Back to the AL: Phils Resume Interleague Play Against Mariners

Back to the AL: Phils Resume Interleague Play Against Mariners

Hey, it's interleague time again! Nothing quite like checking the ol' schedule to see if the Philadelphia Phillies are playing the Nationals or Padres or what and finding out that it's…The Seattle Mariners? Huh? The two teams have not faced off since 2005 and have played only six times total, with the Phils winning but one of the half-dozen contests. Ryan Howard has never even faced the Mariners, and no one on the lineup has faced Mariners rookie pitcher Michael Pineda, who will be taking the hill in Seattle tonight. It's just a nice little change of pace from the daily grind—even if the same-old, same-old has been particularly nice to the Phils over their recent seven-game winning streak.

Unfortunately, the storyline from this series that would have packed a little sizzle—Cliff Lee's return to the team that deadline-dealt him after just 13 starts last year—will not come to its fruition, as Lee's turn in the rotation will not come until the Cardinals series later next week. Instead, the Mariners will have to suffice with the come back of Mr. Raul Ibanez, seeing the team he played ten seasons (five partial and five full) for for the first time since signing with Philly as a free agent. Will Raul be greeted with boos upon his return, or with Rauuuuuuuls? Will we even be able to tell the difference?

Anyway, the Mariners appear to be continuing their recent pattern of trading off years of everyone thinking they'd be good and them sucking, and everyone thinking they'd suck and them being…almost good. This year, they've overperformed to the tune of a 35-34 record, good for just a game out of the division lead in the weak AL West this season. Pineda, pitching the series opener, is a big reason why—at 6-4 with a 2.72 and an impressive 3.48 K/BB ratio, he's an early front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year, and a potential rotation co-anchor with Felix Hernandez for years to come in the city of grunge. (Unless, of course, Felix gets traded to the Yankees in a month and a half. Damnation.) Also of interest will be the possible debut for the M's of second baseman Dustin Ackley, a highly touted call-up who was taken by Seattle with the #2 overall pick in '09.

10:10 first pitch from Safeco Field. We'll be throwing out no slouch ourselves in the pitching department, with Roy Oswalt suiting up tonight for the Fightins. Can we push for the double-digit win streak by the time the series wraps on Sunday?

Phillies prospect Victor Arano out at least a month with elbow injury

Phillies prospect Victor Arano out at least a month with elbow injury

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies received some good and bad news on pitcher Victor Arano.

He was diagnosed with a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Surgery was not prescribed, which is good news.

The bad news, he’s been shut down for at least a month.

Arano’s injury was treated with a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection.

The 22-year-old from Mexico said he first started feeling some tenderness in the elbow during a stint in the Arizona Fall League. He experienced some swelling in the elbow after reporting to camp earlier this month.

Arano is an intriguing prospect. He was acquired from the Dodgers as part of the package for starter Roberto Hernandez in August 2014. He impressed team officials in spring training 2015 and really took a big step forward after moving to the bullpen last season. He pitched 79 2/3 innings in 46 games at Single A Clearwater and Double A Reading and recorded a 2.26 ERA while striking out 95 and walking just 19.

Arano’s stuff has been compared to that of Edubray Ramos, who jumped from Double A to Triple A to the majors last season.

The injury means Arano will have to start the season on the disabled list.

In other health news, pitcher Jake Thompson graduated to a bullpen mound on Wednesday. He had been slowed by a sore wrist, but is fine now. Thompson proved that by winning the longest drive at Tuesday’s annual team golf outing.

Thompson lines up to open the season at Triple A.

Give and Go: How much credit does Brett Brown deserve for Sixers' improvement?

Give and Go: How much credit does Brett Brown deserve for Sixers' improvement?

With the team at the All-Star break, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we analyze the job head coach Brett Brown has done this season.

Brown's performance has already resulted in more wins than any other season under his leadership, but it continues to be a complex judgment.

He's still tied to an extremely young roster, which lends itself to the high number of turnovers, mistakes coming out of timeouts and defensive breakdowns. 

However, he has managed to get several players to show growth in their games and make sure the Sixers remain balanced even with Joel Embiid's emergence. That can also be attributed to Brown's emphasis on state of play and not state of pay.

He turned to T.J. McConnell ($874,636 salary) at starting point guard over Sergio Rodriguez ($8 million) because the second-year pro has proven to be a better fit and has routinely moved Gerald Henderson ($9 million) from starter to reserve.

Then of course, there has been Brown's handling of the Sixers' mashup at center. The coach has found each guy minutes when he can and, according to the players, been up front about all potential minutes and trade scenarios.

Perhaps Brown's finest job this season has come in a role he thought was over: team delegate. Once Sam Hinkie exited and Bryan Colangelo proclaimed he would be more open with information, Brown certainly had to think his days of standing in front of the media to explain every single thing going on with the franchise were over. Think again. 

Still, Brown's been there each day, answering just about every question thrown his way from injuries to trade rumors. If nothing else, he deserves to be commended for dealing with that ... again.

It's amazing what a few NBA-caliber players can do.

After accumulating a 47-199 record over his first three seasons, Brown has led the Sixers to a 21-35 mark so far this season. Sure, much of the credit for the team's success has to do with adding legitimate NBA talent (and a legitimate NBA star in Embiid). With that said, you're finally starting to see Brown's fingerprints on the Sixers.

A protégé of Gregg Popovich's with the Spurs, Brown preaches defense and ball movement. The Sixers' defense has been a catalyst for their success this season. As Brown says in his Bostralian accent, the defensive end is where the Sixers' "bread is buttered." 

With unselfish players with decent court vision like Dario Saric and Gerald Henderson added to the mix, the Sixers don't look like a total disaster in the half court. They're ninth in the NBA at 23.5 assists per game. They haven't finished higher than 15th in the league in any of Brown's three seasons. 

When you consider what Brown has gone through and how he's managed to keep everything positive, it's incredible. Hinkie pegged Brown as his guy, knowing that Brown was an excellent teacher and had the right attitude to deal with losing. You have to be encouraged by what you've seen out of Brown and the Sixers this season.