Manuel Says Phillies Are Due to Down Boston; Bastardo Or Stutes to Close?

Manuel Says Phillies Are Due to Down Boston; Bastardo Or Stutes to Close?

"You're playing in the Super Bowl! Didn't you hear?"

That's what former Red Sox player and current MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar yelled at Ryan Howard in a jam-packed Phillies clubhouse prior to this evening's game against Boston at the friendly-yet-sticky confines of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

The build up for the marquee American League-National League matchup is palpable, with national media showing up in droves. But for the Phillies, it's just another series against a quality opponent. At least that's what they're saying.

"This is two good ball clubs. I think it's going to be good for [the media], good for the fans, and good for baseball. It's not the playoffs and it's not the World Series. We're talking different stages, but any time we play it's an important stage. When we play a team of this caliber it's good for us," Manuel told us in the dugout prior to tonight's game.

"We haven't beaten them since I've been here," Charlie said of the Phillies futility against the Red Sox in interleague play. "But then they're due for us to get 'em. That's how I look at it."

Dueling Aces

The pitching matchup for tonight's first game is about as exciting as baseball fans can hope for. Cliff Lee (8-5, 2.87) takes on Josh Beckett (6-2, 1.86), two of the hottest hurlers in all of baseball. It's another great pitching matchup in a stretch that's seen quite a few of them, and will see another on Thursday when Cole Hamels takes on Jon Lester.

Clifton Phifer Lee hasn't allowed a run in a team season-high 23.0 innings. He's coming off consecutive complete game shutouts and is 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA in June. How do you like 'dem apples?

Stutes Or Bastardo To Close?

With Ryan Madson hitting the 15-day DL this afternoon, the big question before the game this evening was who Charlie Manuel would use to close. Manuel said he was leaning towards Bastardo but that could change based on the situation.

"If I have to really pin somebody down to be the closer for a period of time, Bastardo would probably get the first nod," Manuel told us before the game. "But if we get up there tonight in the eighth inning tonight and you see three right-handed hitters up there, more than likely Stutes will be in. You see a couple left-handed hitters, Bastardo might pitch the eighth. Dubee and I will decide that when we get there."

Potent Boston Lineup A Little Less So in NL

With David Ortiz's days in the field pretty much done, Big Papi will not be in the starting line up this evening for Boston. Adrian Gonzalez will play first base and bat third while Darnell McDonald (.109 batting average) will be the Sox feared cleanup hitter and play left field.

Full Sawx Lineup: Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis, McDonald, Varitek, Cameron, Scutaro, Beckett.

The Phils bats will counter with a standard lineup with Dom Brown playing right field: Rollins, Polanco, Utley, Howard, Victorino, Ibanez, Brown, Ruiz, Clifton Phifer Lee.

7:05 first pitch from CBP. Wait 'til you can see the whites of the enemy's eyes before booing.

Best of NFL: Seahawks hurt Tony Romo, pull away from Cowboys

Best of NFL: Seahawks hurt Tony Romo, pull away from Cowboys

SEATTLE -- Three plays were all it took for Dallas to get yet another injury scare surrounding Tony Romo.

The quarterback lasted just 90 seconds into the Cowboys' 27-17 preseason loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night before leaving with what appeared at first to be a potentially significant injury, but ended up being minor.

Romo was tackled from behind by Seattle's Cliff Avril on the third play from scrimmage as Romo scrambled from the pocket.

He immediately grabbed at his back, crumpled on the field while trainers sprinted from the Dallas sideline and images of Romo's injury problems from last year immediately flashed to mind.

Turned out it was all just a scare. Romo walked off the field without assistance, threw passes on the sideline and lobbied for a return to the game. Dallas coach Jason Garrett opted to play it safe and Romo donned a baseball hat as a spectator the rest of the night.

"I was just in shock and had my mind on just, `C'mon, Tony. Get up,'" Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the team's TV broadcast.

"Said a few prayers right there in the middle on the spot. Really just couldn't imagine getting that hand dealt to us. We're pleased that it's in good shape. We obviously don't need to see what Tony can do out there."

What Romo saw was an impressive initial flash from rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott and a solid performance by backup QB Dak Prescott against one of the top defenses in the NFL.

Elliott rushed for 48 yards on seven carries, including a 13-yard run where he knocked Seattle safety Kam Chancellor backward. Prescott was solid playing against most of Seattle's starting defense, finishing 17 of 23 for 116 yards, including a 17-yard TD pass that Jason Witten snatched away from K.J. Wright.

Russell Wilson and Seattle's No. 1 offense played into the second half, scoring on four of its final five possessions including a pair of TD tosses by Wilson (see full recap).

Foster leads Dolphins to win over Falcons
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Running back Arian Foster had a 2-yard touchdown run in the Miami Dolphins' 17-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Foster, who joined the Dolphins during the offseason and is coming off an Achilles injury, had his most extensive playing time with his new team in the third preseason game that was played at Orlando's Camping World Stadium.

The four-time Pro Bowl running back played in just one series in the first half, but he made the most of the limited opportunities by sparking the Dolphins to their lone touchdown drive of the half with five carries for 10 yards, capped by his 2-yard scoring run early in the second quarter.

The Dolphins are taking a cautious approach with Foster, who hasn't played a full season since 2012 with Houston. The former Texans star didn't play in the Dolphins' preseason opener and had just two carries for minus-5 yards last week against Dallas.

With Foster expected to challenge second-year running back Jay Ajayi in the Dolphins backfield this season, coach Adam Case came into Thursday night's game wanting a little more to evaluate Foster on.

Foster didn't get a lot more work, but he did enough in the seven touches he received to make the Dolphins' running back competition interesting. Ajayi carried seven times for 11 yards and caught two passes for 12 yards.

Foster had two receptions for 20 yards, which included a 16-yard catch that moved the Dolphins into scoring position at the Falcons 22.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, coming off an impressive outing against the Cowboys, didn't put his team in many scoring positions, but he did move the ball effectively.

He completed 20 of 29 passes for 155 yards while leading the Dolphins to a score in one of two red zone opportunities (see full recap).

Roy Halladay provides epic quote in tribute to Carlos Ruiz, the 'little engine that could'

Roy Halladay provides epic quote in tribute to Carlos Ruiz, the 'little engine that could'

Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz shared a special relationship.

The two formed an incredible battery combination that produced a perfect game and postseason no-hitter in the same year.

We all know the story.

Halladay, a Cy Young winner with plenty of accolades, loved the unassuming Ruiz just as much, if not more, than anyone.

This is case in point: Doc, via CSNPhilly.com's Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury, provided an absolutely epic quote summing up Chooch, who the Phillies traded on Thursday night.

Without further ado ...

Chooch was the little engine that could for a team loaded with big names, but no player was more valuable to the team as a whole than Carlos! He was so humble and grateful, you couldn't help but just want to do anything for him including win! He flawlessly handled one of the greatest pitching staffs ever assembled and was just as important offensively, as well. It was nothing short of miraculous that he could handle so many different personalities and approaches on a day-to-day basis the way that he did. He was the best catcher I've ever thrown to and, in my opinion, the best catcher in baseball in the years I was with him. It's going to be sad to see him without a Phillies uniform on and not seeing him sitting in his chair in the clubhouse with a smile. And just the way the fans treated Chase last week, Chooch is also deserving of that hero's welcome. They are my two favorite players of all-time as well as favorite teammates. I was fortunate to have both of them in the clubhouse. I want to wish good luck to Carlos. Maybe one day when we're old and gray we can come back to Philly!!

With that, we'll leave you with these awesome moments.

Report: Phillies calling up prospect Jorge Alfaro

Report: Phillies calling up prospect Jorge Alfaro

It appears prized catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is coming to the Phillies.

But not for long.

According to a report late Thursday night by Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, Alfaro will be promoted from Double A Reading to the Phillies and join the team Friday in New York.

Alfaro, already on the Phillies' 40-man roster, is not expected to stay for long. He gets the call now with the Phillies' trade of Carlos Ruiz on Thursday night and veteran catcher A.J. Ellis, a part of the Ruiz deal, not yet with the team but expecting to join it this weekend against the Mets.

Alfaro is a strong candidate to be a September call-up of the Phillies once Reading is finished with the Eastern League playoffs.

The 23-year-old was acquired in the Cole Hamels trade at last season's non-waiver deadline. With the Fightin Phils this season, Alfaro is hitting .279 with 13 home runs, 61 RBIs and 60 runs scored. He's ranked as baseball's second-best catching prospect by MLB.com Pipeline and is known for his big throwing arm and power potential.