Following team’s 8th consecutive loss, Jonathan Papelbon says he “definitely didn’t come here for this”

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Even as recently as one week ago, the Phillies were considered to be buyers approaching the July 31 trade deadline. They wrapped up a nine-game road trip this afternoon against the Tigers, falling 12-4, their eighth consecutive loss. As mentioned here earlier, it was 50 shades of ugly. I can’t imagine the clubhouse was a fun place to be after the game.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth in his first appearance since July 21, offered up some comments on the state of the organization. Papelbon, now 32 years old, is signed through 2015 with a vesting option for 2016, so he has quite the incentive to see his team improve.

Via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:

“I definitely didn’t come here for this,” he said.

Papelbon carries an influential presence in the Phillies’ clubhouse as the team’s closer, a nine-year veteran and World Series champion. Asked what he thought about the direction the organization is headed, he sighed.

“Oh, man,” he said. “We could be here all day.”

So then what about this team’s ability to turn things around, if not this season, then next season?

“It’s going to take, in my opinion, a lot,” he said. “And in my opinion, I think it’s going to have to be something very similar to what the Red Sox went through a couple years ago. From top to bottom.”

Sounds like a shot at GM Ruben Amaro. Zolecki noted that Amaro declined to respond to Papelbon’s comments. They are not without merit: Papelbon was part of the 2011 Red Sox that were torn apart by clubhouse controversy. They parted with GM Theo Epsten, manager Terry Francona, and eventually a handful of expensive, veteran players, including Papelbon.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.