Cards Sweep Phils: That's Gotta Be It, Right?

Cards Sweep Phils: That's Gotta Be It, Right?

So the St. Louis Cardinals just won all three games of their home series against the Philadelphia Phillies, bringing the Fightins' post All-Star record to 1-5. That one win, the superfun 13-8 Mets blowout in Citi Field that wasn't even as close as the final score indicates, indeed feels very long ago now as the Phils have lost all five since, with only that first loss against NY even really being close. I'm pretty sure the Phils never led in this St. Louis series, though I'm too depressed to check the box scores again to verify. In any event, they never seemed like they were going to win, and only sporadically seemed like they might have a chance. Fun to watch, this week has not been.

The five straight L's drop the Phils to a lackluster 49-53. Because the Braves and Nats have been nearly as crappy since the break, Philly is still tied with the latter for second place and just eight behind the former, and still a within-reach-ish nine out of the Wild Card, with the Reds 14 games over .500 in third in the Central. However, the good times should continue to roll for the Phils through the weekend, as they travel to Detroit to face the AL Central-leading Tigers, whose run differential is currently +161 on the Fightins. Objects in the NL leaders' rearview mirrors may be further than they appear.

So...that's probably it for this bunch, right? The trade deadline is less than a week away, and if RubeJun was leaning towards selling already (careful on that bannister, RAJ!), it's hard to imagine the last few games made him re-evaluate the strength of his position much. Five days and change might not be enough to engineer a full-on fire sale, but a couple familiar names seem likely to be on the move--take your pick from Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Michael Young, Jimmy Rollins, and possibly even Cliff Lee and Chase Utley. Mailing addresses aplenty will soon need updating.

At the very least, it seems all but impossible that Ruben will deign to try to bolster this bunch at the expense of our already thin farm system--when you're four games under .500 and advanced stats say you should be way worse than even that, Alex Rios isn't going to be the difference-maker between playing in October and getting to work early on your Halloween costumes. And that's fine--I think most of us knew it was going to take a whole lot of luck for this team to even have a shot at making the playoffs, and if we were gonna be that lucky, we probably woulda knowed it by now. The '13 Phils are not exactly a squad that screams "Team of Destiny."

All that's left, then, is seeing whether Amaro opts for a second straight partial, bet-hedging rebuild, selling off Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz for scraps, or if he unloads completely, sending Chase and Cliff on their merry as well and maybe getting a blue-chipper or two in return. I'm still torn about what I want in that respect, but I do definitely know that I would like to never see Laynce Nix get two starts in a row for this team again--no amount of rebuilding should ever be able to justify that. Let's put that at the top of the To Do list, huh, RAJ? Just because we're bereaved doesn't make us saps.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).