Just Like the 2010 NLCS, Only With Zero Excitement

Just Like the 2010 NLCS, Only With Zero Excitement

In Game 3 of the 2010 NLCS, Matt Cain outdueled Cole Hamels for a 3-0 win on a night where there was scant offense from the Phillies and not a tremendous amount more from the Giants. Wednesday's 2-1 Phils loss may have looked familiar, with Cain and the Giants topping Hamels and the home side, 2-1, and the teams combining for 10 hits.

The Phillies got some bats on Cain's pitches but couldn't get them to fall, notching just four hits all night despite striking out only once. Hell the Giants even tried to give them some opportunities, with a few miscues in the field allowing Phillies baserunners. They just couldn't put anything together, save for a seventh inning Domonic Brown RBI after a laugher of a Giants error.

Anyone worried about the Phillies' autumnal offense got a bit more ammo for the trade deadline debates that have been raging this week. More on the game below.

On Tuesday night, Vance Worley found a way to make it through 9 innings last night without getting a single batter to swing and miss. Hamels got that out of the way early and often, striking out six, including three in the first two innings, all swinging. Cole would scatter three more K's over the course of his seven total innings, two of which were swinging, and the third was on a Cain bunt attempt going foul.

Unfortunately, Hamels didn't get any support tonight. Aaron Rowand put the Giants ahead with an RBI triple in the third, and Nate Schierholtz knocked in Jeff Keppinger in what looked like a dangerous top of the seventh (particularly for Brown, who dove awkwardly for the ball and missed). But after Cole hit catcher Eli Whiteside with a pitch, he got Cain to pop out and Rowand to GIDP, ending the threat.

The Phillies stole one back in the bottom of the seventh when a Shane Victorino high pop in the infield was botched by Cain and Whiteside failing to call each other off, and the ball rolling well into foul territory. Vic ran all the way to second on it, then made it home when Dom Brown chopped a single past Aubrey Huff and into left. That'd be it for the runs though.

With two outs and a runner on second in the seventh, Brad Lidge came in to relieve Hamels. Lidge couldn't get Jeff Keppinger to bite on a slider with two strikes and ended up walking him, but he came back to K Cody Ross on a high fastball. Ross had a pair of strikeouts on the night, even throwing his bat wildly into the stands on a Hamels buckler, so at least he didn't reprise his NLCS performance.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Phils got some more fortune from the Giants' fielders, with pinch hitter Ross Gload getting aboard despite flying out after catcher's interference was called. Again though, despite being spotted the baserunner, the Phils failed to do anything in the frame.

Antonio Bastardo came in to throw a nasty, perfect top of the ninth, retiring the side in order with a pair of strikeouts. But in the bottom half, further reviving all sorts of disgusting NLCS nostalgia, Brian Wilson came in to face Ryan Howard (who did not strike out looking, mind you, but did get boned on a called strike that he watched), Victorino, and Raul Ibanez. He retired the side for his 32nd save, closing out the win for Cain.

Without the drama of the NLCS rematch, this would have been just your average boring ballgame, the complete antithesis of last night. Sometimes the bats just don't come out, and a good pitcher loses on a night he deserves to win. But with that drama, the Phils' possible flaws were amplified. No one in the building forgets that they came up limp in a few of the games against San Francisco last October, and these two teams could very well face off in the postseason again this year.

The offense we've seen in the month of July, including just last night against this same team, are enough to counter any overreactions and hyperbole coming out of tonight's loss. It's not likely we'll see Barry Zito if these teams meet in the playoffs though, so let's hope they get a feel for how to hit the rest of the Giants' starters before then. They have five more games against each other in the next two weeks, so I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty more about it.

Carlos Beltran will join the Giants in Philly shortly and presumably be in the lineup for tomorrow's season finale (and Pat Burrell will could be released to make room). Tim Lincecum is expected to get the start for San Fran, facing Kyle Kendrick, who will try to get the Phillies their 10th straight series win.

Photos by Matt Slocum, AP

NHL Notes: Islanders fire head coach Jack Capuano

NHL Notes: Islanders fire head coach Jack Capuano

The struggling New York Islanders fired coach Jack Capuano on Tuesday, ending his tenure in the middle of its seventh season.

General manager Garth Snow named assistant GM/coach Doug Weight as Capuano's interim replacement. Snow told reporters Tuesday that the Islanders weren't where they wanted to be in the standings and that everyone's disappointed in their performance his season.

"At the end of the day organizationally I don't think Jack was probably going to be a coach that we were going to bring back," Snow said, adding that the team will begin a full-time coaching search now.

Snow said the halfway point of the season played a role in the timing of firing Capuano a day after beating the Boston Bruins 4-0. The Islanders were 17-17-8 and are in last place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points.

Capuano had been behind the Islanders bench since 2010 and was the fourth-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins, Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks and Dave Tippett of the Arizona Coyotes. Capuano's 482 games and 227 wins rank second in franchise history behind four-time Stanley Cup-winning Hall of Fame coach Al Arbour.

"I don't know that Jack fell short of expectations," Snow said. "When you're a coach in this league sometimes you're a victim of different circumstances."

Snow signed Andrew Ladd to a $38.5 million, seven-year contract in July and the winger has been a disappointment with 12 points in 41 games. The Islanders have also dealt with some injuries and waived veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak to send him to the minors.

The Islanders under Capuano went 227-194-64 and made three playoff appearances. They have not lived up to playoff expectations this season and new majority owner Jon Ledecky is expected to consider major organizational changes this offseason.

Snow said he takes "100 percent" responsibility for the underachievement but that he doesn't worry about his own job security. He said he has full confidence in Weight, the coaching staff and players to "turn this ship around."

Weight, 45, has been with the Islanders in an executive and coaching capacity since retiring in 2011. Snow said his relationship with all players, including Ladd, was positive and that he called captain John Tavares and others to inform them of the "organizational decision" to fire Capuano.

Snow said assistant coach Bob Corkum would move down from the press box to the bench as part of the restructuring.

Mike Tomlin: Antonio Brown 'foolish, selfish' for locker room live stream

Mike Tomlin: Antonio Brown 'foolish, selfish' for locker room live stream

PITTSBURGH — The father in Mike Tomlin regrets the language he used to describe the New England Patriots during the postgame speech Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown's opted to livestream on social media after a taut playoff victory over Kansas City.

The coach in Tomlin has just as big an issue with one of his team's biggest stars forcing the Steelers to talk about something other than trying to find a way to finally beat Tom Brady when it counts.

A characteristically blunt Tomlin called Brown's decision to broadcast more than 17 minutes of Pittsburgh's giddy locker room to the world -- a move that caught Tomlin using a handful of profanities -- over Kansas City "foolish," "selfish" and "inconsiderate."

"Not only is it a violation of our policy, it's a violation of league policy, both of which he knows," Tomlin said Tuesday.

"So there are consequences to be dealt with from his perspective. We will punish him. We won't punish us."

Tomlin took responsibility for his choice of words, though he was unaware of being filmed as he spoke.

During Tomlin's brief remarks he attached an expletive to the Patriots, who earned a full day's head start on the Steelers by virtue of beating Houston on Saturday night, 24 hours before Pittsburgh outlasted Kansas City 18-16.

"The responsibility associated with being in this thing, just from a role model standpoint, it's something that I personally embrace," Tomlin said.

"It's something that we as a team and organization embrace. So that's why the language, specifically, in terms of the content, is regrettable."

So too is the action of the talented if sporadically diva-like Brown. The former sixth-round pick has evolved from raw project into one of the NFL's best wide receivers.

This season he became only the second player in league history to post four consecutive 100-catch seasons.

His work ethic is universally lauded even as his Q-rating has skyrocketed. Brown can be found on TV pitching everything from soda to credit cards to video games.

The player who -- for reasons he hasn't yet disclosed -- occasionally refers to himself as "Ronald " also has a devoted social media presence, with more than 1.5 million following on Instagram and another 650,000 on Facebook, many of whom got an eyeful and an earful as the Steelers celebrated their first trip to the AFC title game in six years.

While Tomlin has "very little concern" about the content of the video, he has plenty of concern over Brown's lack of judgment.

"You wear on your teammates when they routinely have to answer questions about things that aren't preparation or football-related," Tomlin said.

"It's our desire for him and for everyone to be great teammates, as well as great players. He is a great player. He is a hardworking player. He is respected, largely, in the locker room for those things. But incidences such as this, don't help him in that regard."

The Steelers have grown accustomed to Brown's flights of fancy, whether it's posing for the Mannequin challenge while meeting with reporters, wearing eye-opening (and fine threatening) cleats or his over-the-top touchdown celebrations.

The fallout this time around has been mixed. Long snapper Greg Warren said Monday "AB is AB, he can do what he wants to do."

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expressed disappointment in Brown during Roethlisberger's weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan.

Either way, the fact they were forced to respond to questions about Brown before the biggest game of the season only reinforces Tomlin's point, though Tomlin stressed Brown is hardly the only athlete capable of becoming a distraction.

"Those things don't apply exclusively to Antonio," Tomlin said. "It's a global thing in regards to professional sports. I think that's why oftentimes you see great players move around from team to team.

"And I definitely don't want that to be his story. I am sure he doesn't want that to be his story. So, he has to address these things that put him and us in positions from time to time, in settings such as this, where it needs to be addressed."

Tomlin didn't outline the internal discipline Brown faces other than to say it will not affect his availability this weekend.

New England (15-2) pulled away from the Steelers (13-5) in the second half of a 27-16 victory in Pittsburgh on Oct. 23, a game Roethlisberger missed while recovering from surgery on his left knee.

Roethlisberger will be around this time. And so will Brown, who will almost certainly have his phone turned off late Sunday evening regardless of the outcome.

"He has to grow from this," Tomlin said. "He has to."

Notes
LB James Harrison is dealing with shoulder and triceps injuries and could be limited early in the week. ... TE Ladarius Green remains in the concussion protocol more than three weeks after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit against Cincinnati.