Cardinals hit 5 home runs in 10-3 win over Phillies

When the opposing pitcher hits a homer, you know you’re in for a long night. Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright, smashed a 408 ft three run shot in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 3-all. The Cardinals went on to snap a four game winning streak by defeating the Phillies 10-3.

“Right now, it’s all about wins for me,” Wainwright said. “We’ve got to win the game when I take the mound until I get back to 100 percent ready to rock and roll like I’m going to. But that homer woke us up, we had some ducks on the pond there and I came through.”

Wainwright pitched six innings, allowing three earned runs and five hits. With the victory, he improved to (2-3) on the season and has won two straight. 

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The Phillies took a 3-0 lead in the third inning thanks to three singles and a walk. SS Freddy Galvis drove in the two runs with a bases loaded double to left center.

Rookie SS Aledmys Diaz, 1B Matt Adams, and CF Randal Grichuk all added solo homers and 2B Kolten Wong roped a two run bomb to help St. Louis overcome a 3-0 deficit and avoid its first five game losing streak. The sixth run came from Stephen Piscotty‘s RBI single and the final run for the Cardinals occurred after an RBI single by Brandon Moss in the eighth inning. 

“Everything was good,” Wainwright said. “I’ve got to get my hook going better. I’ve got to get the curveball to not be so loopy. I expect it to be right and it will be eventually. I was very confident coming into the game. From the first pitch I threw in Arizona, I knew I was on the right track. I’m very close, I really am.”

Jeremy Hellickson (2-2) was the starter for the Phillies in last night’s contest. He got chased after 5 1/3 innings, giving up six runs, seven hits, and four walks.

Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin voiced his opinion on the loss after the game. “We haven’t had one of those games in a while,” Mackanin told the reporters. “It’s bound to happen to everyone now and then. We jumped out to a three run lead and we just couldn’t hold it.”

The Phillies continue their series against St. Louis tonight where Aaron Nola (1-2) and Michael Wacha (2-1) will duel it out on the hill. Coverage starts at 8:10 PM ET.

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Velasquez, bullpen helps Phillies past Indians

I thought this was supposed to be a down year for the Phils? Apparently not, because they have looked sharp over last couple of weeks. Yesterday, the Phillies defeated the Cleveland Indians 2-1 to complete the sweep and earn their sixth win in a row (9 out of the last 10).

Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez tossed a two hit ball game over six innings of play. He struck out six and was able to effectively pitch around trouble. Because of this, he lowered his ERA to 1.44. RHP David Hernandez relieved for the Phillies and pitched two scoreless innings. Later, Hector Neris earned his first career save after giving up a solo homer to Carlos Santana with one out in the ninth. He finished the game off with a K, his 24th in 15 1/3 innings, tying him with Dellin Betances for the lead in K’s by a relief pitcher.

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Hernandez had some words after the game. “Our offense isn’t explosive by any means so for us to be successful, we have to win close games and we understand that”, Hernandez said.

In this contest, runs were far from easy to come by as they have been all season. All of the scoring by the Phillies was done in the third inning where a RBI single by Freddy Galvis scored Velasquez. Afterward, a balk by Danny Salazar brought the second run home.

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Salazar was the tough luck loser for Cleveland. He gave up two runs, three hits, and mowed down eight in seven innings. Salazar hasn’t allowed more than three hits in any of his five starts.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, the Indians have played in six straight one run games and have gone 1-5.

It’s no secret that the Phillies’ great start this season is largely due to strong pitching. The staff altogether has three shutouts and has only given up 10 runs during this winning streak. “It’s phenomenal,” Velasquez said. “We’re doing a great job. It’s fun to watch.”

The Phillies start a new series tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals.Jeremy Hellickson (2-1) will start on the mound for the Phillies and the Cardinals starting pitcher will be Adam Wainwright (1-3). Coverage starts at 8:10 PM ET.

 

 

The Good and Bad: Eagles’ Draft Analysis

We all know that the Philadelphia Eagles drafted quarterback Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State University with the No. 2 overall pick in the first round. You can read all about that here. What some folks don’t seem to understand is that there are in fact more rounds to the NFL Draft and those picks actually matter too. Imagine that. Let’s talk about the Eagles’ draft after the first round and look at some of the good and not so good picks they made.

Round 3, pick No. 79: Isaac Seumalo, C, Oregan State

My Take: I really like this pick. It just made sense for the Eagles to draft an offensive lineman here considering their last offensive lineman draft pick was Lane Johnson in 2013. Not to mention all the investing in quarterbacks this offseason. Seumalo stands at 6-foot-4, weighs 303 lbs, and has a 33″ arm length. He had good size and is solid in both facets of the game. The downside is he is far from being dominant but is well known for being consistent and getting the job done. Pro Football Focus also gave Seumalo its second highest grade for pass protection among guards in this year’s draft. I’d say that’s pretty good. Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson said in an interview in regard to Semalo, “We love his versatility.”

Seumalo will have the chance to compete for the Eagles’ starting left guard spot against Allen Barbre.

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Round 5, pick No. 153: Wendell Smallwood RB, West Virginia

My Take: I’m actually pretty content with this pick too. I think the Eagles made a good decision to take Smallwood during a round where a few different RBs were taken within a couple picks of each other.

Smallwood is 5-foot-10 and weighs 208lbs. He led the Big 12 with 1,519 rushing yards in 2015. Not bad. Not bad at all. Smallwood also added 31 receptions for a total of 326 yards. This is a very important aspect of his game because it could be crucial for succeeding in Pederson’s west coast style offense.

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Round 5, pick No. 164: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT, TCU

My Take: Good luck pronouncing this guy’s name. I almost would rather he turns out to be a bust because I think I would get a headache hearing the announcers say his name every couple plays. But seriously, once again not a bad pick. I see where the Eagles are going with this. They want to create a group of young offensive lineman that will keep the team stocked at its most important positions.

Vaitai is 6-foot-6 and weighs 320 lbs. His strengths are considered to be his lateral quickness, adequate athleticism, and his mental awareness. His weaknesses are that he is too stiff-legged, has very poor hand strength, and has a very average foot quickness.

The bottom line is Vaitai has been a full time starter at TCU for the last two seasons, but he doesn’t have the pure athleticism to play left tackle or the core power to start on the right side.

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Round 6, pick No. 196: Blake Countess, CB, Auburn

My Take: Last year the Eagles and Chip Kelly traded away Brandon Boykin, a very effective nick cornerback, because of his height.

Well, I guess with Chip’s departure also went the height bias because Countess stands at 5-foot-9 and weights 184 lbs. Eagles executive vice president of football operations, Howie Roseman said that the team received a recommendation from Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. “Coach Muschamp, when you check in with him, he thinks he was not only one of the best players on the defense, he thinks he was one of the best players on the team,” Roseman said.

I would say that is a good sign.

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Round 7, pick No. 233: Jalen Mills, S, Louisiana State University

My Take: Mills had an interesting career at LSU, including a misdemeanor for allegedly punching a woman (it later was dropped) and a broken left fibula, which caused him to miss five games.

Mills is 6 foot and weighs 191 lbs. A four year starter in a talented conference with good slot cover ability.

In 46 games, Mills intercepted six passes and broke up 16. He played cornerback, safety, and nickleback during his college career at LSU.

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Round 7, pick No. 240: Alex McCalister, DE, Florida

My Take: McCalister is a 6-foot-6, 239 lb defensive end who still needs to develop. He is a good athlete but gets by mostly on raw talent and not fundamentals. He could also use some more weight on his frame but I’m sure that won’t be a problem. With some coaching and conditioning work, McCalister may realize his potential in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz‘s pressuring the QB scheme.

"The Missouri Tigers come into Gainesville and spoil the Florida Gators' homecoming with a 42-13 win."

Round 7, pick No. 251: Joe Walker, ILB, Oregon

My Take: Basically, the Eagles’ roster is light in the linebacker department so I think this pick was purely made to add some more depth to the position.

The 6-foot-2 inside linebacker will have to compete hard and show out during training camp in order to earn a spot. It will not be easy.

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Howard’s walk-off lifts Phillies past Indians 4-3

Watching Ryan Howard go deep used to be a regular thing. Nowadays it’s more like a special occasion. Last night, Howard hit a walk-off shot in the 11th inning to lead the Phillies to a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians. Howard’s home run was on a full count off Indians relief pitcher Cody Allen (0-3). It was his fifth of the season and his sixth career game-ending bomb. Howard spoke about his success after the game. “I’m having a blast”, he said. “There’s a different energy and all that began in spring training.” Howard, being the longest tenured Phillie on the roster, singled and doubled in his first two at bats. Still, after a great game last night, he is only hitting a weak .185.

Phillies RHP David Hernandez (1-1) struck out four in two innings of relief to capture the win. Altogether, Philadelphia’s pitchers combined for 18 K’s and the bullpen had a great performance by throwing six scoreless innings.

Carlos Ruiz and Howard gave Philadelphia fans a flashback to the good old days when they hit back to back doubles that made the score 3-2 in favor of the Indians. I felt as if I was watching those old 2008-2009 teams for a second. Considering Ruiz and Howard are the only players left from the 2008 world series team, it was definitely nice to see. Later in the fifth, the Phillies tied the game at 3-all and had a chance to go ahead with a runner in scoring position. But, suddenly it was back to that reality that it was 2016 and Howard went down swinging to keep the game tied going into the sixth.

Phillies starter Adam Morgan pitched a so-so game until he was pulled in the fifth inning due to the little rally the Phillies had going. Up to that point, he recorded seven strikeouts, which is a career high for Morgan. He also only allowed five hits and walked one. He gave up all three in the fifth inning when Indians’ 2B Jason Kipnis smashed a two run home run, his third on the season. Indians’ RHP and 2014 Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber allowed five hits and struck out six in seven innings. After the game he commented, “I don’t think I had too much working for me tonight.”

With the victory, the Phillies are now on a four game winning streak and have won seven of the last eight. Pretty good for a team that was widely picked to finish last in the NL East, huh?

Phillies will face the Indians in the second game of the series tonight. Coverage starts at 7:05 PM ET.

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Eagles select Wentz with No. 2 overall pick

“And with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles select Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State University.” Ah, it was like music to my ears hearing Roger Goodell announce those words behind his podium. The Eagles got their wish and Head Coach Doug Pederson was happy. “He’s a winner”, he said. “I love the intangibles about him. He really is a very attractive pick for us.”

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Although I am content and excited about the Eagles selecting Wentz, it all depends on how you look at it. Philadelphia made a total of three different trades to go from the N0. 13 overall pick to the No. 2 overall pick. That’s a lot. Also, the Eagles could have decided to go a completely different way and focus on building the best possible team around Sam Bradford, who just signed a new contract. By doing so, this would have meant holding onto their draft picks and selecting at No. 13, where arguably the best player in the draft ending up being taken. Ironic, isn’t it? This strategy might have worked better, at least in the short run. Bradford may finally find his groove this season and reach his potential in Pederson’s offense. Who knows? The Eagles were definitely not going to place all of their eggs in one basket, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. Wentz could turn out to be overrated and over time the Eagles may realize that they paid way to high of a price to go up and grab him. But hey, they took a shot and only time will tell.

As far as tangible attributes go, he has the whole package. Standing at 6-foot-5 237 lbs, his arm strength and physical tools are about as good as it gets for the quarterback position. But to me, this isn’t what separates him from the rest of the pack. Everyone knows that the intangible qualities are the difference between a good player and a great player. I believe Wentz has what it takes. He is a fierce competitor who knows how to win, plain and simple. He led his college team to two national championship wins and is well regarded as a great teammate and friend. Not to mention the man has never received a final grade below an A in his entire life. Now THAT is something I want to hear about my future franchise quarterback.

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Unfortunately there are a lot of risks and unknowns about a player like Wentz, although it really is tough to find something not to like about him. For starters, he played at an NCAA FCS level in college. Despite the fact that the school he played for is often considered the Alabama of Division I-AA, the competition is without a doubt not as good. Another concern of mine is that Wentz has not played in many football games. He started only 23 games in college and when he was out with a broken wrist during the 2015 season, his backup went 8-0 to lead the team to the National Championship game. I don’t doubt Wentz’s ability but is it more the quarterback or more the system? To me, if he can play then he can play. Quarterbacks that came from the FCS have succeeded in the NFL- such as Joe Flacco and Steve McNair – but it does add another element of risk to an already uncertain prospect.

The last time the Eagles decided to choose a quarterback with the No. 2 pick, it was arguably the best player in franchise history, Donovan McNabb. Coach Pederson was the backup on that 1999 team and is likely trying to emulate Andy Reid‘s development of Mcnabb as a franchise quarterback with Wentz. Still, when asked to compare Wentz to another quarterback, Pederson did not mention Mcnabb. Instead, he decided to compare Wentz to Brett Favre. “He’s got that mentality”, he said. “He’s got that aggressiveness that Brett had. Those are some of the skill sets I see in Carson – that aggression, that ability to throw the ball down the field. I love quarterbacks that are willing to take a chance, take a calculated risk down the field. Brett was that way and I see the same thing in Carson.”

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Bradford remains the sheriff in town for now but circumstances could definitely change real fast. Even though, the Eagles do not plan on dressing Wentz at all this upcoming season, history says otherwise. So expect to see Wentz be thrown into the fire at some point this winter. You won’t want to miss that.

As for the Eagles’ organization moving forward, they will unquestionably be working their phones to try and acquire another draft pick or two. Thanks to last year’s trade for Bradford, they have no second round picks. They also had two third round picks and a fourth round pick but traded them away to Cleveland to move up to No. 2 in the first round. So unless the Eagles’ front office has a couple tricks up their sleeves, the rest of this draft will be pretty uneventful for Philadelphia. Coverage of the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft start tonight at 7 PM ET.

 

Hellickson pitches Phillies past Nats 3-0

On a cool night in Washington, the Nationals struggled to produce in front of their home crowd, resulting in a 3-0 loss to the Phillies. It was the Nationals second loss in a row and the first time this season that they have managed to be shut-out.

Philadelphia’s Jeremy Hellickson (2-1) had an impressive outing, only allowing two hits over the course of seven innings and striking out eight. He appeared to be calm and unbothered by the chilly temperature and drizzles that were inevitably a part of last night’s contest. Nationals 2B Danny Espinosa spoke highly of Hellickson after the game. “He’s constantly changing speeds”, Espinosa voiced. “That changeup’s got a string on it. That thing stops.” Hellickson also had a monster fourth inning where he was able to record three straight K’s against reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Daniel Murphy. The Phillies and Hellickson successfully stuck to their gameplan for Harper, who went 0-2 and was walked twice. Jeanmar Gomez later sealed the deal for Philadelphia by pitching a perfect ninth inning and recording his sixth save on the season.

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Nationals starter, Gio Gonzalez (1-1) also dealt a good game until the sixth inning when things started to fall apart for the 30 year old lefthander. A single, walk, and a wild pitch led to a sacrifice fly from Darin Ruf and a 1-0 lead for Philadelphia. The Phillies then increased that lead to 2-0 when an unearned run scored due to an overthrow at home plate by Washington 3B Anthony Rendon. Carlos Ruiz added a solo home run in the eighth inning to put the Phillies ahead 3-0.

With the victory, the Phillies have moved to 11-10 on the season, a single game over .500. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was proud of his team’s performance last night and told the media what his plans are moving forward. “People have asked me what my goal is for this year, knowing the type of team we have, and my goal is to try to play .500”, Mackanin said, “and we’ll go from there, depending on what transpires.”

The Phillies will try to complete a three-game sweep when they take the field against the Nationals today. Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (1-2 4.50 ERA) will take the mound for Philadelphia while RHP Tanner Roark (2-2 2.63 ERA) will start for Washington. Coverage starts at 4:05 PM ET.

Phillies top Nationals 4-3

Last night the Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals by a score of 4-3. The big win was in a large part due to the strategic game plan around reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper. Harper, who bats third for the Nationals, came into the first game of the series yesterday with a league leading 9 home runs and 23 RBIs. So basically unless you play for Washington, the guy is a huge problem. Because of this, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin knew he had to be prepared and spoke about the idea of limiting Harper after the game. “I’m going to walk him every time we face him this series”, Mackanin said in a sarcastic voice. “No,  I’m kidding. That’s a joke” Well, as far as last night goes, it doesn’t seem like that was a joke, or at least not a very funny one. Philadelphia walked Harper three times in the first game of the series, two of them being intentional. Although Harper did end up hitting an RBI single off of Vince Velasquez in the fifth inning, for the most part he was held in check.

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The young slugger did happen to make a plate performance in the ninth inning at a point in the game where an intentional walk was not an option. “I wasn’t going to walk him and put the tying run on second base”, stated Mackanin. Harper was able to foul off a couple pitches for an exciting at-bat but Phillies relief pitcher Jeanmar Gomez was eventually able to force a ground out to third base earning his fifth save on the year. Harper wasn’t content with his performance. “Pretty upset I didn’t get the ball on the barrel. I had some pitches that I could have drove and just didn’t make it happen”, he spoke with distaste. “I think you can’t hit a homer every time but I definitely had two or three pitches I could have drove out of the yard and just fouled them straight back.” Harper also talked about his faith and confidence in his teammates regarding Philadelphia’s strategy to walk him early on. “I have really big faith in the guys behind me”, he uttered. “I don’t mind getting on base”.

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As for the Phillies offense, much of the firepower came thanks to 2B Andres Blanco. He recorded three hits and a two run home run. He also scored the go ahead run off of Maikel Franco‘s seventh inning double. Franco ended up stumbling and collapsing after rounding first base, although he was able to get up and make it to second. He was later checked out by a trainer and appeared to be okay, which is a sigh of relief for the Phillies moving forward.

Velasquez received the win which improves his record to 3-1 on the season. The Phillies now get prepared to play game two of the series tonight in Washington where Jeremy Hellickson (1-1 , 5.21 ERA) will get the nod. First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET. Tune in.