Phillies Can Clinch Playoff Berth Tonight with Hamels On Hill

Phillies Can Clinch Playoff Berth Tonight with Hamels On Hill

It's been pretty safe to assume the Phillies were going to make the postseason for a couple of weeks now, but a win tonight (or a loss by St. Louis) will make it official.

Cole Hamels (14-7, 2.60) takes the hill for the Phillies and hopes to earn his 15th win of the season which would match a career high. He was 15-5 in 2007.

The Astros will counter with former Phillie and massively struggling left-hander J.A. Happ (5-15, 5.77). The Phils have an NL-best 30-9 (.769) record in games against left-handed starters. Charlie Manuel will try to increase those numbers tonight by starting John Mayberry Jr. in center while giving Shane Victorino a blow.

If Roy Oswalt and the Phils couldn't stop Brett Myers and the Astros, Cole Hamels vs. J.A. Happ has to be the right recipe for a Phillies victory, doesn't it?

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Happ is having one awful year, but says he's not trying to dwell on it, and hopes to get back to pitching the way he knows how. After all, Happ looked a lot like Vance Worley does now back when he was a rookie for the Phillies.

Hunter Pence has an awkward hack of a swing and he chokes up on the bat. But where did he get that choking-up style? Jim Salisbury asked him the other day.

Tonight's Lineup:

11 Jimmy Rollins, ss
27 Placido Polanco, 3b
3  Hunter Pence,rf
6  Ryan Howard, 1b
15 John Mayberry, cf
10 Ben Francisco, lf
51 Carlos Ruiz, c
5  Pete Orr, 2b
35 Cole Hamels, p

First pitch scheduled for 8:05

photo by Colleen0313

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left it in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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