Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching-desperate Braves acquire Milone from Orioles

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ATLANTA — Desperate for starting pitching as they pursue a third straight NL East title, the Atlanta Braves acquired left-hander Tommy Milone from the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday for two players to be named.

The division-leading Braves have struggled to put together a rotation behind Max Fried, who is 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA. Ian Anderson, who pitched one-hit ball over six innings in his major league debut last week, is the only other Atlanta starter to earn a win this season.

The 33-year-old Milone will be thrown right into the mix, starting Sunday night’s game at Philadelphia. The Braves chartered a flight from Buffalo, where the Orioles were playing a weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays, to ensure their newest starter wasn’t subjected to possible exposure to the coronavirus.

“We’ve not had any players join us after after taking a commercial flight, and we’d prefer not to do it,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “We’re not going to take any chances. There’s no script for this, but we’re always going to err on the side of caution anytime we can.”

Milone gives the Braves another much-needed starting option in the shortened 60-game season, though Anthopoulos will continue to pursue additional pitching help right up to Monday’s trade deadline.

He conceded that it may be tough to find another deal.

“There’s not a lot of sellers out there. With the expanded playoffs, even the teams that are on the outside looking in are close,” he said. “We didn’t want to wait around. If a deal made sense to us, we wanted to go ahead and do it.”

Milone is 1-4 with a 3.99 ERA over six starts in his first season with the Orioles. The Braves initially inquired about his availability shortly after ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending Achilles injury on Aug. 3.

“He’s thrown the ball really well,” Anthopoulos said. “The change-up has always been his go-to pitch, but he’s having more success with that, a lot more success than last year. He’s always been a strike thrower, but from talking to him, he feels his command is that much stronger.”

The Orioles will get a couple of prospects who are not in the Braves’ 60-man pool of potential players.

After signing a minor league deal with the Orioles in February, Milone received a major league contract in July. He started on opening day as a replacement for injured John Means and has 31 strikeouts and only four walks over 29 1/3 innings.

Milone’s best effort of the season – six innings of three-hit ball against Washington on Aug. 7 – earned him his lone win with Baltimore. In his last outing, he took his third straight loss, surrendering four runs (two earned) and two homers in 5 1/3 innings of a 4-2 setback to Tampa Bay.

Any contribution would certainly be welcomed in Atlanta.

In addition losing Soroka, the Braves have yet to get any innings out of newcomer Cole Hamels, who has been dealing with a sore left shoulder since the spring. They demoted two other starters, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb, to their alternate-training site after poor showings. Another potential option, former AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, opted out of the season because of coronavirus concerns.

With their rotation in tatters, the Braves tried 10 starters over their first 32 games. Promising young pitchers such as Touki Tousaint and Kyle Wright were hit hard, finally forcing the team to use journeyman relievers Josh Tomlin and Robbie Erlin as starters. But that clearly wasn’t an long-term solution for a team that hopes to win its first playoff series since 2001.

Milone broke into the big leagues in 2011 with the Nationals and has pitched for Oakland, Minnesota, Milwaukee, the Mets and Seattle. He has a career record of 51-51 with a 4.45 ERA.

Anthopoulos said Hamels is making progress and could be an option late in the season. He was scheduled to throw a second bullpen session Sunday, which could possibly lead to a simulated games in the next few weeks.

“He’s moving in the right direction,” the general manager said. “We feel like he’s turned a corner.”

Marlins clinch 1st playoff berth since 2003, beat Yanks 4-3

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Forced from the field by COVID-19, the Miami Marlins returned with enough force to reach the playoffs for the first time since their 2003 championship.

An NL-worst 57-105 a year ago, they sealed the improbable berth on the field of the team that Miami CEO Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly once captained.

“I think this is a good lesson for everyone. It really goes back to the players believing,” Mattingly said Friday night after a 4-3, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.

Miami will start the playoffs on the road Wednesday, its first postseason game since winning the 2003 World Series as the Florida Marlins, capped by a Game 6 victory in the Bronx over Jeter and his New York teammates at the previous version of Yankee Stadium.

“We play loose. We got nothing to lose. We’re playing with house money.,” said Brandon Kintzler, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded after Jesus Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th. “We are a dangerous team. And we really don’t care if anyone says we’re overachievers.”

Miami (30-28), second behind Atlanta in the NL East, became the first team to make the playoffs in the year following a 100-loss season. The Marlins achieved the feat despite being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that prevented them from playing for more than a week.

After the final out, Marlins players ran onto the field, formed a line and exchanged non socially-distant hugs, then posed for photos across the mound.

“I can’t contain the tears, because it’s a lot of grind, a lot of passion,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “It wasn’t just the virus. Last year we lost 100 games. But we came out this year with the hope everything was going to be better. When we had the outbreak, the guys who got an opportunity to help the organization, thank you for everything you did.”

Miami was one of baseball’s great doubts at the start of the most shortened season since 1878, forced off the field when 18 players tested positive for COVID-19 following the opening series in Philadelphia.

“Yeah, we’ve been through a lot. Other teams have been through a lot, too,” Mattingly said “This just not a been a great situation. It’s just good to be able to put the game back on the map.”

New York (32-26) had already wrapped up a playoff spot but has lost five of six following a 10-game winning streak and is assured of starting the playoffs on the road. Toronto clinched a berth by beating the Yankees on Thursday.

“I don’t like any time somebody celebrates on our field or if we’re at somebody else’s place and they celebrate on their field,” Yankees star Aaron Judge said. “I’m seeing that too much.”

Mattingly captained the Yankees from 1991-95 and is in his fifth season managing the Marlins, Jeter captained the Yankees from 2003-14 as part of a career that included five World Series titles in 20 seasons and is part of the group headed by Bruce Sherman that bought the Marlins in October 2017.

Garrett Cooper, traded to the Marlins by the Yankees after the 2017 season, hit a three-run homer in the first inning off J.A. Happ.

After the Yankees tied it on Aaron Hicks‘ two-run double off Sandy Alcantara in the third and Judge’s RBI single off Yimi Garcia in the eighth following an error by the pitcher on a pickoff throw, the Marlins regained the lead with an unearned run in the 10th against Chad Green (3-3).

Jon Berti sacrificed pinch-runner Monte Harrison to third and, with the infield in, Starling Marte grounded to shortstop. Gleyber Torres ran at Harrison and threw to the plate, and catcher Kyle Higashioka‘s throw to third hit Harrison in the back, giving the Yankees a four-error night for the second time in three games.

With runners at second and third, Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly.

Brad Boxberger (1-0) walked his leadoff batter in the ninth but got Luke Voit to ground into a double play, and Kintzler held on for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Miami ended the second-longest postseason drought in the majors – the Seattle Mariners have been absent since 2001.

Miami returned Aug. 4 following an eight-day layoff with reinforcements from its alternate training site, the trade market and the waiver wire to replace the 18 players on the injured list and won its first five games.

“We’re just starting,” said Alcantara, who handed a 3-2 lead to his bullpen in the eighth. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

TOSSED

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing from the dugout in the first inning. Plate umpire John Tumpane called out Judge on a full-count slider that appeared to drop well below the knees and Boone argued during the next pitch, to Hicks, then was ejected. Television microphones caught several of Boone’s profane shouts.

“Reacting to a terrible call and then following it up,” Boone said. “Obviously, we see Aaron get called a lot on some bad ones down.”

ODD

Pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole second base in the eighth following a leadoff single by Gary Sanchez but was sent back to first because Tumpane interfered with the throw by catcher Chad Wallach. Clint Frazier struck out on the next pitch and snapped his bat over a leg.

SLOPPY

New York took the major league lead with 47 errors. Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference for the third time in five days and fourth time this month.

REMEMBERING

Mattingly thought of Jose Fernandez, the former Marlins All-Star pitcher who died four years earlier to the night at age 24 while piloting a boat that crashed. An investigation found he was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system. The night also marked the sixth anniversary of Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium.

UP NEXT

RHP Deivi Garcia (2-2, 4.88) starts Saturday for the Yankees and LHP Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.84) for the Marlins. Garcia will be making the sixth start of his rookie season.