Beer, Oswalt, Rollins, and Brown Combine to Start the Weekend Off Right

Beer, Oswalt, Rollins, and Brown Combine to Start the Weekend Off Right

I don't have much for you in terms of an insightful recap of last night's 6-4 Phillies win over the Mets, unless you want to read the hung-over, half-remembered thoughts of a guy who watched the game on the TV over the bar at Victory Brewing Company. If so, here are those thoughts.
Roy Oswalt had a respectable follow-up to Cliff Lee's work at the plate on Thursday, successfully laying down a sac bunt that moved Chooch over to where Jimmy Rollins could knock him in for the game's first run. In his next plate appearance, RoyO notched an RBI of his own, singling in John Mayberry Jr. He looked solid on the mound from my vantage, in that every time I looked up at the TV through five innings, there was a zero next to the NYM on the scoreboard.

I couldn't help but to take a second to think, man, our starting pitching really is effing good. Even when they're not at their best, they're still good enough to keep the offense within striking distance damn near every night.

And, it looks like the offense is coming back to form too. In his much more insightful recap of last night's action, Jim Salisbury begins by saying the Phils will soon have some decisions to make. Shane Victorino is in rehab action tonight, and his return to the lineup will cause a bit of a Karl Hungus in the outfield.

Dom Brown made his case for remaining in the bigs last night, knocking two late hits after coming off the bench. He didn't start because Mets starter Chris Capuano is a lefty, but being able to come up clutch against relievers on his off-platoon nights is exactly what the Phils need to see for Brown to stay up.

Jimmy was the catalyst though, seemingly on camera every other time I looked up. With a pair of hits and three RBI, Rollins had his fourth multi-hit game in his past six starts.

There were some bloopers in the field (3 errors including a JRoll-Chase collision and a pickoff throw that went into CF) and the Phils' bullpen leaked a little (in retrospect this may have been my reason for my moving from Braumeister Pils and Throwback Lager to my hoppy place—Hop Devil on hand-pulled), the bats bailed them out. Michael Stutes had a rough inning, walking a batter and giving up a run on two hits, and Ryan Madson had a Lidge-like save, allowing a run on three hits before closing it out.

The greatest part of the night for me was seeing K-Rod finally wilt to the Phils. Jason Isringhausen blew it first in the eighth (definitely check out Sully's discussion on the Phils strategy with Izzy on the mound, worth its click in gold), but Rodriguez was tagged for three runs on five hits in the ninth. Well in the bag at this point, it was as if the baseball and beer gods were also Phillies fans.  

No brewery tour stops tonight, but the fridge is stocked with some Troegs Sunshine Pils and Dogfish Head 60 Minute for the Union-Toronto FC match, followed by the Champions League Final, and the Phils-Mets in the evening.

Photo: Andrew B. Fielding-US PRESSWIRE

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova (8-0) at La Salle (4-2) 
7 p.m. at The Palestra

Villanova, now the top-ranked team in the country, travels to the Palestra on Tuesday night for another Big 5 game, this one against La Salle (the home team), which has won three straight games.

Let's get you ready for the matchup:

Last time out
La Salle beat Bucknell, 83-73, on Saturday.

Villanova won, 88-47, over Saint Joseph’s.

Scouting report
Villanova, which is undefeated, has become the No. 1 team in the country after beating St. Joe’s handily on Saturday. Josh Hart, who had a triple-double in the game, has been a major reason for the Wildcats' success so far this season. The senior is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. 

La Salle has won three games in a row after losing at the buzzer to Texas Southern on its homecoming game. Against Bucknell, Jordan Price had 20 points, while B.J. Johnson had 22. Johnson, a transfer from Syracuse, leads the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game.

What it means
Villanova is the best in the country right now, and it moved up to No. 1 after Kentucky lost to UCLA. Another win will give the Wildcats good momentum heading into their Saturday matchup with No. 23 Notre Dame. A victory would also extend Villanova's all-time record Big 5 winning streak to 16 games.

La Salle head coach John Gianinni could potentially be on the hot seat if the Explorers suffer another poor season. A win against the defending national champions would alleviate any chatter about his status.

Series history
This is the first and only time the Big 5 rivals will meet this season. Jay Wright is 13-2 all-time against the Explorers, and his group blew them out last season, 76-47.

What’s next?
La Salle will head to Miami for the Hoophall Miami Invitational to take on Georgetown this Saturday at the American Airlines Arena.

Villanova travels to Newark, New Jersey, to meet No. 23 Notre Dame at the Prudential Center.

Doug Pederson doesn't think 2016 struggles will ruin Carson Wentz in long term

Doug Pederson doesn't think 2016 struggles will ruin Carson Wentz in long term

In his first month in the NFL, Carson Wentz's trophy case was filling up quickly. 

He won two NFL Rookie of the Week awards to go along with being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 3 and the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month for September. 

It's hard to believe all of that happened this year. 

Since September, the Eagles have gone 2-7 and Wentz has looked like a rookie. Sure, the Eagles have some major deficiencies on offense that haven't made his life any easier, but it's no longer possible to simply overlook the regression of the No. 2 overall pick. 

Could this tough stretch negatively affect Wentz long term?  

"I don't think it's going to affect Carson going forward," head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. "I just don't think it's going to affect him at all, because he's really a pro's pro and he's learning how to handle adversity for the first time, probably, in his career. It's something that we get to the OTAs and we get a full offseason in and we just continue to work on it."

It's fair to say the 2016 season was probably never really about this year and making the playoffs. It's clear the more important thing is to develop Wentz into the franchise quarterback they drafted him to be. But the one thing the team probably didn't want to see was regression. It seems like that's what has happened. 

In the first four games of the season, Wentz had a passer rating over 100 three times and hasn't done it since then. Take a look at the difference in the first quarter of his season compared to the next two. 

First four games: Completion percentage of 67 percent, 7 touchdowns, 1 interception, passer rating of 103.5. 

Next eight: Completion percentage of 61 percent, 5 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, passer rating of 70.1. 

The Eagles will enter their final quarter of the season when they host Washington on Sunday. The best way to avoid any long-term issues stemming from a tough rookie season is to end on a stronger note. 

"Well, you avoid it by trying to win a football game, and you try to win as many as you can now with these last four that we've got," Pederson said. "If you're looking towards next season, you always want to go out with a bang and try to win as many as you can down the stretch."

Way back in training camp, the plan was for 2016 to be a redshirt year for Wentz. He was supposed to sit behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, but Bradford was traded and the Eagles elected to start their prized quarterback from the onset. 

Wentz went from a redshirt season to being on pace to throw 603 passes, which would shatter the Eagles' record for a single season. 

"These are some of the decisions that I made back when the trade was made that if there was going to be some growing pains, these were going to be some of the pains we were going to have to go through," Pederson said. "And just him understanding and him learning and us growing together as an offense, he and I growing as coach and quarterback together, it's all part of the process."

Wentz and Pederson seemingly had a disagreement after Sunday's game, when Pederson attributed Wentz's struggles to mechanical problems, while Wentz denied that was the case. Pederson held firm to his belief that those mechanical issues can be corrected and it's probable Wentz spoke out of frustration on Sunday night. 

If Wentz is frustrated, it would be understandable. It hasn't been an easy couple of months. 

"I see him handling it well," Pederson said. "These are discussions that we will have, myself, [Eagles offensive coordinator] Frank [Reich], Carson [Wentz], as we talk to him, because we've played obviously at this level, and my experience, even in this city playing and knowing what that's all about, we can really help him. It’s our job to help him and make sure that he stays on track and stays focused and he doesn't get derailed by anything that's coming from the outside."