Game Chat: Phils Turn to Blanton Tonight to Secure Series Win Over Mets

Game Chat: Phils Turn to Blanton Tonight to Secure Series Win Over Mets

As a fan base reacts to the Phillies losing Roy Halladay for at least 6-8 weeks, the game goes on this evening as the Fightins take on the New York Mets in the second of three at Citi Field.

The offense got an injection of Ty Wigginton in yesterday's 8-4 victory and hope the career day (6 RBI!) can spark Wiggy's bat to stay hot just in time for Hitting Weather™. He'll bat cleanup tonight.

It'll be Joe Blanton (2-2, 4.55) going up against right-hander Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 6.17) this evening in Queens.

Blanton is coming off an ugly no-decision in his last start in which he lasted only 4.1 innings and got beat around for 7 earned on 10 hits. That was the wild contest in which the Phillies beat the Cardinals 10-9. His ERA has jumped from 2.96 to 4.55 over his last two starts and he's been giving up the long ball at an alarming rate.

It'll be just the second MLB start for Mets RHP Hefner, who got shelled in his first go around on May 24 against the Padres at Citi.

Carlos Ruiz is not in the lineup this evening after being evaluated in Philadelphia on Tuesday as well. According to David Hale, Chooch has a mild hamstring strain but is available to pinch hit this evening.

Charlie's lineup this evening: 1. Rollins, 2. Pierre, 3. Pence, 4. Wigginton (BEAST), 5. Victorino, 6. Polanco, 7. Galvis, 8. Schneider, 9. Blanton.

7:10 start from Flushing.

*

Some levity in the Halladay situation:

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."