On the Offensive: Ruiz, Mayberry Power Phils

On the Offensive: Ruiz, Mayberry Power Phils

It seems maybe, just maybe, if the Phils have this bullpen thing worked out like they did on Friday night -- two shutout innings from Antonio Bastardo and one from Chad Qualls -- the Fightins might be finding their groove at the plate. Keyed by three-RBI nights from Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry, the Phillies bounced back from an ugly sweep against the Mets with a 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Vance Worley picked up his third win of the season, allowing three earned over six while striking out nine, but the story is the offense gaining an early lead and never letting up. Ruiz was 3-for-3 and Mayberry was 2-for-4, both taking Padres starter Clayton Richard deep once, as the Phils scored runs in four out of eight possible innings.

The offensive resurgence has been lost in the shuffle a bit as the club has struggled to stay above .500 while battling a litany of other issues, but it is real. Through the first 16 games of the season, the Phillies averaged 2.7 runs per game. Over the last 17, they're rocking 5.1. Even if you throw out the 15-13 slugfest against the Braves, the Phils have still averaged 4.6 RPG over the latter half of baseball.

Mayberry has become a big part of the reason why. He's now 8-for-26 (.308) during the month of May, bumping his average for the season up to .240. It's reassuring to see him hit for some power too, as last night's bomb was his first of the year.

Placido Polanco was also 2-for-4 in the victory, and is now batting .283 after a horrid start to his campaign that saw him hitting below the Mendoza line as late as April 24. He's had multiple hits in seven of the last 13 starts.

And Ruiz just continues to roll. Chooch is now the clubhouse leader or ranked second in most offensive categories. Last night's long ball was his sixth of the season -- his career high is nine -- to go with 15 runs and 22 RBIs in 2012.

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Some notes and keys ahead of Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:

• Since throwing for 301 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 3, Carson Wentz's aerial numbers have declined — 238 yards in Detroit, 179 in Washington and 138 vs. Minnesota.

• Even though he missed two games with an injury, I still can't understand how Zach Ertz has been targeted only 16 times in four games this season.

• Dallas WR Cole Beasley is arguably the best slot receiver in the game right now. Last November against the Eagles, he had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. With the Eagles' best slot cornerback, Ron Brooks, out for the year with a ruptured quad tendon, Malcolm Jenkins will have his hands full trying to keep up with Beasley in the slot.

• Eagles and Cowboys defensive backs beware: Jerome Boger's crew is officiating this game. This season, Boger's crew has called 36 penalties for defensive pass interference, illegal contact or defensive holding.

• The Eagles' 20 sacks ties them for third-most in the league. Dallas has allowed just nine, second-fewest in the NFL.

• Does Doug Pederson still have faith in RB Ryan Mathews late in games? Mathews has fumbled with less than five minutes left in two of the last three games. The head coach says he has not lost faith in Mathews, and Mathews says he'll stop fighting for more yards late in games. Time will tell.

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

Doug Pederson said this week he’s so concerned about Ryan Mathews’ late-game fumbling problem that he’ll consider using a different running back in crucial late-game situations (see story).

If Mathews is concerned about it, he’s not letting on.

“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” he said at his locker on Thursday. “Worrying about stuff like that just causes more stress.

“I can’t control any of that. The only thing I can control is trying to give him 100 percent every time I touch the ball and trying to get better.”

Mathews likely cost the Eagles a win over the Lions with his late fumble in Detroit three weeks ago. Last week, he lost another fumble in the final minutes of the Eagles’ win over the Vikings.

He’s the first back with two fumbles in the final five minutes of two games in the same season since Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants in 2010.

He has single-handedly accounted for two of the three fumbles by NFL running backs in the last five minutes of games this year.

Pederson on Wednesday said, “By no means am I down on Ryan,” but also said he would consider using Wendell Smallwood or Darren Sproles in late-game situations moving forward.

Mathews is averaging 3.9 yards per carry on a team-high 11 carries per game.

He said Thursday he has to learn not to fight for extra yards when the situation calls mainly for ball protection.

“You can’t fight for more yards, you’ve just got to go down,” he said. “Don’t put the ball on the ground.

“There’s no secret cure or anything like that. You’ve just got to get what you can get and get down. You can’t really fight for more yards like that.”

Mathews said it’s difficult for him to ramp down his natural aggressiveness in situations that call for him to be more conservative and protect the ball instead of trying to fight for extra yards.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I’m not the one to really shy away from not going down on first contact. But situations like that, you’ve just got to be more aware.”

Sproles (4.6 average on 31 carries), Smallwood (4.1 average on 28 carries) and Kenjon Barner (5.8 average on 16 carries) all have higher rushing averages than Mathews.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he’s not concerned about Mathews and said his confidence in the 29-year-old former Pro Bowler hasn’t waned.

“I love our guys,” Reich said. “I wouldn't trade our guys for anybody. We use a word around here a lot, and I know sometimes it gets thrown around, but it's family.

“You know, not every family's perfect, and we all make mistakes, but when we put guys out on the field (we’re confident in them). I can't play like that. I can't coach like that. You've got to have confidence.

“Now with coaches, it’s a business and coaches make decisions based on things. And when those decisions get made, they get made. But when a guy is in the game, we have to play with confidence and we have to coach with confidence and I don't see any other way to do it.”