Phillies Open Homestand Versus Mets; Hamels Suspended

Phillies Open Homestand Versus Mets; Hamels Suspended

It's a shame the Phillies departed Washington right as business was picking up, but we'll be seeing the Nationals again soon enough -- in two weeks at Citizens Bank Park to be exact. Until then, perhaps the Fightins can channel the intensity they fostered in the series finale as they pick up where they left off against another division rival.

The New York Mets (15-13) are in town, and sitting three games back of first place in the NL East, they are actually entertaining thoughts of hanging in the pennant race. Of course, it doesn't hurt their cause when the last-place Phils (14-15) -- long the Mets' foil -- are just trying to keep their heads above water.

Either way, we know Roy Halladay doesn't need the extra motivation.

Halladay (3-2) suffered a collapse of epic proportions in his last start against the Braves on May 2. His eight earned runs allowed over 5.1 innings bumped his ERA for the season from 1.95 to 3.40, and in blowing a six-run lead, Doc's mates lost for just the ninth time in his 15-year career when he was handed a lead of four or more.

Simply put, Roy Halladay is not going to stand for those types of outings from Roy Halladay.

After hanging nine runs on the Nats on Sunday night, the Phillies' offense will try to keep the momentum going against lefthander Jon Niese. Niese is 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA in 2012, one of his wins coming at Philadelphia's expense. The 25 year old pitched 6.2 frames of shutout ball in a 5-0 victory on a warm Saturday afternoon at CBP back in April.

Niese had a terrible time in his last go, allowing five earned and two home runs over three to pick up a loss against the Astros. He is 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA liftime in nine appearances against the Phils, and some of the righthanded bats have had success against Niese, including John Mayberry (2 HR), Placido Polanco (.462 OBP, 6 RBI), Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino (5 hits each).

New York took two of three in their weekend series last month, and have been playing the NL East tough. The Phils need to treat this like the rivalry it is.

HAMELS SUSPENDED FIVE GAMES

It didn't take long for the fallout to come down for bean ball-gate. Cole Hamels received a five-game suspension for throwing at Nats phenom Bryce Harmer, and subsequently admitting he did so on purpose.

The ban, which begins tonight, essentially amounts to one start, but several are already theorizing Cole's next scheduled outing could be pushed back one day to Sunday, with Halladay taking the ball on Saturday instead. The Phillies are off on Thursday, so Doc will be rested.

Agree or disagree with the decision to come down on Hamels, it does not appear it will come back to bite the Phillies.

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 them 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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