Howard's End: Phils Pick Up Second Straight Series Win on a Walkoff

Howard's End: Phils Pick Up Second Straight Series Win on a Walkoff

After dispatching the Diamondbacks 3-0 on Saturday night, the Phillies won their second straight series with a 5-4 victory on Sunday. Cliff Lee ran into some trouble with the long ball but hung in for an eight-inning no-decision, allowing eight hits while striking out five. His bats swung back for him though, and the Phils made Arizona pay for walking Chase Utley to get to Ryan Howard with the bases loaded in the ninth. 
The D-Backs got out to an early lead on back-to-back homers in the second inning, but the skies weren't falling just yet. The Phils grabbed two back in the bottom of the frame, when John Mayberry Jr walked and was moved over on a Dom Brown double. JMjr would score on a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill before Erik Kratz roped a double to the wall in left, scoring Brown. 
Lee settled in and went through the Diamondbacks' lineup in short order, sending them down 1-2-3 in three straight innings. In the bottom of the fifth, Utley tied it up on a trademark chop swing homer to right. The Phils couldn't take the lead as Howard and Mayberry each grounded out, and in the top of the sixth, Arizona struck with another home run. Lee limited the damage by inducing a double play after Justin Upton got on, then got Stephen Drew to fly out and end the threat. Neither team would reach base over the next two innings, but the Phillies weren't ready to call it a weekend. 
Down a run in the bottom of the eighth, Utley and Howard put up two quick outs before Arizona pitcher David Hernandez got into more trouble than you usually see without the ball leaving the infield. JMjr got aboard with an infield single, then reached second on another fortuitous Arizona wild pitch. Dom Brown chipped a hit back at Hernandez, who chased the ball down and hastily threw it toward first, trying to beat the hustling Brown. The ball hit Brown (no pegs!), and Mayberry charged home and "beat" a throw from first base (umps owed him one), tying things up. The rough inning wasn't over for Hernandez, who was charged with another wild pitch, advancing Brown to second. Kratz singled him to third, but Takashi Saito was able to get pinch hitter Jimmy Rollins to fly out and end the threat. 
Jonathan Papelbon entered with the game tied in the top of the ninth. Justin Upton opened the inning with a single, but Jimmy, Chase, Ryan turned a WFC double play to clear the bases on the next at bat. Papelbon then gave up a walk to Drew, who moved to second when Michael Montero reached base on an error by Howard. Fortunately, Papelbon got pinch hitter Gerardo Parra to ground out. 
Josh Collmenter came in for Arizona with Juan Pierre leading off as a pinch hitter for Papelbon. Pierre singled to center, then reached second on a Nate Schierholtz sac. Laynce Nix PH'd for Kevin Frandsen and gave Charlie Manuel his second substitute hit of the inning, singling to right and moving Pierre to third. With Nix and Pierre on, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson called for the intentional walk to Utley, loading the bags for Howard. 
Howard's afternoon at that point included a three-strikeout, 0-4 performance, an error, and some boos. He had only three hits in his previous 28 at bats. Gibson probably wouldn't want to have to make the decision he faced in the bottom of the ninth again any time soon, but if he did, he'd probably do the same thing given everything he'd seen so far. It's not an enviable position. 
With the bags loaded and the outfield deep, Howard laced a single into right, bringing Pierre home to give the Phils a win. 
There were some nervous moments, beginning with the early home run trouble for Lee, but the Phils took advantage of late miscues and misfortunes for the Diamondbacks and ultimately a huge hit by a guy who really needed to see one. 
NotesThe Phillies held a moment of silence for Garrett Reid before the game, displaying his picture on the video board.
Braves come to town next… A third straight series win won't come easy.  
Nice Mets-Phillies reference in last night's The Newsroom. U-S-A.
Unrelated but still important question: How much would you pay for a bucket of beers at the table right in front of Billy Ocean?

Eagles mailbag: Carson Wentz's skill, running backs, center spot

Eagles mailbag: Carson Wentz's skill, running backs, center spot

The NFL found a way to prevent the Eagles from winning this weekend: Don't let them play. 

Yup, the Eagles are riding high at 3-0, but an early Week 4 bye has them waiting to play again until Oct. 9 in Detroit against the Lions. 

Thanks to a hot start from rookie Carson Wentz and the defense, the Eagles have been one of the biggest surprises of the NFL so far and have Philadelphia buzzing. 

As always, thanks for your questions. We'll dive right in: 

Wentz's ability to extend plays doesn't make his receivers better, but it certainly gives them more opportunities, which is really just as good. 

This skill is something Wentz really takes pride in. He wants his receivers to know that no matter how broken the play is, it isn't dead until the whistle. In that regard, the comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers make plenty of sense. And his receivers love the idea of having extra seconds to get open. 

During the Chicago game, Wentz really showed this ability. He showed he can move around and out of the pocket while also keeping his eyes downfield. It was just a matter of time before he hit big on one of those plays. 

Sure enough, he did it in the third quarter against the Steelers. I broke down that play using the tape and it showed a unique skill set out of a quarterback (see story)

https://twitter.com/faux_micahGreg/status/781171954241851392

We had a few questions about running backs, so we'll let this one speak for them all. 

On Monday, Doug Pederson said that once Ryan Mathews ankle is completely healed, Mathews is still the lead back who will get most of the team's carries. I think Pederson means it. 

Still, Mathews has had injury problems for a long time and it looks like this year is no different. It had to be encouraging for the Eagles to see how well Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood played against the Steelers. While Mathews is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, Barner is at 6.1 and Smallwood is at 4.8. 

Sproles, who has 19 carries this year, shouldn't be getting as many carries as he has, but he's still going to get some. He's averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt.

That's a long answer to say this: For now, Mathews is the guy. But if he can't stay healthy, one of the other guys could and should earn more carries. 

https://twitter.com/ATONAMIS317/status/781174071400755200

I thought Stefen Wisniewski looked OK in camp as the primary backup at right guard. 

Sure, Jason Kelce hasn't looked like a Pro Bowler in 2016, but he might not be as bad as you think. Here's Andrew Kulp's film breakdown of Kelce from the Bears game, where to the casual observer, it looked like Kelce got worked (see story). We see Kelce looks bad when he's asked to block a nose tackle 1-on-1. That's never been his strength and never will be his strength. His strength is getting to the next level to block and use his athleticism. 

One more reason to not expect a change at center unless things start to go really bad is that Kelce has been really good for Wentz. Sure, there was a bad snap against the Steelers (something Wisniewski has had his troubles with) but Kelce is a veteran and has helped the rookie out plenty during the first three weeks. 

And besides, with Lane Johnson's suspension looming, the Eagles are likely going to use Wisniewski to fill it at left guard. They could put him at center and Isaac Seumalo at LG, but that would be a pretty big offensive line shakeup for a team that hasn't yet lost a game. 

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

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USA Today Images

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

SEATTLE -- Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Myles Gaskin added 100 yards and two scores, and No. 10 Washington was dominant on both sides, overwhelming No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on Friday night.

After months of hype that Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was on the verge of a breakout, the Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.

And they did it emphatically, handing Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.

The Huskies raced to a 23-0 halftime lead, scored early in the second half to go up 30-0 and coasted to their biggest victory over an AP Top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender and the Huskies went on to share the national title a year later with Miami -- taking the coaches' version while Miami topped the AP media poll.

Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on six of its eight drives. He threw touchdowns of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and capped the night with a 3-yarder to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.

Equally important was Washington's ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a major speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.

It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.

Stanford's only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.

Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Takeaways
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from David Shaw's team.

Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.

Up Next
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.