Phils Finally Find Some Pop, Avoid Sweep

Phils Finally Find Some Pop, Avoid Sweep

"The most important game is the game you're playing."

That's what Cliff Lee had to say about the importance of winning Wednesday afternoon's tilt against Milwaukee to prevent the Phils first sweep of the season. Charlie Manuel felt a bit stronger about it though, saying that losing on Wednesday and heading out west coming off a sweep could send a team into a tailspin of sorts.

Thanks to the pop of Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino, the Phils don't have to worry about dealing with three straight losses as Cliff Lee kept his team in today's game long enough to give them a shot, and after days of silent bats, they found enough juice to beat the Brew Crew 4-3.

Cliff Lee got hit prety hard in this one, giving up 8 hits over 6 innings and allowing 3 runs, 2 of them earned with the unearned coming off a strange play in shallow right along the line that Wilson Valdez dropped after appearing to run it down nicely.

Lee didn't have his best stuff, and struggled a bit keeping his pitches down in the zone, but he avoided two big jams and kept the Phils to within 3 runs when he exited after the sixth.

It was in the bottom half of that inning that the Phillies bats finally found some life as Placido Polanco lifted one into the seats in left, waking the up-until-that-point quiet Citizens Bank Park crowd. Polly's blast ended a streak of 17.0 scoreless innings for the Phils offense. It was their first runs since the 9th inning on Monday.

The bullpen performed very well this afternoon, with Kyle Kendrick bouncing back in a huge way, working a 1-2-3 7th inning. Manuel mentioned after the game that if anyone got on, it would have been Bastardo's job to fix.

Madson worked a scoreless eighth, which set the table for Victorino to hit the hell out of a ball in the bottom half that landed way up in the bullpen in right center. [watch Shane's HR here]

Contreras allowed a hit in the ninth, but there was redepemtion for Valdez when he made a very dificult over-the-shoulder grab for the second out. If it had dropped, it would have been two men on base with only one out and potential trouble for the Big Truck.

If nothing else, the win sends the team out west on a positive note, and quells a bit of the panic that has been going on among the fanbase the past few games. They've still got to become more consitent, but they showed today that there's not a total power outage in the Phils clubhouse.

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

NEW YORK -- Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received a majority of votes for the first time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.

Bagwell , on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

"Anxiety was very, very high," Bagwell said. "I wrote it on a ball tonight. It was kind of cool."

In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.

Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.

Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.

Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.

Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.

Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.

A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.

Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones and Jim Thome in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.

Lee Smith, who had 478 saves, got 34 percent in his final time on the ballot. Jorge Posada, Tim Wakefield and Magglio Ordonez were among the players who got under 5 percent and fell off future ballots.

Brown: 'No chance' Ben Simmons plays vs. Rockets next week

Brown: 'No chance' Ben Simmons plays vs. Rockets next week

Brett Brown squashed any chatter of Ben Simmons playing in the Sixers’ Jan. 27 nationally televised game against the Rockets.

“There is no chance,” Brown said Wednesday before the Sixers took on the Raptors.

On Tuesday the NBA announced the Sixers' matchup with the Rockets was added to the ESPN lineup while the Heat at Bulls game was dropped. 

That night, Simmons posted two photos on Instagram: a picture of him in Sixers warmup gear at the Wells Fargo Center with the staring eyes emoji and later a post of himself working out at the training complex. 

“I am a social media hermit. I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Brown said. “But I do know that there is no chance that he will play then.”

Simmons has been sidelined the entire season since suffering a Jones fracture in his right foot during training camp. The team has reiterated there is no timetable for his return.