Lee vs. Gee: Phillies Try to Block Mets Sweep

Lee vs. Gee: Phillies Try to Block Mets Sweep

Cliff Lee returns from the 15-day disabled list tonight, just in time to attempt to stave off an embarrassing three-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets -- but can our hero succeed?

Lee failed to pick up a win in his previous three outings this season, a victim of non-existent run support and bullpen woes behind him. It's almost as if he's been fighting a battle at two fronts out there, dueling his own mates while staring down the enemy.

The Phillies managed to score only three runs over Lee's starts, while the pen failed to hold on in extra innings twice. In fact, the last time we saw Clifton, he was being all kinds of awesome for 10 frames of shutout ball, only to watch the game slip away in the 11th, a depressing 1-0 loss in San Francisco.

Lee is 0-1 with a 1.96 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 18 Ks. Coincidentally, he picked up the loss against the Mets on April 13, striking out seven over seven, but done in by a pair of long balls. Last season, he was 1-0 with a .064 ERA in two appearances against New York.

Gee-Unit
The Ny Mets squadron will toss Dillon Gee, a righthander working through his second full season in the bigs. He's 2-2 with a 4.50 in 2012, but he's been strong in his last two trips, going win and no decision while lowering his earned run average from 5.21.

Gee has had mixed results when facing the Fightins. He pulled out a W the last time they clashed, allowing nine hits, but holding Philly to two earned over six innings in a 6-3 victory on September 24. However, he got shelled on August 22, accepting responsibility for eight runs in a 10-0 final.

Lifetime, Gee is 2-1 with a 7.85 ERA versus the Phils.

Batter vs. Pitcher
Gee stands a bit better of a chance tonight though, as he's had the most trouble handling Ryan Howard (2 HR, 6 RBI), who obviously remains unavailable.

Among the guys in tonight's lineup, Jimmy Rollins is still batting 1.000 against Gee (3 H, 1 BB), and Shane Victorino has been an all-around terror (.500 OBP, 2 RBI, 1 SB). John Mayberry is the only active member in the clubhouse who has taken Gee deep, a three-run blast for his only hit.

Inside the Box Score: The Month of May-berry?
Speaking of the enigma, after mostly watching baseball in the latter half of April, Mayberry has been seeing more opportunities recently. He's started both games of this series against the Mets, going 3-for-7 with a run and an RBI. For the month of May, Mayberry is 5-for-18 (.278), and has crossed home plate four times while bumping his season average up 20 points to .224.

A sign of things to come? We'll see. Mayberry still has just three extra-base hits and 3 RBI in 2012, with 21 strikeouts to one lousy walk, so the stroke isn't all there yet. We'll see how he progresses.

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Everything seemed status-quo in ESPN’s Marc Stein’s most updated NBA power rankings. As expected the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavaliers occupied the top spots. But when you venture down to number 15, you may gasp. 
  
Yes, the Sixers (15-27) are gracing the middle of the power rankings at number 15. Stein is starting to "trust the process" after the team’s recent 8-2 stint. It isn’t just Joel Embid making headlines with his record-breaking numbers and internet love life, but the team is now getting its due.  
  
“Philly is doing plenty of interesting things,” Stein wrote. “Ersan Ilyasova and Robert Covington have combined to drain 51 threes over the past 10 games. The Sixers, as a team, have moved into the league's top 10 in defensive efficiency.”

Covington and Ilyasova are part of a new-look starting five along with Embiid, and guards T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas. McConnell and Stauskas had spent the majority of the season coming off the bench, but Stauskas has started the last 12 and McConnell 10 of the last 11 (McConnell was sidelined for one game with a wrist injury). The Sixers are 7-3 with that starting guard duo.
 
Despite the most recent loss to the Hawks, the Sixers have won four of their last eight victories by one possession. Giving them plenty of momentum to jump up ten spots from the last power ranking. 
 
The Sixers will be at home to play the Clippers this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They will be without Joel Embid who continues to rest his injured left knee. 
 

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Comedian Jim Gaffigan opened up for Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families back in 2015.

That would seem like an odd opener for the Supreme Pontiff. And Gaffigan admits as much.

Gaffigan was a guest of Stephen Colbert's on Friday on his Late Show and talked about the surreal experience of warming up the crowd in Philly.

"I'm not a good Catholic," Gaffigan says. "If there was a test for Catholics, I would fail. But most Catholics would fail which is probably why there's not a test."

The comedian also got in a few low level digs at our town.

"'Philadelphia: the City of Brotherly Love,' which if you've been to Philly you know they mean that sarcastically," he says. "I mean, I love Philly but they mean that the same way they say 'Syria: the place for peace.'"

Meh.

"I was nervous at the sound check so I had to come up with some Philadelphia jokes. What do I know about Philadelphia? I know about the Liberty Bell, I know the cheesesteak, and I had just watched this ESPN 30-for-30 about Eagles fans throwing snowballs at Santa. Not on the brand of Brotherly Love. So when I was finally introduced there was still nobody there, I figured I'd just do my set. So I said, 'It's good to be here in Philadelphia,' and I heard a roar from crowd on the highway, so I thought I'd play to the crowd in the highway. 'Philly loves the Pope!' and I got another roar. 'Not that I was worried but you guys weren't that nice to Santa Claus.' Nothing. Silence. And then I heard something that sounded like booing... because it was booing. It wasn't everybody, maybe ten percent, so like 100,000 people booing my Santa joke before they saw their religious leader who was going to talk about mercy."

"Eventually I got a chance to meet the Pope and I was in this room and everybody was saying something to the Pope and I didn't know what to say. So when it finally came my turn, I said, 'Don't bring up the Santa incident.' The Pope didn't say anything but he gave me a look like, 'Dude, I would never bring that up.'"

The ESPN film that Gaffigan mentioned was actually a spoof. It was just kind of okay. You can watch it here.

The Pope part starts around the 5:10 mark in the below video.