Doc Loses One in the Ninth

Doc Loses One in the Ninth

In his defense, Charlie Manuel was faced with a difficult decision. With runners on first and second with nobody out in the ninth, he could go to his choice of an arm out of the bullpen, or stick with the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner to face Lyle Overbay.

Manuel stuck with the guy who already pitched six complete games this season, and leads Major League Baseball in that category for the fifth consecutive year. On this occasion, it wasn't meant to be. Diamondbacks first baseman Lyle Overbay, who had driven in the club's only run to that point, doubled into the gap in deep right, bringing home the decisive runs to give Arizona the 3-2 victory.

It was their 35th come-from-behind victory in 2011.

Overbay had experienced success against Roy Halladay in the past, batting a solid .300 in 10 career at bats. He raised that lifetime a few points tonight, going three-for-four en route to dropping Doc to 15-5 for the season. Overbay's first RBI came earlier in the second inning, singling after center fielder Chris Young stole second base.

The Phils later took the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Jimmy Rollins singled to right, setting up a Shane Victorino blast that just cleared the fence in right, number 13 for the season. Dbacks rookie Josh Collmenter was pretty sharp however, allowing two earned and striking out eight through 6.2, while the bullpen held the Fightins scoreless.

But ultimately, the game came down to whether or not the manager should pull Halladay with runners on in the ninth. We tend to think you can't go wrong when Roy is on the hill, and he had been cruising up to that point, retiring 12 straight heading into the ninth. He also struck out 14, tying a season high.

Hey, as we pointed out earlier, the Diamondbacks are tough, and perfectly capable of playing the foil to the Phils. You're officially on notice.

Roy Halladay's First Extra Base Hit
Ever. EVER. And it was a thing of beauty, one of two hits on the night.

Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Halladay drove a 3-2 pitch deep to right field, so deep he actually appeared to freeze up a little before busting it down the line. The ball sailed over a stunned Justin Upton, landing at the base of the wall, just out feet away from the fans' reach. Halladay coasted safely into second for the stand-up double. Some shrewd base running got him to third base with one out, where he finished a number on the left-on-base column.

If either Victorino been able to smack a fly ball, or Chase Utley a base hit, maybe this game would have wound up in a different result, or at least extra innings.

Aside from the meaningful action, there was a scary, painful-even-though-it's-not-you moment in the top of the sixth. While in his crouch behind home plate, Carlos Ruiz took a foul ball right to the groin, which resulted in exactly the sort of reaction that specific pain elicits. After visits from both the trainer and Charlie Manuel, Chooch eventually got to his feet to huge ovation from the crowd, and unpleasant as it must've been, got himself back into the game.

That man is a legend.

No. 24 Penn State at Purdue: Nittany Lions seek first road win

No. 24 Penn State at Purdue: Nittany Lions seek first road win

Penn State (5-2, 3-1) vs. Purdue (3-4, 1-3)
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.
Saturday, noon, ABC/ESPN2

Scouting Penn State
The Lions (5-2) upended the Buckeyes, 24-21, when safety Marcus Allen blocked a field goal and cornerback Grant Haley returned it 60 yards for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the game. The Lions, who rallied from a 21-7 deficit after three quarters, earned their third straight victory.

Allen and Haley were named Big Ten co-Special Teams Players of the week, and linebacker Brandon Bell, who had a career-high 19 tackles in the game, earned the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Running back Saquon Barkley has rushed for 681 yards, fifth-most in the Big Ten, and is tied for the conference lead in touchdowns with nine.

Scouting Purdue
Purdue (3-4) fell to Nebraska last week in the debut of Boilermakers interim coach Gerad Parker, who replaced the fired Darrell Hazell on Oct. 16. Quarterback David Blough leads the Big Ten in passing yardage (2,065) and total offense (300.7 yards per game), and has thrown 14 touchdown passes (albeit with 11 interceptions).

The Boilermakers are, however, last in the Big Ten in rushing offense (120.3), total defense (441.0), turnover margin (minus-8) and red-zone offense (15-for-23, 11 touchdowns) and next-to-last in rushing defense (249.0) and passing efficiency.

The Lions lead 13-3-1 and have won the last seven meetings, the most recent a 45-21 victory in 2013.

Storyline to watch
This is the ultimate trap game for PSU, and the Lions’ approach to it will say a lot about their leadership and maturity. They have also dropped their last four road games dating back to last season, including both this fall. Their last victory away from home came last Oct. 24, against Maryland in Baltimore.

What’s at stake
The Lions can become bowl-eligible with a victory.

Penn State 35, Purdue 21

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.