Oswalt Settles in Nicely, Phils Win Third Straight and 40th Overall

Oswalt Settles in Nicely, Phils Win Third Straight and 40th Overall

Through one inning, it didn't look much like Phillies starter Roy Oswalt was going to get off his recent losing skid this Sunday afternoon. But, veteran that he is, he brushed off that three-run frame and was dominant the rest of the way, shutting out the Cubs for six innings. Michael Stutes and Ryan Madson both turned in scoreless frames, and the Phils offense gave Oswalt just enough for the 4-3 win.

Oswalt didn't appear to have much on his fastball early on both in terms of zip and placement, and the Cubs found his changeup appealing as well. Starlin Castro roped an RBI double, and Aramis Ramirez put one just over the left field wall to put the Phillies in an early hole.

The Fightins got one back in the bottom of the first, with Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley both singling, followed by a Ryan Howard RBI double. Howard had a big day at the plate, notching three hits and three RBI, and drawing a walk in his only other at bat. Facing lefty Sean Marshall with the Phils down 3-2 in the seventh, he worked a great at bat and laced the go-ahead single up the middle to score Vic and Utley.

STUTES BREWING COMPANY
Oswalt's day was done at that point, and Stutes came in just blew away Castro, Carlos Pena, and Aramis Ramirez, who fouled out, struck out and struck out, respectively. In a high-pressure situation against some talented hitters, Stutes came up huge.

BELIEVIN'
Madson got two quick outs in the ninth, but gave us a few palpitations with a single and looooonnnng foul ball before finally inducing the game's final out with no damage done. Geovanny Soto sent a flare into shallow right with Dom Brown deep in a no-doubles defense, but Chase tracked it down and made a beautiful catch to end it.

Oswalt was the biggest story in this one though. After a rough first, he took advantage of a free-swinging Cubs lineup, allowing just one more hit the rest of the way and retiring seven straight before handing the ball over to his very capable bullpen arms.

There was some frustration at the plate today, including the Phils being unable to crank out a big inning against a pitcher who was almost begging for one. Doug Davis, still winless on the season, issued five walks and five hits, but the Phils couldn't do much damage despite twice loading the bases. The good news is, they weren't completely shut out in those innings, grabbing a run in each on the strength of some good at bats by the heart of the lineup.

The Phils have won back-to-back series since dropping a pair to the Nats and Pirates, and they're the first team in baseball to hit the 40-win mark.

Photo by Debby Wong-USPresswire

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

NEW ORLEANS -- Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to co-exist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right Jones fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.