Phillies Looking to Make Up Ground in Wild Card Chase Versus Pirates

Phillies Looking to Make Up Ground in Wild Card Chase Versus Pirates

These days you have to search for reasons to get excited about a Phillies game. Mike Fontenot's insertion back into the lineup? There's a confidence booster. Joe Blanton going head to head with Jeff Karstens? That'll put butts in the seats.

Well here are a couple of legitimate reasons to tune in this week. First, in the Pirates you can feed your appetite for a Philly-Pittsburgh rivalry for the next four days. Granted, there isn't the same bad blood or close to Flyers-Penguins, but the sun shines a little brighter when you still have something to hold over the western half.

More importantly, a series win obviously helps the Phils in the standings, particularly in the Wild Card, where the Pirates are currently tied with the Mets for one of the two spots. Every game matters regardless, but the opportunity to take down one of the front runners means double.

The Phillies are 5.5 back of the WC, which is still very much in it at this point, so don't downplay the significance here.

Unfortunately, they'll have to survive another Joe Blanton start first. Heavy B (6-6, 5.04) seemingly got back on track two starts ago, but reverted right back to run-surrendering form in his last outing. Home Run Blanton tossed three bombs, and allowed five runs total in seven innings of work against the Rockies -- though he settled down as the game went on, and kept the score knotted, which did give the Phils a chance to ultimately pick up the 7-6 win.

Blanton picked up a loss at Pitt on April 7, when he came out of the bullpen in the bottom of the tenth inning. Phillies-killer Rod Barajas belted a lead-off double, and pinch runner Michael McKerny would advance to third and eventually score on an infield single with two outs.

Jeff Karstens (0-1, 4.50), the Bucs' pitcher that night, hasn't seen much action since then. Two starts later, he landed on the DL with shoulder inflammation, and this is his first appearance since. Karstens held the Fightins to one run through six innings in a no decision. Charlie Manuel was still figuring out how to work with the pieces he had then, so the offense should be able to provide a bit more of a spark tonight. Here's the lineup, courtesy of the Inq's Matt Gelb:

1. Jimmy Rollins 6
2. Juan Pierre 7
3. Hunter Pence 9
4. Carlos Ruiz 2
5. Shane Victorino 8
6. Placido Polanco 5
7. Ty Wigginton 3
8. Mike Fontenot 4
9. Joe Blanton 1

Doug Pederson won't commit, leaning towards activating Nelson Agholor

Doug Pederson won't commit, leaning towards activating Nelson Agholor

For whatever reason, Doug Pederson refused to commit to it on Friday morning, but it certainly seems like Nelson Agholor is going to be active this Sunday. 

When asked about Agholor, Pederson cited Jordan Matthews’ ankle injury -- Matthews is questionable heading into the game – as a reason he’s “keeping [Agholor] in the mix.”

Does “in the mix” mean active? 

“Yeah, there’s a good chance,” Pederson said. “I have to find out how Jordan does today and see really. Just getting on Nelson, his mind has been great, his attitude has been really good, he’s been working really hard. So right now, nothing says not keeping him up, keeping him out. Everything is leaning toward keeping him active.”

Agholor was a healthy scratch against the Packers on Monday Night Football after a dreadful performance against Seattle, after which he admitted he was in his own head. All last week, Pederson said it was a possibility he’d keep Agholor down and then he did. Agholor watched from the sideline as the Eagles lost 27-13.  

When pressed on Friday about his failure to commit to playing Agholor, Pederson said he didn’t want to rush into anything, because something unexpected could come up. 

“If I can wait until the last second, I’m going to wait until the last second and just see,” he said.  

On the last question of Friday’s press conference, Pederson seemed to possibly tip his hand. He was asked if there are things he can do as a play-caller, if Agholor plays, to build his confidence, perhaps getting him the ball early in the game. 

“Yeah, there’s always way to do that, obviously, play call, play design, specifically to get him going in the game, could help,” Pederson said. “Get him the ball early. It might just be a screen, just getting him the ball quick, let him get settled into the game. Those are all things I consider, especially putting the openers together, the first 15 (plays), let’s say, focusing on certain guys, wanting to get them touches early. And he’s definitely one of those guys.”

The Eagles have elected to keep just four receivers active on game days all season, while some other teams keep five up. Pederson said the reason for that is special teams. Instead of having a fifth receiver, the Eagles keep up core special teams players like reserve safety Terrence Brooks or reserve corner C.J. Smith. 

With Matthews’ injury and with Agholor’s situation, Pederson might have to consider activating five for the first time this season on Sunday. 

“That’s something, obviously, I have to consider,” Pederson said. “It really depends on today and how well Jordan comes out of today. And see where he’s at. Again, it’s a short week and getting back out there yesterday, (Thursday) was, I don’t want to say it hurt him, it was good to put him out there. The decision could come from how well he does or doesn’t come out of today.”

Connor Barwin and Kurt Vile promote New Year's show in bizarre fashion

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Connor Barwin and Kurt Vile promote New Year's show in bizarre fashion

Kurt Vile and Connor Barwin are both beloved Philly dudes so it made sense when they hooked up a couple of summers ago for the Eagles defender's first MTWB benefit show.

It appears as if the duo have remained tight and they even joined forces again today to help promote Vile's show on New Year's Eve at the Fillmore over in Fishtown.

Let's just say it seems they were trying to be as bizarre as possible on purpose to get some attention.

Mission accomplished.

Kurt Vile, Connor Barwin & Jello Man Telling Jokes

Check out Kurt and his pals Connor Barwin and Jello Man getting amp'd up for the big New Years Eve show in Philadelphia. Still a few tickets left if you haven't gotten yours yet. Catch Kurt Vile & The Violators on Tour in a city near you: Tue-Dec-13 Dallas, TX Trees Wed-Dec-14 Austin, TX KGSR 26th Anniversary @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater Wed- Dec-28 New York, NY Terminal 5 Thu- Dec-29 Boston, MA Royale Fri- Dec-30 Boston, MA The Sinclair Sat- Dec-31 Philadelphia, PA The Fillmore Thu- Jan-26 Charlottesville, VA Jefferson Theater Fri- Jan-27 Saxaphaw, NC Haw River Ballroom Sat- Jan-28 Athens, GA 40 Watt Sun- Jan-29 Charleston, SC Music Farm Mon- Jan-30 Ponte Vedra, FL Ponte Vedra Concert Hall Tue- Jan-31 Orlando, FL Social to Beacham Wed- Feb-01 Ybor City, FL Ritz Ybor Sat- Feb-04 Mexico City, MEX Plaza Condesa February 4-8 Riviera Maya, MX My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday Wd-Feb-27 Perth, AUS Perth Festival***SOLO*** Tue-Feb-28 Perth, AUS Perth Festival***SOLO*** Fri-Mar-03 Sydney, AUS Taronga Zoo ***SOLO*** Sat-Mar-04 Melbourne, AUS Melbourne Zoo***SOLO*** Thu-Mar-09 Brisbane, AUS Queensland PAC***SOLO*** March 10-12 Golconda, TAS A Festival Called Panama***SOLO*** March 11-13 Meredith, VIC Golden Plains Festival***SOLO*** Co-headline w/ Band of Horses 12/14 Lucy Dacus supporting 12/14 Woods supporting 12/28-31 Nathan Bowles supporting 12/28-31 Luke Roberts supporting 1/26-2/1 2/4-8 w/ My Morning Jacket, Gary Clark Jr., The Head and the Heart, Deer Tick Mick Turner supporting 3/3-9

Posted by Kurt Vile on Friday, December 2, 2016

Here's a fun old video featuring the two hanging before the aforementioned MTWB show: