Carlos Zambrano, who last week insisted he was ready to join the Phillies’ rotation, tossed six shutout innings yesterday at Single-A.
That gives Zambrano a total of 10.1 scoreless innings in two starts for Clearwater, although his 5/4 K/BB ratio isn’t impressive. He’s induced a ton of ground balls, hasn’t given up a homer, and opponents are hitting just .184.
Zambrano can opt out of his minor-league contract on July 1 if he hasn’t been added to the Phillies’ roster by then, but indicated to Adam Berry of MLB.com that he’s willing to show a little more patience:
I’m going to Double-A or Triple-A. And after that, I think I will be ready and I will wait for the call. … Whatever they want me to do–one more outing, whatever. I’m ready to pitch in the big leagues.
Berry reports that Zambrano was working at 90 miles per hour with his sinker and he threw 78 pitches overall, but it’s hard to blame the Phillies for not fully buying into Zambrano immediately based on two Single-A starts given how poorly he’s pitched for the past two seasons.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.