Chooch Posts 7 RBI, But Phils Fall in Painful Extras

Chooch Posts 7 RBI, But Phils Fall in Painful Extras

Probably not the best way to start a Thursday morning, but who wants to take a quick look at just a few of the more painful elements from last night's 15-13 Phillies loss in Atlanta?
After being given a lately unheard of 6-0 lead, Roy Halladay surrendered six runs in the fifth inning thanks to a Brian McCann grand slam, and two more in the sixth. The thrill of run support and the agony of an ace in distress…
Seven RBIs by Carlos Ruiz, one shy of a club record for all players and a new mark for Phillies catchers, went to waste. His pair of doubles and a bat-flipping bomb to left all came before the game went to extras. Ruiz's season line swung up to .329/.363/.575/.938; 4 HR, 17 RBI. How Chooch is it to swing the bat like that on a night when his pitcher clearly labored?
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. 
Jimmy Rollins committed a costly error what could have been a double play in the eighth, but bullpen management will be a hot-button after Charlie opted not to go with Jonathan Papelbon, who would have been pitching in a third consecutive game. Michael Schwimer relieved Jose Contreras with the bases loaded and one out with a three-run lead, then walked Michael Bourn on four pitches, allowed a two-run single to Martin Prado, and a sac fly to Freddie Freeman. More from Crashburn Alley on the bullpen decisions here. 
And yet, the Phils weren't done. Entering the ninth down 13-12 with All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel on the mound for the Braves, they dinked the tying run after Juan Pierre walked, stole second, advanced to third on a Polly groundout to short, and scored on a long infield single by Shane Victorino up the middle. 
But the blast that hurt the most on the night came off the bat of one Mr. Larry Wayne Jones. With the Delaware Valley either in bed, hanging on for "one more inning," or wired with Phils-Related Insomnia, Chipper went deep in the bottom of the 11th. One last F You Trot to the Phillies? God I hope so. 
More from Jim Salisbury here. 
Luckily we don't have to wait long to put that one away. The teams meet again today just after noon. Hope Joe Blanton is ready to go deep into this one.  
Two questions: Would you have used Papelbon in the eighth?
Are you worried about Halladay?

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Some notes and keys ahead of Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:

• Since throwing for 301 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 3, Carson Wentz's aerial numbers have declined — 238 yards in Detroit, 179 in Washington and 138 vs. Minnesota.

• Even though he missed two games with an injury, I still can't understand how Zach Ertz has been targeted only 16 times in four games this season.

• Dallas WR Cole Beasley is arguably the best slot receiver in the game right now. Last November against the Eagles, he had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. With the Eagles' best slot cornerback, Ron Brooks, out for the year with a ruptured quad tendon, Malcolm Jenkins will have his hands full trying to keep up with Beasley in the slot.

• Eagles and Cowboys defensive backs beware: Jerome Boger's crew is officiating this game. This season, Boger's crew has called 36 penalties for defensive pass interference, illegal contact or defensive holding.

• The Eagles' 20 sacks ties them for third-most in the league. Dallas has allowed just nine, second-fewest in the NFL.

• Does Doug Pederson still have faith in RB Ryan Mathews late in games? Mathews has fumbled with less than five minutes left in two of the last three games. The head coach says he has not lost faith in Mathews, and Mathews says he'll stop fighting for more yards late in games. Time will tell.

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

Doug Pederson said this week he’s so concerned about Ryan Mathews’ late-game fumbling problem that he’ll consider using a different running back in crucial late-game situations (see story).

If Mathews is concerned about it, he’s not letting on.

“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” he said at his locker on Thursday. “Worrying about stuff like that just causes more stress.

“I can’t control any of that. The only thing I can control is trying to give him 100 percent every time I touch the ball and trying to get better.”

Mathews likely cost the Eagles a win over the Lions with his late fumble in Detroit three weeks ago. Last week, he lost another fumble in the final minutes of the Eagles’ win over the Vikings.

He’s the first back with two fumbles in the final five minutes of two games in the same season since Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants in 2010.

He has single-handedly accounted for two of the three fumbles by NFL running backs in the last five minutes of games this year.

Pederson on Wednesday said, “By no means am I down on Ryan,” but also said he would consider using Wendell Smallwood or Darren Sproles in late-game situations moving forward.

Mathews is averaging 3.9 yards per carry on a team-high 11 carries per game.

He said Thursday he has to learn not to fight for extra yards when the situation calls mainly for ball protection.

“You can’t fight for more yards, you’ve just got to go down,” he said. “Don’t put the ball on the ground.

“There’s no secret cure or anything like that. You’ve just got to get what you can get and get down. You can’t really fight for more yards like that.”

Mathews said it’s difficult for him to ramp down his natural aggressiveness in situations that call for him to be more conservative and protect the ball instead of trying to fight for extra yards.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I’m not the one to really shy away from not going down on first contact. But situations like that, you’ve just got to be more aware.”

Sproles (4.6 average on 31 carries), Smallwood (4.1 average on 28 carries) and Kenjon Barner (5.8 average on 16 carries) all have higher rushing averages than Mathews.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he’s not concerned about Mathews and said his confidence in the 29-year-old former Pro Bowler hasn’t waned.

“I love our guys,” Reich said. “I wouldn't trade our guys for anybody. We use a word around here a lot, and I know sometimes it gets thrown around, but it's family.

“You know, not every family's perfect, and we all make mistakes, but when we put guys out on the field (we’re confident in them). I can't play like that. I can't coach like that. You've got to have confidence.

“Now with coaches, it’s a business and coaches make decisions based on things. And when those decisions get made, they get made. But when a guy is in the game, we have to play with confidence and we have to coach with confidence and I don't see any other way to do it.”