Phillies show no mercy, demolish “Futures” squad 19-4

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With the regular season just days away from beginning, the Phillies arrived in Reading, Pennsylvania after a month and a half in Clearwater, Florida. It’s their last stop before arriving home at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Their task: defeat the “Futures” squad. Boy, did they ever.

The major league squad showed no mercy against their less-experienced teammates, winning 19-4 in a seven-inning contest. Youngsters Zach Eflin and Mark Appel surrendered four home runs each. Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis, Darin Ruf, Cesar Hernandez, Tyler Goeddel, Maikel Franco, Cedric Hunter, and Ryan Howard each homered for the major league squad. Dylan Cozens, Roman Quinn, and J.P. Crawford homered for the Futures.

Appel, acquired from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade, didn’t have a great start to his night. He got two quick outs after replacing Edubray Ramos, but he then served up back-to-back-to-back solo home runs to Goeddel, Franco, and Hunter. In fairness to the pitchers, Reading is very friendly towards hitters.

Hector Neris had the best pitching performance on the night, pitching on the big league side. He went three innings in relief, allowing a run on three hits and a walk while striking out six.

Maybe all of this was to make up for losing 6-2 to the University of Tampa — a Division II college baseball team — last year. The Phillies beat the University of Tampa 8-3 last month and now have vanquished their minor league squad.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).