Hide the Lefties: Ryan Howard, Dom Brown Sitting as Phillies Go for Sweep

Hide the Lefties: Ryan Howard, Dom Brown Sitting as Phillies Go for Sweep

It might seem like an inopportune time for Charlie Manuel to give Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown the day off. Between the two of them, they’ve swatted six home runs in the month of May already. With that in mind – not to mention the Phillies are going for a sweep of the reigning World Series Champions this afternoon – you might think their names would be on the lineup card.

With Barry Zito taking the hill for the Giants though, Manuel opted to stash Howard and Brown in the cupboard instead. The 34 year old and his notorious curveball are tough on lefties, to which The Big Piece can attest. Howard has stood in the box 11 times against Zito, going 1 for 10 with five strikeouts. Brown has never faced Zito, and clearly today is not the day for that experiment.

It’s not an unusual strategy. Zito has pitched to nearly four times as many right-handed batters than left over his 14-year career. From the Phillies’ vantage point, Brown hasn’t exactly raked against left-handed pitching this season (his OBP is 50 points lower), and surprise, Howard is really struggling versus southpaws with a .194 average.

So if the Phils are going to get it done today, it will be with something of an unusual configuration. The only lefties in the order are Chase Utley batting cleanup – 7 for 17 with four extra base hits and 3 runs batted in lifetime against Zito – and Ben Revere, who no doubt is mostly in there for his defense.

Meanwhile, this will be yet another big test for young Jonathan Pettibone making his fourth big-league start. San Francisco’s lineup is tough, and the pressure is really on the rookie with the news Roy Halladay will be out of action for several months at least. Pettibone has done well thus far, producing a 2-0 record with a 3.24 ERA, but we’re all sort of waiting for that first trip where the kid gets roughed up.

Not today, we hope. The Phillies have been enjoying a nice series in the bay area, and taking three in a row off of the Giants would be a huge step for the club as they try to climb back to the elusive .500 mark.

 

Nerlens Noel on Sixers' frontcourt logjam: 'I don't see a way it can work'

Nerlens Noel on Sixers' frontcourt logjam: 'I don't see a way it can work'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Nerlens Noel is standing his ground.

After saying that the Sixers' entering the season with three starting-caliber centers (himself, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid) "doesn't make sense," Noel didn't back down from his stance during the team's annual media day.  

"I don't see a way it can work," Noel said Monday. "It's just a logjam. You have three young, talented centers that can play 30-plus minutes a night." 

The Sixers attempted to play with two bigs in Noel and Okafor last season but had little success. Now that Embiid is finally healthy, the fit to the puzzle doesn't figure to get any better.

Reports swirled during the offseason that the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor to add backcourt help to the woeful franchise, but nothing came to fruition.

"Things need to get situated," Noel said. "I think things obviously need to be moved around, someone needs to be moved around. It's just a tough situation. I can't really say too much because I have no say in the matter, so obviously that's for who can handle the situation in the right manner.

"I've gone through a whole lot. Probably the most, arguably, that any player has gone through in the NBA in losing. It's a tough situation to still be in. Year by year, to see things get more difficult to show your value. Year by year, it's always been something. It's really at a point where it's just a lot."

Bryan Colangelo said he understands Noel's viewpoint. However, the Sixers' president said he is in no rush to trade any of the centers and will wait the situation out.

"It’s not disappointing. It’s understandable," Colangelo said. "I think Nerlens actually did a pretty good job sizing up what we have, which is a lot of depth and a lot of talent at that position."

Despite each of the three centers being early in their career, Noel, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't want to hold off to see if the trio can actually mesh on the floor.

"I can't say I do really understand that (wait-and-see approach)," Noel said. "If you have a group of players, I just don't think it makes too much sense to just still come into the season with such a heavy lineup at the center position. I don't know what there is to wait and see."

Noel made sure to express that he has no issues with Okafor and Embiid and said they are some of his closest friends on the team. But when asked whether he was happy to be a Sixer, Noel deflected.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm all right, I'm in a good place right now."

Sure sounds like it.

Darren Sproles' TD from Wentz set to Sonic the Hedgehog music

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Darren Sproles' TD from Wentz set to Sonic the Hedgehog music

You may fondly remember the time Darren Sproles took a punt return to the house last season and a wonderful Twitter user set the video to the Super Mario Bros.' star music, yes?

It was great.

Now that Sproles' put on the jets again yesterday in the Eagles win over the Steelers, the same @pacdude on Twitter has done it again.

This time it's the theme music from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Please enjoy.