Nationals Infield Sucks, Phillies Win 11-3

Nationals Infield Sucks, Phillies Win 11-3

At long last, the Phillies' interminable one-game losing streak is over.
Yes, it was a tough 24 hours, but tonight the Fightins finally returned
to their winning ways with an 11-3 victory, moving the Fightins to an
exemplary 10-2 record for the month of August. Roy Oswalt, who gave up
just three runs over seven innings, picked up the W for the first time
since returning from the DL.

The win was due in no small part to the performance of the Washington
Nationals' infield, an atrocity exhibition the likes of which Ian Curtis
never even dreamed of. Booted grounders, poorly gloved grounders,
grounders missed altogether, sailed throws to first, dropped throws to
first...the Nats' infield may have only been charged with three errors
this evening, but there were least another three plays that the infield
just failed to make, nearly all of which the Phils ended up capitalizing
on. In fact, the only decent play made the entire inning by the
Natinals from within the diamond was made by starting pitcher John
Lannan, who glove-shoveled a slow-chopped Wilson Valdez grounder to home
to get a force on Ryan Howard. Besides that, Lannan got no help
whatsoever, resulting in this odd final pitching line: 3 IP, 7 R, 1 ER, 4
H, 5 BB, 1K

The Phillies didn't need to do all that much to take advantage of the
Nats' miscues—incredibly, they scored their first eight runs on just
five hits, only one of which was for extra bases—but they did help their
own cause with some smart baserunning. Wheels went orgasmic over the
number of times the boys went first-to-third on singles, as well as over
the Utley-like move from Wilson Valdez when he scored from second on an
infield grounder after the Nats failed to secure a force at second with
the bases loaded. And that one extra-base hit was a two-run blast from
Ryan Howard in the opening frame, which was big for the guys after they
only managed to scratch out one run in seven innings of Livan Hernandez
action last night. (By the way, with his four men driven in tonight,
Ryan now has 18 RBIs in his last 15 games, with six homers over that
span. Just mentioning.)

As for Little Roy's performance on the mound, he was fairly sharp in his
second start since returning from the DL. After laboring a little in
the first two innings, the Phils' five-run third gave Roy the chance to
settle down a little, and aside from a mildly sticky sixth, he breezed
the rest of the way, getting in seven innings with less than 100
pitches, striking out five and walking just one. Not dominant, but on a
night where all we really needed was solid efficiency, he certainly gave
us that, and the boy wonder Michael Stutes (who it appears has
officially replaced Raul Ibanez as the city's "UUUUUU" Fightin of
choice) finished the job with a scoreless final two innings.

Tomorrow, Roy Halladay takes the hill with a chance to give the Phils
their fifth series win in a row, opposed by Nationals sinkerballer /
reclamation project Chien-Ming Wang. With the Braves' 8-4 loss to the
Cubs last night, Philly is back to being 8.5 games up in the East, and
if the Phils win again tomorrow, they'll only have to play .500 ball the
rest of the season to end up with 100 wins. Hell of a season, Jackie.

Ex-Penn State TE Brent Wilkerson gets probation for indecent assault

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Ex-Penn State TE Brent Wilkerson gets probation for indecent assault

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — A former Penn State football player will serve five years' probation and register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to indecent assault.

Twenty-two-year-old Brent Wilkerson was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in connection with a February outing to several bars with a young woman and others.

Police say Wilkerson was drunk but the woman was sober when he insisted on making sure she got home safe.

The woman tells police Wilkerson pushed her upstairs to her bedroom where he fell asleep. The woman says she went to bed later and woke up to find Wilkerson kissing and fondling her and fondling himself. He later apologized in a text message.

Wilkerson was kicked off the team in March. Court records say he lives in Clinton, Maryland.

Union-Toronto FC 5 things: Embracing the playoff underdog role

Union-Toronto FC 5 things: Embracing the playoff underdog role

Union vs. Toronto FC
7:30 p.m. on ESPN2

Riding a seven-game winless run entering their first playoff match since 2011, the No. 6 Union (11-14-9) will attempt to hit the reset button and unseat the third-ranked and heavily favored Toronto FC (14-9-11) on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., ESPN2) at BMO Field.

Here are five things to know:

1. Playing underdog
The struggling Union are happily accepting the role as underdogs against MLS Cup-hungry Toronto FC.

"It's a difficult task but it’s not impossible,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. "Not many people are giving us a chance. We've been a good team when we're considered the underdog and my guys have responded well in that situation. This is no different."

To fully embrace that underdog role, and in an attempt to wash away the stink of how they ended the regular season, the Union are treating Wednesday as a hard reset. For them, the playoffs will be a fresh chance to prove themselves.

“It’s a new season now,” said Union center back Ken Tribbett, who helped his club draw Toronto FC at BMO Field on Sept. 24. “In the playoffs, anything can happen. We go up to Toronto and it’ll be a good test. We have to stay sharp for 90 minutes and hopefully we can come back here with a win.”

And there is a reason to be slightly optimistic about the Union’s chance. Despite a 1-0-1 record against the Canadian side this season, the Union, who lost 3-1 in the first match, played much better on Sept. 24 at BMO Field. They clogged the midfield and ground the Sebastian Giovinco-less club into a 1-1 draw.

“It’s encouraging that we have gone there recently and played well,” Curtin said. “I think we have a group that has a belief, and one that is pissed a bit about how things have ended. They are motivated.”

2. Leaning on experience
While the 2016 Union will ultimately be known for their reliance on youth — a group that included Keegan Rosenberry, who has played every minute this season, Fabian Herbers, Josh Yaro and Ken Tribbett — it’s the veterans that will lead them on Wednesday.

“This is a pressure game for everybody,” Curtin said. “We have a good balance of guys who have played in big spots, like (Chris) Pontius, Tranquillo (Barnetta), (Alejandro) Bedoya. (C.J.) Sapong has played in big games, you can go through the list.”

Yet despite Curtin’s need for his veterans to lead, his reliance on youth means the younger players need to be reliable. The manager admitted that pressure can change how people play, and he is making sure the Union youth movement remains steady on Wednesday.

“We have young guys, there’s no question about it,” Curtin said. “These guys will play in their first playoff game and a lot of the guys on our roster have never been in a playoff game. You hope they rise to the occasion and I’m confident they will.”

3. Pressure on Toronto
Making their second-ever postseason appearance, high-priced Toronto FC has its sights set on bigger things than the Union in the play-in playoff round. That’s why Curtin believes the pressure is squarely on his opposition.

“I’d say the pressure is on them, they are the home team,” the manager said. “My guys should be loose, they have nothing to lose. It’s fair to say, they are the home team and they want to make a deep playoff run. We want to make some noise.”

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney knows his team will be excited, so he’s trying to instill a high intensity but controlled start for his club.

“We expect a little of the unexpected at the start,” he said. “The game settles down eventually, but at the start, there’s a lot of emotion into it and you want to play with the right kind of caution but the right kind of intensity to put the opposing team on their back foot.

“The guys are ready to go, ready to go after Philadelphia.”

4. Keep an eye on
Jozy Altidore: It would be easy to go with Giovinco here, but Altidore has a recent history of crushing the Union. He has two goals in his last three games against the Union and buried 10 in 23 games this season.

“Jozy is a guy who can stretch the field and is dangerous,” Curtin said. “He’s not a guy you can shut down, it’s not possible. He’ll have his moments, you just have to make those looks as predictable for (goalkeeper Andre Blake) as you can. You hope he’s a little off on the night.”

Tranquillo Barnetta: Without added inspiration, the Union offensive catalyst has been one of the club’s best players all season. On Wednesday, Curtin expects a little extra from Barnetta, who is not returning to the Union in 2017.

“I’ve talked a ton about how special he is, he’s been a great attribute for the Union and a guy we want to prolong the season for,” Curtin said. “He’s played in the big spots, the big games and there’s something extra there for him.” 

5. This and that
• On the injury front, Union center back Yaro sprained his MCL while returning from a concussion. “It’s a two-week injury,” Curtin said, “so it will be unfortunate he won’t be part of the Toronto game.”

Warren Creavalle is also fighting injury. The defensive midfielder left Sunday’s match with a rib injury but could be available for Wednesday. “It’s painful for him,” Curtin said. “He’s a tough kid and he wants to be a part of this game.”

• The Union and Toronto FC are deadlocked all time, with a 6-6-5 record against each other. 

• The Union are 2-4-3 at BMO Field.

• Both clubs enter Wednesday limping. Since August 27 (the Union’s last win), Toronto FC is 2-1-4, while the Union are 0-5-2.