Dom Brown Delivers With Ninth-Inning Walkoff, Makes Jonathan Papelbon Very Happy

Dom Brown Delivers With Ninth-Inning Walkoff, Makes Jonathan Papelbon Very Happy

This one had "bummer" written all over it. The Phillies scrapped to a 4-2 lead through five, and Antonio Bastardo cleaned up a Mike Adams-induced eighth inning jam to get the ball to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th with a one-run lead still in tact. Pap's perfect season looked to remain in tact with an easy first two outs and an 0-2 count on Nats pinch-hitter Chad Tracy, a .141 hitter to that point. But wouldn't you know it? That darned Tracy clocked a fly ball just over the wall in right, and Pap had his first blown save of the season, another back-breaker in a recent stretch of tough baseball for the Philly Phaithful.

However, a leadoff hit from Ben Revere in the bottom of the ninth, and a well-executed hit-and-run on a Jimmy Rollins single, and suddenly the Phils had a chance to let Papelbon off the hook. Domonic Brown would do just that, delivering a base knock up the middle with two outs to score Revere, and getting Pap his first W--his first decision of any kind, actually--on the season. Final score: Phils 5, Nats 4.

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Though the shaky bullpen work robbed him of his first win in a Phillies uniform, John Lannan overcame a shaky start to give the Phils five solid innings of work, allowing just two runs on six innings and a walk--about as good an outing as we could expect from our fifth (sixth?) starter against his old ballclub in his first game since going down with a knee injury. Michael Stutes held down the fort with two innings of spotless work, before Adams and Papelbon gummed up the works late.

The real heroics of the night came on the other side of the ball, particularly from the aforementioned Revere and the forever-streaky Ryan Howard. Ben Revere is in the midst of easily the best stretch of his thusfar shaky debut season for the Phils, going 2-5 tonight with a steal and the game-winning run, stretching his hit streak to eight games, double the length of any other such streak he's had as a Phillie. As a leadoff guy who doesn't walk much and basically hits for zero power, Revere has to at least hit near .300 to be any kind of useful to the club, so it's encouraging to see him at least get up into the mid-.270s after spending much of the season struggling to even get to the quarter mark.

Howard was undoubtedly player of the game, however, going 3-3 with a walk and a homer--his first for the month of June, somewhat depressingly. Though Howard's power has been disturbingly sapped of late, he's still seeing the ball remarkably well, hitting .346 for the month with nine walks, after hitting just .254 with ten walks total for the season before June. He may not ever be the home-run masher that he was in the late '00s again, but as long as he's squaring up the ball this consistently, drawing walks and not striking out too much (under one K a game for the month, no small feat for Ryno), he can still be a net positive for the team offensively.

And while you might not say Dom busted out of his mini-slump this game--any game where he doesn't homer is still something of a subconscious disappointment at this point--he certainly had his most productive outing in a while. After going seven games without collecting multiple hits, Dom went 2-4 tonight with another walk--his ninth this month, after going all of May without a BB--including the game-winning hit. He did have a rough bases-loaded punchout in the third inning, which ended in the ugliest swing-and-miss third strike we've seen from the Domonator since his hot streak commenced last month, but it's still mostly good swings for Dom, and hey, any night at the plate that ends with you being tackled by Jon Papelbon and whip-creamed by Freddy Galvis is a pretty good night.

One final note on this one: Charlie Manuel again substituted Michael Martinez for Ryan Howard on the basepaths late in this one, with Howard on second with no outs and a 4-3 lead, and it again came back to bite the Phils as Martinez was left stranded at second, and Howard's batting spot came up in a critical moment in the ninth, with Charlie forced to go with the super-sparingly-used reserve Steve Lerud at the plate, rather than the guy who went 3-3 with a homer and a walk in his first four PAs. Lerud quickly whiffed, failing to cash in Ben Revere from third, and Dom was left to save the day with two outs. I understand why Charlie goes with those late-game substitutions, but I never like it, and hopefully another night like tonight will convince him that the risk really outweighs the reward when it comes to pinch-running for your big bats late in the game.

Anyway, a good early blow for the Phils in this NL East three-gamer, bringing the Phils back within a game of Washington for second in the division. Cliff Lee takes the hill tomorrow night against Ross Detwiler with a chance to pull the Phils to even--though I doubt many would have guessed at season's start that the two teams would be vying for second in the East with a couple of sub-.500 records. We'd take it for now, anyway.

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NFL Notes: Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles awarded Super Bowls

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NFL Notes: Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles awarded Super Bowls

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you spend billions of dollars to build it, they will come.

Three times over.

The NFL awarded Super Bowls to Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles, three cities that made significant financial investments in new stadiums or recently upgraded an existing one. Atlanta will host the game in 2019, followed by Miami (2020) and Los Angeles (2021), it was announced Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings.

"I think if they find guys like me that are willing to do it, I think they want to show them that it is worthwhile," Rams owner Stan Kroenke said.

Atlanta will host its third Super Bowl, but the first at its new $1.4 billion stadium which opens in 2017. The previous two were at the Georgia Dome.

Miami will have its record-setting 11th Super Bowl following a $450 million stadium renovation.

Los Angeles, which gets the relocated Rams this season, has not had a Super Bowl in the area since 1993 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The game will be played at the new $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood, California, which opens in 2019.

Tampa Bay and New Orleans were also in the running to host a Super Bowl (see full story).

Steelers: Bell believes Bengals targeted him
PITTSBURGH -- Le'Veon Bell considers the first injury of his NFL career -- a sprained foot in a preseason game three years ago -- a freak accident.

The last two? Not so much.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back took the field with his teammates Tuesday for the first time since tearing the MCL in his right knee last November against Cincinnati. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict twisted Bell awkwardly as the two tumbled out of bounds just a few yards away from where Bell's 2014 season ended after taking a shot to the same knee from Cincinnati's Reggie Nelson.

Burfict celebrated openly as Bell writhed in pain, a memory that lingers even after Burfict reached out on social media in March to express support as Bell worked his way through rehab.

"Obviously it looked like they were happy about it," Bell said. "I'll take the liberty of just thinking everybody plays just football to love the game. But people aren't out here playing like that. People are playing to take people out. Obviously I know that now" (see full story).

Cardinals: Fitzgerald not thinking beyond this season
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald has been an Arizona Cardinal all 12 of his NFL seasons, breaking every franchise receiving record along the way.

Now, he enters the final year of a two-year, $22 million contract, and he said Tuesday that he doesn't even think about whether he will play football beyond this season, with the Cardinals or anyone else.

"We're just in OTAs right now, man," he said. "We've got training camp and minicamp and the regular season. We've got a long ways to go before that's even a point of discussion. So I'm enjoying this. I'm trying to make it the best year yet."

Fitzgerald will turn 33 before next season begins. And last season proved he remains one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL.

"I think Larry has a lot of tread left on the tire," Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. "Obviously he's in the last year of his deal. That's out of my pay scale. But obviously I think he's still got juice in the system" (see full story).

Report: Sixers attend New York workout for Ingram, Murray, Maker

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Report: Sixers attend New York workout for Ingram, Murray, Maker

The Sixers are taking their talent evaluation on the road.

On Tuesday, members of the front office attended a workout for Excel Sports Management in New York, which included Brandon Ingram, the projected No. 1 or No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, Jamal Murray, a projected lottery pick, and Thon Maker, according to the Inquirer.

The Sixers have held two workouts at their own facility, and it is common for teams to attend organized workouts for higher-rated prospects. Head coach Brett Brown, managing owner Josh Harris and vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley traveled to the session, but president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was in Toronto for his son's high school graduation, according to the report.

The Sixers hold the first, 24th and 26th picks in the upcoming draft. The decision between one and two is widely considered to be between Ingram and Ben Simmons (see story). The Sixers have the assets on their roster to move up from Nos. 24 and 26 through a trade, which makes scouting prospects outside of the top two an integral part to their evaluation.

The team has worked out 12 players in Philadelphia and will continue to do so up until the draft on June 23. 

10 observations from Eagles OTA practice Tuesday

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10 observations from Eagles OTA practice Tuesday

Finally some nice weather.

The Eagles began their second round of OTAs on Tuesday under the beaming sun, in near-80 degree temperatures. That’s a departure from the first day of rookie camp and the first day of last week’s OTAs, which both brought rain.

So without the confinements of the practice bubble and without a slick football, we got a chance to see the 2016 Eagles in desirable conditions Tuesday.

Here are 10 observations from Tuesday’s practice:

1. Overall, a pretty sloppy day for the defense. As soon as the team portion of the practice began, Sam Bradford got the defensive line to jump about three times in the first several plays of practice. Late in the practice, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had enough and ripped into a second-year defensive back.

During his nearly 30-minute press conference after practice, Schwartz was asked about his past experience grooming a first-round quarterback (Matthew Stafford), but said he doesn’t have much time to worry about Carson Wentz.

“We’ve got enough worries on defense right now,” he said.

2. If you’re looking for a bright spot on defense, we’ll offer up rookie defensive back Jalen Mills. On Tuesday, Mills got a chance to work against the first-team offense in the Nickel package. When Mills came on the field, Ron Brooks moved inside, while Leodis McKelvin remained outside.

Mills made the defensive play of the day, when he got in between Jordan Matthews and a deep sideline pass.

“He’s been impressive so far,” Schwartz said of the seventh-rounder Mills. “But we haven’t even really started yet, to tell you the truth.”

Schwartz said the team wanted to see how Mills would look going against veterans; before Tuesday, he had mostly been going against rookies.

“We don’t have a depth chart right now,” Schwartz cautioned.

While those three worked with the first team on Tuesday, there could be different players there Wednesday. And Nolan Carroll, who’s still recovering, isn’t yet able to do team drills.

3. Rueben Randle (gallbladder surgery) and Ryan Mathews (illness) both missed practice on Tuesday, which gave some other guys more reps.

At running back, it meant Kenjon Barner worked with the first team, while rookie fifth-rounder Wendell Smallwood worked with the twos. With Mathews out and with Darren Sproles still away, the team had just three running backs suited up on Tuesday. Barner looked pretty good with the first team on Tuesday.

The starting widouts were Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and Jordan Matthews. When all three were on the field, Matthews was mostly in the slot. But one guy who did a lot with his reps on Tuesday was free-agent signing Chris Givens. Now, obviously, these guys are still in shorts, but Givens showed off his speed and hands. He’s making a push for the roster as the last receiver to make the team.

4. Fletcher Cox is still not with the team (see story). Last week, during the open practice, Taylor Hart worked next to Bennie Logan in his spot. Tuesday, it was free-agent pickup Mike Martin.

“I’ve been working with them,” Martin said after practice. “We’ve been switching and working both sides. But it’s a great advantage to be able to work with the first-team guys and get those reps.”

5. You’re probably wondering how Wentz looked. He again showed off his strong arm on Tuesday, while working with the threes. Overall, he probably had the best day of the quarterbacks.

He delivered a perfect 25-yard sideline pass to Givens over the shoulder. On another play, he tripped over his offensive lineman’s foot, but was still able to complete an out to Trey Burton while falling. That’s all arm strength, because he couldn’t use his legs to complete the pass.

The one thing we have seen a couple times from Wentz is this: he has a strong arm, but sometimes he has overthrown his targets. Nothing major yet, but something to keep an eye on.

6. Jordan Hicks was back at MIKE with the defense during Tuesday’s team portion of practice, which is a good sign for a team that’s relying on him heavily. Last Tuesday, he was held out with some tightness in his legs.

While Hicks has been playing the middle linebacker spot, Schwartz talked about the versatility of that group.

“All of those guys are pretty much interchangeable, and you have to be now,” Schwartz said.

7. Last Tuesday, head coach Doug Pederson said Cody Parkey wouldn’t be a full-go until perhaps training camp, but the kicker was hitting field goals on Tuesday and looked pretty good.

He did miss about a 43-yarder, but he still has a really good shot to make the team over Caleb Sturgis, who did a nice job filling in last season. It’s not definitely Parkey’s job yet, though. Sturgis looked good Tuesday and that’ll definitely be a competition to watch come training camp.

8. Donnie Jones is the only punter left in the building after the team cut Ryan Quigley earlier this week.

Jones celebrated by booming several punts on Tuesday. He’s still pretty good.

9. Burton has been moving around the field quite a bit in the early going. He’s been lining up on the line as a tight end, in the backfield as a fullback and in the slot as a receiver. It’s pretty clear that in some packages, Pederson and the offense will have a fullback of some kind.

Come training camp, when the hitting begins, Burton will really need to show he can handle that role.

10. Perhaps the most notable change in practice under Pederson, as opposed to Chip Kelly, comes in the form of pace. Under Kelly, the emphasis was on running as many plays as possible in the time allotted, which meant correcting mistakes after practice.

“His approach was to get no-huddle,” left guard Allen Barbre said of Kelly (more on Barbre). “If you stop to correct it all the time, you wouldn’t be getting a no-huddle practice.”

Under Pederson, there’s much more on-field teaching during practice. At one point on Tuesday, Pederson actually stopped the practice, taught technique and made them run it again. Under Kelly, the offense would have been five plays down the line.