Phillies’ Momentum Must Continue in Miami

Phillies’ Momentum Must Continue in Miami

Don’t look now, but the Phillies have won five of their last seven, matching their best stretch so far this season. A trip to Miami would seem like the perfect way to capitalize on this recent good fortune, yet it was the lowly Marlins who halted their momentum the last time.

After taking the first two of a four-game set against the Fish, the Phils collapsed. They were unable to solve rookie and master jacket wearer Jose Fernandez for the second time in Game 3, getting held to one hit in a shutout loss. Then came the Roy Halladay meltdown, along with his subsequent apology to the fans and ensuing surgery.

While you can’t necessarily expect them to win every day – even if it is the Marlins – splitting isn’t quite getting the job done, either. At 12-32, Miami is tied for the worst record in baseball, and they’ve produced the fewest runs in the Majors by a whopping 25, averaging 2.66 per game.

And up to this point, the Phillies are just 4-3 through two series with the NL East foe.

Despite the inability to fully take advantage of their weakest opponent – not to mention they’ve been below .500 themselves for over a month since April 15 – Philadelphia has managed to stay within striking distance of the division leaders. The Fightins are 4.5 back of the Braves for first place, 2.5 behind the Nationals in second.

They’ll have a chance to reverse the gap with the Nats in their head-to-head series later this week in Washington, but only if they take care of business down by South Beach first.

Marlins pitching has given the Phillies fits though, particularly Fernandez and Kevin Slowey, both of whom they run into again this week. Fernandez has completed baffled Charlie Manuel’s crew, holding the Phils to three hits over 13 innings, while Slowey has held them to one run through 12.1.

Manuel will be shorthanded as well, at least for the start of the series. Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard were both delayed so they could get MRIs. Howard is expected to rejoin the team tomorrow – although that does not automatically mean he will be available – but Triple-A catcher Humberto Quintero traveled with the team to Florida in case Chooch winds up on the DL.

Update: Howard is day-to-day, while Ruiz will hit the DL on Tuesday and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a hamstring strain.

Those may not even be the biggest absences. With Doc out for the foreseeable future, John Lannan still unavailable, and no obvious options to fill that fifth spot, Tyler Cloyd is slated to return in Game 2 for his second start of the year. That could be a tough draw with Fernandez on for Miami.

Setup man Mike Adams officially went on the 15-day DL on Monday as well, placing additional pressure on the bullpen as well. Quintero replaces him on the 25-man roster.

Even taking all of that into consideration, this is the one opponent where you can’t complain about having a handful of guys out of action. The Phillies should be taking two of three from this sorry club every time, bare minimum.

If they do that much at least, the Phils could be heading into a three-game set with the rival Nats winners of seven or possibly eight of their last 10 – a genuine wave of momentum. It starts tonight with Cole Hamels, who has a chance to rebound against the worst offense in baseball.

Then again, if Hamels continues to struggle with his command, gets knocked around by the Marlins, and fails to pick up his second win of the season, that could establish an entirely different tone, perhaps even washing away their momentum entirely.

Best of MLB: Nelson Cruz drives in 7 as Mariners pummel Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Nelson Cruz drives in 7 as Mariners pummel Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Nelson Cruz hit his ninth career grand slam and added a three-run shot, and Hisashi Iwakuma pitched six innings to win his fifth straight start in Seattle's victory over Toronto.

Cruz hit his slam off R.A. Dickey (7-11) in the third, then added a three-run drive off Drew Storen in the eighth for his 20th career multi-homer game. He has 25 home runs this season.

It was the 13th time in team history a Mariners player has recorded seven RBIs. The team record is eight by Mike Blowers, Mike Cameron and Alvin Davis.

Kyle Seager hit a two-run homer and Nori Aoki had two RBIs and scored twice as the Mariners used a season-high 19 hits to win their third straight. Iwakuma (11-6) allowed two runs and four hits.

Wade LeBlanc pitched the final three innings for his first save (see full recap).

Stanton leads Marlins past Mets
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton homered and had his first four-hit game since 2012, driving in three runs to give Jose Fernandez all the support he needed, and Miami beat New York.

Miami rocked Jacob deGrom (6-5), who allowed 10 hits and five runs, both season highs, and lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his shortest outing since August.

Fernandez (12-4) gave up two runs in seven innings to match his career high for victories, achieved in his 2013 rookie season. He also had two hits, hiking his average to .265, and drove in the first run.

Home Run Derby winner Stanton put Miami ahead to stay in the third inning when he hit a majestic two-run homer off the left-field scoreboard above the 401-foot sign. He added an RBI single in the fourth, and singled in the first and sixth, hiking his average to .241 after a prolonged slump (see full recap).  

Dodgers snap Cardinals' 5-game win streak
ST. LOUIS -- Adrian Gonzalez hit his eighth homer, red-hot Justin Turner got two more RBIs and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat St. Louis 7-2 on Saturday night to end the Cardinals' five-game winning streak.

Turner's two-run double capped a four-run third. He has 14 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Gonzalez's 429-foot solo blast to center sparked a three-run sixth.

Kenta Maeda (9-7) rebounded from a poor outing against Arizona on July 17, giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Only one of the Cardinals' first 15 batters was able to hit the ball out of the infield against the Japanese right-hander.

Andrew Toles went 3 for 4 and scored once for the Dodgers. He has reached safely in nine of 10 games since being called up from the minors.

Mike Leake (7-8) allowed seven runs -- six earned -- in six innings.

Matt Adams homered for the second consecutive game. His blast to left in the fourth extended the Cardinals' streak of home runs to 14 straight games.

Aledmys Diaz reached safely for the 26th straight game with a first-inning single. Diaz's streak is the second-longest by a Cardinals rookie since Albert Pujols had streaks of 30 and 48 games in 2001 (see full recap).

Drew's walk-off triple lifts Nats past Padres
WASHINGTON -- Pinch-hitter Stephen Drew hit a game-ending RBI triple in the ninth inning to lift Washington past San Diego,

Anthony Rendon opened the bottom off the ninth with a single off reliever Kevin Quackenbush (6-4). Drew entered with one out and drove a pitch off the center-field scoreboard, and Rendon raced around the bases for the winning run.

Jonathan Papelbon (2-2) allowed a leadoff double in the ninth before retiring three straight batters. San Diego left runners in scoring position in each of the last two innings.

Washington starter Max Scherzer struck out 10 over seven innings (see full recap).

Giants top Yanks in extras to snap losing skid
NEW YORK -- Mac Williamson homered in the fifth inning and hit a tiebreaking single in the 12th, lifting San Francisco past New York for the Giants' first victory since the All-Star break.

NL West-leading San Francisco had lost a season-high six straight games and had held just one lead since the break -- when Buster Posey hit a go-ahead home run leading off the 10th inning at San Diego on July 16 only to have the Padres rally for a pair of runs in the bottom half against Santiago Casilla.

Williamson, whose fourth-inning error allowed the Yankees' run, began the comeback when he connected off Ivan Nova leading off the fifth.

Trevor Brown hit an opposite-field double to right off Anthony Swarzak (1-1) leading off the 12th, and Williamson singled up the middle with one out, just past the glove of diving shortstop Didi Gregorius. San Francisco was 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 7 for 64 (.111) since the All-Star break, before Williamson's single.

Cheered on by hundreds of orange-clad fans in the Giants' old hometown, San Francisco escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 10th when Casilla (2-3) retired Brian McCann on a shallow flyout and Starlin Castro on a foulout. Hunter Strickland pitched a perfect 12th for his second save (see full recap).

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

The treasure trove that is Joel Embiid's social media presence unearthed another jewel on Saturday evening.

The Sixers' big man took to Instagram to post a picture of himself chatting with local folk legend Sam Hinkie. As if that wasn't enough, check out the captions he wrote at the bottom.

THE GOAT #HeDiedForOurSins #TrustTheProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Let us break this down.

"THE GOAT" - As in Greatest Of All Time, not an actual goat you would find at your local petting zoo.

"#HeDiedForOurSins" - St. Sam, patron saint of analytical basketball martyrdom.

"#TrustTheProcess" - The rallying cry of the masses.

Sure, they may have taken away Sam, but they'll never take away JoJo's social media platforms. Never!

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

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Associated Press

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

MONTREAL  -- Didier Drogba broke out with a hat trick to lead the Montreal Impact to a 5-1 victory over the Union on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Ivorian striker hadn't scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.

Ignacio Piatti returned after sitting out a one-game suspension to score a goal and add two assists. Recent signing Matteo Mancuso, who went in for Drogba in the 79th minute, got his first MLS goal in added time.

Montreal improved to 7-5-8.

Chris Pontius scored for Philadelphia (8-7-6).