Halladay Kicks Off Wrigley Series, Plus Other Exciting Tidbits

Halladay Kicks Off Wrigley Series, Plus Other Exciting Tidbits

CHICAGO -- Phillies fans are out in force at Wrigley Field this week.

Stopping into the local drinking establishment Cubby Bear across the street prior to the game, Phils fans dominated the place. It was, however, 2:30 in the afternoon. So perhaps Philadelphians are just more into day drinking? Or unemployed/on vacation. Either way, they'll be both plentiful and vocal over the next few days in the Windy City.

Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.45) takes on former Phillie Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 4.02) in the first of the three game set.

Lopez
appeared in seven games for the Phillies in 2009 and actually made five
starts, earning three wins despite a 5.70 ERA in 30.0 innings of work. Lopez got off to a hot start to his short stint with the World Series bound Fightins, but couldn't press his luck successfully and was eventually let go to make room for one Pedro Martinez.

Roy Halladay's career with the Phillies has gone a little bit better.

Charlie Manuel's thoughts on what the team should add prior to the trade deadline as well as Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco injury updates below. Plus a Sarge Matthews sighting.

Tonight's Phillies lineup: Jimmy
Rollins, Michael Martinez, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez,
Carlos Ruiz, Dom Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Roy Hallday

Bullpen Help or a Right-handed Bat

With the trade deadline inching closer, Charlie Manuel was asked before the game whether he believed the team could use more, another reliable arm in the pen or a right-handed bat. One thing in his response was clear, if the Phils are going to add a piece, he wants it to be an upgrade.

"I think we can definitely use a reliever, I think without a doubt, but we could also use a good bat. And when I say a reliever or a bat, I'm talking about a *good* one," Manuel said. "If we can find a good bat and we don't find a good reliever, then we take the good bat. If we gonna get somebody, I want somebody good. I want somebody that is going to help us. I don't to get what we already got."

So Charlie's thinking big?

"I always think big."

Vic Update

Shane Victorino chatted before the game and says that he expects to play tomorrow but added that there will continue to be discomfort in his thumb. He says he doesn't believe it's anything that will get worse, but added that when he swings the bat, particularly left-handed, that getting jammed certainly can generate discomfort.

Charlie Manuel added that he'll wait and see Vic get evaluated after he took batting practice and worked out this evening before making any decisions on whether Shane will be activated for tomorrow.

Shane, talking about the infamous beer throwing incident from 2009 at Wrigley, joked before the game about wearing a beer helmet out to the outfield this week.

Polly Outlook Not As Promising

Placido Polanco is not progressing as quickly, and will likely need a cortisone shot in his back. Jim Salisbury has more on that.

*

Here's a random shot of Sarge Matthews this afternoon in Chicago. He just happened to be walking by as I was trying to take a picture of the iconic Wrigley sign:

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

BOX SCORE

The moment when the ball struck first baseman Tommy Joseph’s glove for the final out of the Phillies 10-8 win over the Mets — dealing a major blow to their rival’s wild card hopes in the process — felt more like a collective exhalation than a moment of celebration (see Instant Replay).
 
Two days earlier, the bullpen faltered suddenly. A game-tying two-run homer by Jose Reyes in the ninth was the first body blow. The game-winning three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera was the knockout.
 
Saturday, the collapse occurred over the course of five innings as the Phillies let a lead that was once 10-0 slip away, one drawn-out at-bat after another.
 
Missing, of course, was the moment of impact in the proverbial slow-motion car crash, thanks to well-placed sinkers and four-seamers from Michael Mariot.
 
“The bullpen’s been sputtering,” manager Pete Mackanin said in an understatement.
 
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning with a 10-4 lead to face a string of lefties and it quickly became apparent that he did not have his fastball. A middle-in four-seamer that caught too much of the plate was slapped for a double by Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, his first major-league hit and a run. A second run scored when a little dribbler by third baseman T.J. Rivera died on the third base line, leaving Rodriguez with no play.
 
“He just didn’t throw quality strikes,” Mackanin said.
 
Even the normally-reliable Hector Neris struggled on Saturday. In his 77th outing of the season, Neris walked two straight batters and then surrendered an RBI double to Cecchini of his own which narrowed the lead to 10-7 and thrust the uncertainty of a save situation onto Mackanin.
 
Mariot was given first crack at the ninth inning one day after Mackanin said he would give Jeanmar Gomez a break from closing duties.
 
Mariot’s audition got off to a rough start. He gave up a pinch-hit solo home run to Jay Bruce — who had been mired in an 0-15 slump — with one out in the ninth and then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto after a pair of grueling at-bats that lasted a combined 18 pitches.
 
The two hitters fouled off eight of Mariot’s pitches and took several four-seamers that just missed the plate.
 
“I was pretty upset about that,” Mariot said of the four-seamers that missed. “I was hoping to get at least a swing or maybe a call on those. Talking to [catcher] A.J. [Ellis], I think he said that they missed but I was hoping at least one of them to get called a strike.”
 
Gomez was up in the Phillies’ bullpen but Mariot ensured that Mackanin wouldn’t need to throw the recently-struggling closer back into the fire in a high-stress situation.
 
Mariot was able to locate his fastball when he needed to most. He fooled Lucas Duda with a two-seamer that the slugger popped out to Freddy Galvis and got Travis D’Arnaud to ground a four-seamer outside right back to him.
 
“I just told myself: ‘keep throwing strikes and good things will happen,’” Mariot said.
 
He threw just enough strikes to ensure that the Phillies didn’t end up on the wrong end of what would have been the Mets’ biggest comeback in team history.

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

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USA Today Images

College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn was ready to try anything to get a win for his Auburn Tigers.

Malzahn relinquished offensive play-calling duties. Following his daughters' advice, he traded his usual game-day visor for a cap. And then, when the clock expired and LSU players were celebrating an apparent last-second win, the Auburn coach put all his faith in a ruling he couldn't control.

Daniel Carlson kicked six field goals and Auburn beat No. 18 LSU 18-13 on Saturday night after officials ruled Danny Etling's apparent last-gasp scoring pass came after time expired.

Malzahn said he knew there were only zeroes on the clock before the snap to Etling.

"I was pretty confident time had expired," Malzahn said. "It was just a matter of going to the booth and confirming it."

Etling rolled to his right and found D.J. Shark in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard pass, setting off a short-lived celebration by LSU players (see full recap).

Hornibrook proves he's ready in Badgers' win over Spartans
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- By the time Alex Hornibrook's first start was over, there wasn't much question about whether he could handle one of the toughest road tests in the Big Ten.

Hornibrook threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and 11th-ranked Wisconsin turned its early-season showdown with No. 8 Michigan State into a rout, beating the Spartans 30-6 on Saturday.

"You've got to have respect for a guy whose first start is against a Michigan State defense," Wisconsin running back Corey Clement said.

"He's going to come out the next game and do even better. I think he's just getting his feet wet."

The freshman quarterback outplayed fifth-year senior Tyler O'Connor, his Michigan State counterpart. The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were the better team in the first half and then outscored the Spartans 17-0 in the third quarter (see full recap).

No. 23 Rebels find their rhythm, beat No. 12 Georgia 45-14
OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly faked the handoff and then took off running toward the end zone. A few seconds and 41 yards later, the quarterback had cruised through the middle of the Georgia defense and into the end zone untouched.

It was pretty much that easy for the Rebels all afternoon. Ole Miss finally built a lead it couldn't give away.

No. 23 Ole Miss rolled to a 45-14 victory over No. 12 Georgia on Saturday, building a 31-0 lead by halftime and a 45-0 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter.

Kelly threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) broke a 10-game losing streak in the series dating to 1996 (see full recap).

Dobbs rallies No. 14 Vols to 38-28 win over No. 19 Gators
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- This time, Tennessee delivered the comeback.

And in the process, the Volunteers took out 11 years' worth of frustration on Florida.

Joshua Dobbs accounted for five second-half touchdowns Saturday and No. 14 Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 19 Florida 38-28 and end their 11-game losing streak in the annual series.

"I didn't see anybody blink," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Nobody flinched. They just kept playing."

This marks the first time Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten Florida (3-1, 1-1) since 2004. The Volunteers had lost to Florida by one point each of the last two years despite leading in the fourth quarter of both games (see full recap).