Phillies Start Second Half With 7-2 Win Behind Fine Play From Ibanez, Mayberry

Phillies Start Second Half With 7-2 Win Behind Fine Play From Ibanez, Mayberry

Ahh, Phillies victories. It's been days since we've gotten to experience one of those. Unlike last season, when the Phillies stumbled into the second half after the All-Star break, the Phillies wasted no time getting back to where they left off last week. They rode the fine play of Raul Ibanez, John Mayberry, and the solid pitching of Worley and the pen to beat the Mets 7-2. As they should.

The Phils got to Dickey early, putting up 3 runs in the second inning. Raul Ibanez started things off with a single to left. Sports Illustrated cover boy Carlos Ruiz smacked a single up the middle and then Domonic Brown worked a base on balls to load the bases. John Mayberry Jr. smacked a single up the middle to put the Phils up 2-0 and Charlie then gave Vance Worley a green line which paid off. Worley weakly grounded out to third, but Brown was either running all the way from third or got a great read on the ball and scored without a play. Jimmy popped out to end the inning, but the Phils were up 3-0 and never looked back.

After making an impressive diving grab out in left field in the bottom of the fifth, Rauuuuuul did it at the dish in the top half of the following inning, bashing a homer out towards Utley's corner that put the Phillies up 4-0. It was Ibanez's 13th homer of the season.

Vanimal Earns the Win

Vance Worley was okay in his first start back from his short stint with Lehigh Valley. He managed to avoid any real trouble until the bottom of the sixth. A walk to Carlos Beltran, a single to David Murphy, and another walk to Jason Bay loaded the bases with one out and Charlie had seen enough from Vance. Manuel went with 9-pitch-inning-is-this-guy-for-real Juan Perez whose effectively wild style came back to bite the Phillies just a bit. Perez threw a wild pitch that allowed the Mets to get one on the board. He almost threw another one away to the following batter, but Chooch miraculously kept it in front of him. Perez finally forced a groundout to Martinez to end the inning with only minimal damage done.

Madson to Stutes to Bastardo

Needing three innings from the pen, Charlie had the luxury of using Ryan Madson in the seventh, easing him back into major league action. Madson looked sharp in his first game back from the DL, hitting 95 on the gun, and striking out Ruben Tejada and Jason Pridie (who?) before forcing Angel Pagan to pop out to center. Not a bad seventh inning guy, eh?

Michael Stutes hiccuped a blast of a homer to Carlos Beltran and had to really work to limit the Mets to only one run in the eighth.

Despite having a five run lead, Antonio  Bastardo was called on to pitch the ninth. And he did it well (1-2-3). Finishing off the Mets and completing the Phillies win to kick off the second half on the right foot.

Per the broadcast this evening, Antonio Bastardo has held opponents to one hit in their last 48 at-bats.

LOLMets & Big John

After Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada screwed up a routine groundball that would have ended the eighth inning, Mayberry ripped a bases-loaded double that scored 'em all. 7-2 Phils. Game over. [watch the double here]

Big John continues to swing a hot bat, finishing the day 2-4 with 5 RBIs.

Eye On the Enemy

The Braves kept pace with the Phillies by beating the Nationals 11-1 in Atlanta. [box]

On verge of Super Bowl, Eric Rowe responds to Eagles, Roseman

On verge of Super Bowl, Eric Rowe responds to Eagles, Roseman

The Eagles' season ended a few weeks ago with a 7-9 record. 

In a couple weeks, Eric Rowe might be playing in the Super Bowl. 

Rowe, of course was the Eagles second-round pick in 2015 and went on to have a promising rookie season. But in 2016, the change of head coaches brought a new defensive coordinator and a new scheme, which Rowe apparently didn't fit. So a few days before the season began, he was dealt to the New England, where he has become a big part of their defense. 

In his after-the-season press conference on Jan. 4, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked about the trade and gave a somewhat curious answer. He said the team made the move because the front office had already determined they were not going to give Rowe an extension, even though he wouldn't have been eligible for two more seasons. 

If that sounded weird to Eagles fans, they weren't alone. It sounded weird to Rowe too, when the Wilmington News Journal's Martin Frank caught up with him this week. 

“That’s a long time away," Rowe said. "If that’s the reason, that’s really, really weird. You know, it’s whatever. If he thinks that, then I guess that’s what it was. They’re thinking way down the line.” 

Rowe, 24, ended up starting seven games during this regular season for New England, but played just 43 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps. If Rowe played 50 percent of defensive snaps in 2016 or if he does it in 2017, the fourth-round pick the Eagles get back in the trade will turn into a third-rounder, so there's still a chance next year. 

While a third-round pick wouldn't be bad, the Eagles gave up on a young, talented corner just a year after drafting him because he didn't fit what they wanted to do. 

Shortly after the trade, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz called Rowe a good cover corner but cited the development of Jalen Mills as a reason why Rowe became expendable. Schwartz said he appreciated Rowe, but the personnel staff "decided to use him as an asset, and as coaches, we just deal with that and keep playing." 

It was pretty clear during training camp that Rowe had fallen out of favor with the Eagles. He was buried behind Mills and others on the depth chart, so maybe the trade was the best thing for him. 

"That was frustrating, just kind of like thinking, 'What am I doing wrong?'" Rowe said to the Wilmington News Journal. "Yeah, I made mistakes, but everybody makes mistakes. I'm not making bad mistakes. I'm making plays. Why am I sliding down? That was frustrating times. I would just go home and my girlfriend's there, and I'm telling her all this stuff. I'd tell my parents, and they're like, 'Just keep your head up, just keep working because you never know. Then boom, the trade comes up." 

And now he might get a chance to play in the Super Bowl, while the Eagles desperately need to fix their cornerback position before next season. 

Sixers-Trail Blazers 5 things: Streaking Sixers meet tough stretch

Sixers-Trail Blazers 5 things: Streaking Sixers meet tough stretch

Sixers vs. Trail Blazers
7 p.m. on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

Coming off of an impressive win over the Raptors Wednesday, the Sixers (14-26) welcome the Trail Blazers (18-26) to the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night for the first game of a back-to-back. 

Here’s what to watch for the matchup:

1.  Streaking Sixers
What a new year it’s been for the Sixers.

Winning seven of their last nine games has Joel Embiid thinking playoffs. The Sixers are 5½ games out of the eighth seed in the East, and should get even better if (or when) Ben Simmons makes his debut.

With five teams ahead of them, it seems unlikely the Sixers get in, but why not enjoy the streak while it lasts and give Embiid and the youngsters a taste of their first success in the NBA?

2. Heating up
Speaking of enjoying the streak while it lasts, the schedule gets tougher from here on out.

With five sets of back-to-backs over the next two weeks, the team will be forced to play at least five games without Embiid. And the difference with "The Process" on the floor and off is staggering. The Sixers are 12-17 with Embiid, but a putrid 2-9 without the rookie sensation. Much of that can be attributed to Embiid’s stellar defense and Jahlil Okafor’s um, less than stellar, whatever he calls what he does on the defensive end.

3. Super Dario
Dario Saric’s improved play has been another catalyst for the hot streak. Saric has elevated his game during the 7-2 run, raising his numbers in points and rebounds, giving the Sixers a solid second unit. In fact, Saric is second (behind Embiid) among rookies in points (9.7) and rebounds (5.9) per game. 

“If Joel Embiid weren’t in the league, you’d have to talk about him in consideration for Rookie of the Year,” head coach Brett Brown said after Wednesday’s win.

4. Another one
After slowing the Raptors' All-Star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry on Wednesday, the Sixers face another dynamic backcourt in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The duo averages a combined 49.5 points per game, nearly half (46 percent) of the Blazers' total points per game.

Luckily for the Sixers, the Blazers are an abysmal 7-17 on the road this year, including 5-10 vs. the Eastern Conference. 

5. This and that
• The Blazers have given up an average of 114 points over their three-game losing streak. The Sixers have scored 114 or more points in five of their 30 games this season. 

• The Sixers are 3-4 in the first game of back-to-backs and 1-6 in the second leg. The Sixers face the Hawks Saturday.

• After signing a four-year, $70 million contract with the Blazers in the offseason, former Sixer Evan Turner is averaging 9.4 points, 3.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, all down from his four-year average while with the Sixers. 

• Nearly every Sixer received a player vote for the All-Star Game: Embiid (43), Sergio Rodriguez (8), T.J. McConnell (4), Okafor (4), Simmons (3), Jerryd Bayless (2), Robert Covington (2), Nerlens Noel (2), Gerald Henderson (1), Ersan Ilyasova (1), Richaun Holmes (1), Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot (1), Saric (1).