Fantastic Fourth: Mets Welcomed to Philly By Facing Cole Hamels

Fantastic Fourth: Mets Welcomed to Philly By Facing Cole Hamels

The New York Mets come into Philadelphia this
evening with a renewed hope of putting their laughable struggles of the
past few seasons behind them. It's Cole Hamels job to take the first
step in squashing that hope, and demonstrating the Phillies are, once
again, the team to beat the the NL East.

The Mets have made some changes in their decision makers, but the
core of their team remains very similar to the team of the past few
seasons. That said, the Phillies are not looking past the Mets this
season. Charlie Manuel even thinks they're going to surprise some
people.

"When I look at their team, their starting pitching usually pitches
pretty good against us, especially three or four of their starters. They
still have Rodriguez at the back of their bullpen," Manuel said. "If
you look at their lineup, they've got a pretty good lineup. They're
going to win more games than people think they are."

The Mets will throw their fourth starter this evening, the tall Chris
Young. That's pretty much the most noteworthy thing about Young, that
he's 6 feet, 10 inches tall.

"He's Big," Charlie Manuel said of Young. "He looks like he's
standing right up on top of you. He's not throwing the ball real hard.
But his fastball is sneaky. Sometimes he's kind of wild enough to be
real good."

He'll face the same Phillies lineup that started opening day, with
Shane Victorino back in the leadoff spot and playing center field after
getting the beginning to Sunday's game off.

The Phillies will counter the Mets fourth starter with one Colbert
Hamels. Asked if it has hit him until now that Cole Hamels is his fourth
starter, Manuel had this to say, "It's going to hit me tonight when I
get to see him."

Should finally hit the rest of us too.

7:05 scheduled start time from chilly CBP this evening.

*

Utley Jog Watch

After reports this morning that Utley will be able to start jogging any day now, Ruben Amaro Jr. says Utley is, in fact, not close to jogging.
"He is not close to jogging. If he was close to jogging he’d be
jogging, I guess. He has taken some ground balls. He’s done okay with
that so far. But it’s still baby steps."

So that's neat.

Charlie was asked about Chase's progress before the game as well.

"He's
slowly coming around. I watched him the last couple of days. He's
starting to move a little farther each day," Manuel said of  Utley
taking more grounders prior to each game over the weekend.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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