Phils Go for Memorial Day Weekend Sweep at Citi

Phils Go for Memorial Day Weekend Sweep at Citi

Timely hitting, runs scored—who is this Phillies team we've been watching at Citi Field these past few days, exactly? Perhaps that 19-inning win flipped a switch with our guys, a test of endurance that once proven, has given them a new sense of confidence and purpose. Or perhaps it has something to do with the return of guys named Chase Utley and Domonic Brown to our starting lineup, at the expense of offensive powerhouses like Pete Orr and Ben Francisco. It's a rich tapestry, no doubt, but whatever the reason, the Phillies have scored five or more runs in each of their last four games—all wins—after only doing so once in their twelve games prior.

It's pretty sweet, especially considering that five runs is almost always going to be enough these days, with our starting rotation locking down the other side of the ball. Cole was the hero last night, getting his first-ever win in Queens, but today, we call on a Mr. Vance Worley, who since joining the staff, has done a much better job playing the "Guy who should be the one dude in the rotation that other teams don't dread facing" role than the injured Joe Blanton. In fact, Worley hasn't missed a beat backing up the four aces in his three starts this year, going 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA. It probably won't last—unless it doesn't really matter who the Phillies throw out as a starter this year, but wearing the uniform is enough to turn any Joe Schmo starter into a Cy Young candidate. It's a possibility.

1:10 first pitch from Citi Field, with the reliably mediocre Jon Niese taking the hill for the Metropolitans. A win today would give the Phils their first three-game road sweep in New York since they were clawing back to the top of the NL East back in September '07. "Every start matters. Everything counts,” Worley told the Phils' web site.  “I just want to have the best stuff I can to help them out and give us a chance to win." We'll try to spot you some runs again today, Vance, just to be on the safe side. Maybe even before the eighth inning this time.

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

NEW ORLEANS -- Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to co-exist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right Jones fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.