the season and Ryan Raburn and Nick Hundley added bases-empty homers in Colorado's victory over Arizona at Chase Field.

      Story tied Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu's major league record for homers by a rookie in April and also matched George Scott as the fastest to 10 homers in a major league season. Both had 10 in 21 games. Story has five homers in four games in Arizona.

      Mariners 1, Royals 0

      SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez and Seattle extended Kansas City's losing streak to four games.

      Hernandez threw 7 2/3 shutout innings and got all the offense he needed on a Seth Smith solo home run to lead off the sixth. The Mariners had just one hit on the night.

      Padres 5, Dodgers 1

      LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp hit a three-run homer in the top of the eighth inning to lead San Diego over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.

      Kemp added a double and scored a run to finish 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and threw out a runner trying to extend a single into a double, as the Padres broke a five-game losing streak.

      Wil Myers' 12-game hitting streak, matching a career best, ended.

      Athletics 7, Astros 4

      OAKLAND, Calif. -- Yonder Alfonso hit the winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off Pat Neshek to lift Oakland past Houston.

      The A's tied the score in the eighth. Marcus Semien homered off Ken Giles and Jed Lowrie followed with a sacrifice fly after Billy Burns singled, stole second and went to third on Erik Kratz's throwing error.

      Evan Gattis homered and drove in two runs and Mike Fiers pitched seven strong innings, but the Astros could not hold on and were denied their first back-to-back victories of the season. Tyler White and Marwin Gonzalez also drove in runs.

  • MLB notebook: Gordon's suspension disappoints Marlins
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    Immediately following Thursday's victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was announced that Miami Marlins leadoff man and second baseman Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games after testing positive for two performance-enhancing substances banned by Major League Baseball.

    • "Obviously, two very different ends of the spectrum for us," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "You would expect our guys to be in there all excited, and then we get this news.

      "But from there, we'll support Dee. These guys love Dee, and I feel like he's one of my kids I've known him so long. We're going to love him, and then we're going to move forward. Definitely shocked and surprised."

      Gordon said in a statement Friday morning that he did not knowingly take PEDs but would not appeal the suspension.

      "Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization and the fans," Gordon said in the statement released by the MLB Players Association. "I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20-plus tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences."

      --Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant sat out Friday's game after suffering a mild right ankle sprain during Thursday's 7-2 victory over the Brewers. He might return to action Saturday.

      --Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce was activated from the paternity list after missing three games.

      Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips returned to the lineup after sitting out two games with a bruised left shin and bruised left ring finger.

      --Chicago White Sox pitcher Daniel Webb, who pitched an inning in Thursday night's loss, was put on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow flexor inflammation. The team called up right-hander Tommy Kahnle from Triple-A Charlotte.

      --The Baltimore Orioles signed left-hander Wandy Rodriguez to a minor league contract. Rodriguez, 37, went 6-4 with a 4.90 ERA in 17 games for Texas last season.

      --Former Red Sox left-handed pitcher Edwin Escobar was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Escobar was designated for assignment on April 20.

      --New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes returned to the lineup after missing six straight starts because of a bruised right leg.

      --The Philadelphia Phillies optioned right-hander Luis Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room on the roster for left-handed pitcher Adam Morgan.

      --The Cleveland Indians activated right-hander Tommy Hunter (core muscle surgery) from the disabled list and designated left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler for assignment.

  • NHL notebook: Ducks fire Boudreau
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    The Anaheim Ducks fired head coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday after the team lost a Game 7 again in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    • Ducks executive vice president/general manager Bob Murray said the search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

      The Nashville Predators eliminated the Ducks from the playoffs with a 2-1 victory in the seventh game of the series Wednesday night in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 17,407 at the Honda Center.

      It was the fourth consecutive season that Boudreau led Anaheim to the division title only to lose Game 7 at home each time after holding a 3-2 lead.

      Boudreau compiled a regular-season record of 208-104-40 with Anaheim and helped the franchise to the last four consecutive Pacific Division titles. The Ducks finished atop the Pacific standings with a 46-25-11 record for 103 points in 2015-16.

      --Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was fined $2,403.67 for kneeing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary during Game 1 of the second-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

      The amount of the fine is the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Friday.

      --The Buffalo Sabres re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.

      Larsson, 23, set career-high marks in games played (74), goals (10) and points (17) in his first full NHL season in 2015-16. Five of his 10 goals were game-winners, tying Jack Eichel for the team's lead.

      --The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Paul LaDue to a one-year entry-level contract after he helped North Dakota win the NCAA championship.

      LaDue, 23, appeared in 41 games this season with the University of North Dakota, recording 19 points (five goals, 14 assists), a plus-31 rating and 14 penalty minutes.

      --The Chicago Blackhawks and forward Luke Johnson agreed to terms on a three-year contract, the team announced Friday.

      Johnson, 21, had 11 goals and 10 assists in 43 games this season while helping the University of North Dakota to the NCAA championship.

      --The Calgary Flames signed Czech forward Daniel Pribyl to a two-year entry level contract on Friday.

      Pribyl, 23, was originally drafted by Montreal in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL draft. He has spent the last six seasons with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga.

      --The Nashville Predators President recalled forward Pontus Aberg from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.

      Aberg, 22, had 25 goals and 15 assists in 74 games for the Admirals this season. He tied for the league lead in game-winning goals with eight.

  • Dodgers' Roberts remains confident in Kendrick
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    LOS ANGELES -- It is hard to find a hot bat in the Los Angeles Dodgers' lineup right now. However, it is easy to spot the coldest one.

    • Howie Kendrick is just 7-for-52 (.135) with no extra-base hits and no RBIs in his first 16 games this season. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts Thursday in the Dodgers' 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.

      "Howie is getting some pitches to hit," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "The pitches where the at-bat should be ended, he's fouling them off or swinging through them. Now you're getting into pitcher's counts where you're getting nasty breaking balls, things like that. He's striking out a little more than he's accustomed to, but that lends itself to not ending at-bats when he should.

      "He's working hard. It's 50-something at-bats. Howie's going to get the hits. He'll be fine."

      Roberts said he has spoken with Kendrick about staying focused and trying not to worry about whether they end with base hits.

      "My message was to continue to have good at-bats like he has his entire career," Roberts said. "Like all players, you still want to get results, and when you line out, it gets a little deflating. But really, just try not to be so results-driven."

      Kendrick opened the season on the disabled list due to a calf injury he sustained in spring training. That limited the number of at-bats he had during the preseason and could be a factor in his slow start, Roberts acknowledged.

      "There might be something to that," Roberts said. "But I still think Howie knows how to prepare for a game. There might be something to that, but I believe at some point and time, he will come out of it."

  • Gordon's 80-game ban disappoints Marlins
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    LOS ANGELES -- The Miami Marlins never swept a four-game series from the Los Angeles Dodgers before Thursday. They hadn't even won four consecutive games against the Dodgers since the 1997 -- and then it was spread from April to August.

    • However, there was no celebrating that accomplishment in the visitors' clubhouse at Dodger Stadium following their 5-3 victory over the Dodgers.

      Immediately following the game, it was announced that Marlins leadoff man and second baseman Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games after testing positive for two performance-enhancing substances banned by Major League Baseball.

      "Obviously, two very different ends of the spectrum for us," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "You would expect our guys to be in there all excited, and then we get this news.

      "But from there, we'll support Dee. These guys love Dee, and I feel like he's one of my kids I've known him so long. We're going to love him, and then we're going to move forward. Definitely shocked and surprised."

      Gordon said in a statement Friday morning that he did not knowingly take PEDs but would not appeal the suspension.

      "Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization and the fans," Gordon said in the statement released by the MLB Players Association. "I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20-plus tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences."

      Gordon, 28, is in his sixth season in the majors. His first four seasons came under Mattingly with the Dodgers. After being traded to the Marlins in December 2014, Gordon went on to lead the National League in batting (.333) and stolen bases (58) in 2015 while also winning a Gold Glove award.

      That earned him a five-year, $50 million contract extension last winter. He will not receive pay during his suspension.

      Samson said the Marlins were alerted on Thursday.

      It is unclear when the Marlins learned that Gordon would be suspended, though his positive test came weeks ago and was appealed by Gordon. He played in the win over the Dodgers on Thursday, going 1-for-4 with the game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning.

      "Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him and support him," Marlins team president David Samson said Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. "That said, I do not like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come.

      "It is a huge, huge disappointment to the kids, to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization who works hard every single day to put a product on the field and off the field that all Miamians can be proud of."

  • Getaway night game irks Cardinals
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    PHOENIX -- The St. Louis Cardinals were not particularly pleased to learn that their getaway day in Arizona was actually a getaway night, giving them precious little recovery time before opening a 10-game homestand on Friday night.

    • "I think it's ridiculous," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said before the Cardinals lost 3-0 to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. "This is a shame. It's going to be a long night. I think most of us will watch the sun come up on the way home on the drive back from the airport."

      The Diamondbacks' victory started at 6:40 p.m. MST and was over in a crisp 2 hours, 25 minutes, but including the 3 1/2 hour plane flight to St. Louis and the two-hour time change, the Cardinals could have been expected to touch down at about 5 a.m. CDT.

      Union rules say a team must have an off day if it travels across three time zones, but there is no other prohibition against night travel. Teams usually try to work reciprocal arrangements with opposing teams -- you play an afternoon game on getaway day and we will when you come to town.

      Arizona had a complication Thursday, however. All its Thursday games are "throwback Thursdays," when the team wears purple to honor the original colors and celebrates the franchise's early years.

      Teams are given a chance to voice concerns when the first draft of the schedule is presented, but the only actual rule in play is the three-time-zone rule.

      The Cardinals begin their homestand with a three-game series against the National League East-leading Washington Nationals before a four-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies and a three-game series against a fellow NL Central toughie, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

      Right-hander Mike Leake, the Cardinals' scheduled Friday starter, flew home Thursday to stay in his normal rhythm.

  • D-backs pleased to emerge .500 from rough stretch
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks understood they would be challenged early this season, when they met all three National League Central powers and NL West rivals San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first 24 games.

    • They came out of it 12-12 ahead of a three-game home series against the Colorado Rockies this weekend to finish a 10-game homestand.

      "We based that tough start on what teams did last year," Arizona manager Chip Hale. "Everybody we face is a new challenge. Everywhere you go, you have to look at the matchups and see how that team matches up against your team.

      "On paper, it looked like a tough start, and it has been. We're right around .500, so we're hanging in there. Everybody is tough in this league. You learn that pretty quick."

      Colorado was particularly tough on the D-backs in the season-opening series, winning two of three while scoring 20 runs and hitting 10 homers. Rookie shortstop Trevor Story hit four homers in those three games, and with nine, he already has broken the NL rookie record for April set by Albert Pujols.

      The Rockies roughed up Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller in the first two games of the season, and the two will start in the final two games of the series this weekend.

      Colorado has lost five in a row after a 9-7 start that had them a half-game out of first place six days ago, but the Rockies have dropped into fourth place and Arizona is one-half game out of first place behind the Dodgers and Giants, both 12-11.

      "Somebody is going to go on a run," Hale said. "Hopefully we're that team. You have to be careful. You look good that you're .500, but you look up and somebody has run off 10 in a row. We'd like to be that team."

      Arizona improved its home record to 5-9 when Rubby De La Rosa struck out 10 in a 3-0 victory over St. Louis on Thursday, but Hale knows that needs to improve.

      "We'd like to protect our home field," Hale said. "We'd like to protect our stadium. That's important for a team to do. You have to win at home. That's imperative."

  • Marlins' Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    Minutes after Dee Gordon helped the Miami Marlins beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 on Thursday, Major League Baseball announced that the All-Star second baseman was suspended 80 games after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances.

    • According to the commissioner's office, Gordon's system was found to have exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

      The suspension, without pay, is due to go into effect immediately.

      Gordon, 28, is tied for third in the majors with six steals this season. After going 1-for-4 with a walk, a run and an RBI on Thursday, the leadoff man is hitting .266 with a .289 on-base percentage, a .340 slugging percentage, no homers and five RBIs in 21 games.

      Gordon was a National League All-Star for the Dodgers in 2014 and then for the Marlins in 2015 after an offseason trade.

      Last year, Gordon led the NL in three major offensive categories: batting average (.333), steals (58) and hits (205). He earned a Silver Slugger award for his offense and a Gold Glove award for his defense.

  • Red Sox brace for Yankees' arrival
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    BOSTON -- The Yankees are coming.

    • The Red Sox failed to close out a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night, and now Boston prepares for the first of two consecutive weekend series against its archrival.

      Boston comes in 12-10, while New York is floundering at 8-12.

      Is it still special when the teams get together?

      "It is," Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Thursday's loss. "It's always a spectacle, a focal point. The rivalry is always there -- regardless of where people are in the standings it always brings something out that's different, that you feel in the dugout, feel in the ballpark, the electricity that surrounds it."

      The Red Sox have been hitting. The Yankees have not, scoring three runs or fewer in 15 of their 20 games.

      Boston sends young left-hander Henry Owens to the mound for his second 2016 big-league start on Friday night against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

      "We've got to go out and continue to execute, swing the bat like we're capable," Farrell said. "But more importantly, control the game and particularly some big innings from the mound. That's been kind of our Achilles heel at this point."

  • Braves hope winning becomes contagious
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    BOSTON -- The struggling Atlanta Braves have to hope Thursday's victory in Boston can get them started toward some better things.

    • But three games at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs? Atlanta's 5-17 against the Cubs' 16-5? This might be unpleasant and the Braves go into New York for another meeting with a Mets team that swept them last weekend in Atlanta.

      "Last time we rattled off four in a row (after losing their first nine) we won a game like this," manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Thursday night's 5-3 victory. "Winning is contagious, just like anything else. And hopefully we can rattle off ... I'm not talking about sweeping the Cubs or anything, but maybe we can win two out of three there."

      Rookie Aaron Blair, making his second major league start, opens the series Friday afternoon with the Braves feeling at least a little relief from Thursday's victory.

      "Any game is big no matter how we win it," Nick Markakis said after recording four hits and three RBIs. "Especially with the way things are going now. We just need to battle, stay confident and support each other and be as consistent as we can."

  • Brewers' Braun continues assault on Cubs
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 28, 2016

    CHICAGO -- Ryan Braun loves to play against the Chicago Cubs.

    • The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder had a customary hostile reception when he stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of Tuesday's series opener against the Cubs.

      Braun also had his typical response -- a two-run double that cut the Brewers deficit to 4-3 -- which ended up the final margin.

      The Cubs figured out Braun on Thursday as he went 0-for-4 while reaching base once with a walk in the finale of an abbreviated two-game series. A Wednesday game was postponed by inclement weather.

      Still it's been a good run so far for Braun, hitting .352 with five homers and 17 RBIs.

      "His production's been really good and we want to keep him there," manager Craig Counsell said of Braun. "He's off to as good a start as he's ever had, so just trying to keep him there, keep him in a good place."

      He's traditionally been quite productive against Chicago.

      The 32-year-old veteran has 23 home runs against the Cubs since 2007, trailing only Albert Pujols (30) and Joey Votto (24) in the same span.

      Braun also has 94 RBIs against the Cubs -- the most in the majors since 2007 -- and is a .340 hitter in 123 games against Chicago.

      The vociferous reaction to Braun among Cubs fans stems in part from his 65-game suspension in 2013 after admitting use of performance enhancing drugs.

      He returned in 2014 and had career-low production the following two seasons, but appears to have put all that behind him this year.

  • Cubs' Bryant suffers ankle injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 28, 2016

    CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant didn't seem bothered as he rounded third base en route to home in the third inning of Thursday's game with the Milwaukee Brewers.

    • But somewhere along the way he apparently rolled his right ankle and by the fifth inning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon pulled Bryant out of the game.

      An initial report said Bryant suffered a mild sprain in the run for home plate.

      "I was watching him coming from second to third, I watched him hit the inside of the bag but I did not see any hitch in his giddy up," Maddon said. "I saw a really good

      turn and I focused somewhere else at that point."

      Bryant had another at-bat in the fourth inning and was hit by a pitch and was eventually stranded at second base.

      He was finally pulled in the fifth inning and had an MRI performed to check how serious his ankle may have been injured.

      There was no definitive report immediately after the game and whether Bryant misses any time is still to be determined.

      Maddon declined to speculate.

      "He went for an MRI on his ankle," Maddon said. "You saw him jog off the field when I pulled him. I don't even want to create conjecture. Let's just see what happens, let's look at the tests."

      Bryant is batting .289 with four home runs and 15 RBIs and 17 runs scored.

  • Nationals prepare for challenging road trip
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 28, 2016

    WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker admitted that he was aware of the upcoming road trip even before the 2016 season began.

    • The Nationals begin a three-city road trip Friday that will see the team play 10 games in 10 days against three teams that made the playoffs last year.

      And Washington will face three 2016 playoff contenders: the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs. The combined record of those teams was 39-23 going into Thursday.

      "This road trip is much publicized," said Baker, whose team is 14-7.

      And it doesn't help that the Nationals will head to St. Louis after being swept in three games by the Philadelphia Phillies, who won 3-0 on Thursday.

      Last season, the Nationals were 2-1 at Chicago and 1-2 at St. Louis. Washington was 1-2 at home against the Cubs in 2015 and 1-2 at home versus the Cardinals. The Nationals did not play last year against the Royals, who won the World Series.

      Washington will have pitcher Stephen Strasburg start on Friday in St. Louis against Mike Leake. Strasburg is 3-0 with an ERA of 2.17 this season.

      "We knew about (the challenge) before the season," Baker said of the upcoming road trip. The Nationals don't return home until May 9, when they face the Detroit Tigers.

      The Nationals have been blanked the last two games. The Nationals' starting lineup Thursday against the Phillies included six players hitting .182 or less.

      The Nationals did not score in the last 22 innings of the series and now have a team batting average of .233.

      Is closer Jonathan Papelbon concerned about his team's offense?

      "We play 162 games. You obviously go in streaks. You have to tip your hat to them," he said of the Phillies, his former team. "But it's a long season. It's baseball. I don't know how else to answer that question."

  • Loss of Morton could challenge Phillies' young staff
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 28, 2016

    WASHINGTON -- Phillies pitcher Charlie Morton, 32, is done for the season after an MRI revealed that he tore his left hamstring while running out a bunt on Saturday.

    • But Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin feels his young starting rotation can weather the loss of Morton, who made 23 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season and was 9-9.

      That was certainly the case when Jeremy Hellickson threw seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits in a 3-0 win on Wednesday against the Nationals.

      Hellickson has an ERA of 0.96 in his first three road starts this year and then Aaron Nola threw seven shutout innings Thursday in another 3-0 win over the Nationals.

      "We are optimistic that the guys we are thinking about (as starters) will move up eventually," said Mackanin, whose team will begin a series at home Friday with the Cleveland Indians. "We are going to be in plenty of games" with our pitching.

      But do the Phillies have enough arms to cover the loss of Morton, a New Jersey native who turns 33 in November? "We don't want to force anything. We will just see how everything transpires. We are fine now. We are covered," Mackanin said of his starters.

      Morton was 1-1 with an ERA of 4.15 in four starts, though he averaged just over four innings per start.

      "I feel bad for him. He was starting to throw really well," Mackanin said. "He was starting to use his curveball more. We will have to wait and see how (the rotation) works out. The plan is not to rush these guys."

      Morton most likely won't be able to be around the team much since his rehab will take him away, Mackanin said. "I don't think he will. I don't know what the rehab is for that type of thing," Mackanin noted. "There is a chance he will be around for a while. It is a lengthy rehab, I guess."

      The Phillies did not announce their starting pitcher for Friday against the Cleveland Indians but there is a good chance it will be Adam Morgan, 25, who was 5-7, 4.48 in 15 starts for the Phillies last season.

      He could be summoned from Triple-A to start on Friday. He was drafted in the third round in 2011 by the Phillies and was 1-1, 3.57 in his first three starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year. Morgan started April 21 and went seven innings and allowed two runs at Syracuse.

      "He has been pitching pretty well," Mackanin said.

      The injury to Morton took place when he was running the bases. So does that make Mackanin favor using the DH in the National League to prevent such injuries to pitchers? "I am still on the fence (about the DH in the National League)," he said. "He laid down a bunt; to me it is a fluke accident."