Phils Kick Off 4-Game Cincy Series With Important Hamels Start

Phils Kick Off 4-Game Cincy Series With Important Hamels Start

This past weekend was one of the more bizarre and unpredictable in recent memory of following the Phillies. Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and both the Saturday and Sunday games being canceled, the Phils will get back on the field after a pair of strange off days. It's the kind of break in a baseball season we only really ever see around the All-Star break (but not quite as long, obviously).

But not only will the Phillies be getting back to action for the first time since their loss to the Marlins on Friday night, Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.62) will be starting for the first time in 17 days. Will Hamels return to form after an extended rest or will the fatigue he mentioned after that poor showing against the Nationals on Auguest 12th linger?

Jim Salisbury goes so far as to say, "You could make a case that this is the most important start that any Phillies pitcher has made this season."

If I had to guess how Hamels bounces back, I think he'll respond well based on what he said in the clubhouse following that less-than-stellar outing against the Nationals coupled with what Rich Dubee said following his most recent bullpen session.

The Inquirer's Boop Stats adds that Hamels couldn't be returning against a better team. Despite them having a stacked lineup, Hamels career numbers against Cincy are fantastic.

Including the 2010 playoffs and his one appearance against earlier this season, he is 8-0, 1.23 ERA in nine starts and has held them to a .168 batting average.

Hamels will take on a Reds team that has been playing good ball lately, winners of 4 straight and 6 of their last 7. Right-hander Homer Bailey (7-5, 4.44) will start tonight for Cincinnati.

Even with the right-hander on the mound for the Reds, Charlie Manuel is going with John Mayberry Jr. in left field. Is this more telling of Raul Ibanez's groin still being a little sensitive or Mayberry's real solid play of late?

Tonight's Lineup vs. Cincy: Victorino, Polanco, Utley, Howard, Pence, Mayberry, Ruiz, Valdez, and Hamels.

Transaction: With Hamels coming off the DL today to make his start tonight, Pete Orr was sent down to make room on the roster.

7:10 start time from Cin-city. All eyes on Cole.

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Claude Giroux spent Friday signing virtual autographs as the cover athlete for Topps NHL Skate 2017, a new onilne digital trading card game. Remember when trading cards came in a bubble gum pack? 

After the event, Giroux sat down with CSN's Michael Barkann on Philly Sports Talk for a game of “Who Does It Better: Canada or the United States?”

The game started off with a few easy softball questions, with Giroux picking the NFL over the Candian Football League. Then it got a little tougher, as Giroux chose Canadian hockey over U.S. hockey.

Despite talents like Drake and Shania Twain, Giroux went with the U.S. over Canada in music, and also chose American bacon over Canadian bacon.

Eventually, Barkann asked Giroux which beer he preffered.

“I don’t drink beer," Giroux responded.

Really? What Canadian doesn't like beer?

As he started to get up out of his seat after the interview, Giroux showed his true colors. “I love beer. I love beer,” he said.

Check out the video above to see the full game. 

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the primary target of opponents over his Hall of Fame career, Wayne Gretzky can certainly empathize with the frustration of Oilers star Connor McDavid.

McDavid and Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning jostled all evening long in a 6-5 Edmonton loss. McDavid denounced the tactics of his opponent after the game, claiming Manning intentionally injured him last season; McDavid missed 37 games with a broken collarbone.

"I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that," said McDavid, who taunted Manning after scoring the second goal in the Oilers' loss.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here, knows that I am not that kind of player," Manning said, according to a statement released by the Flyers. "I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that."

Gretzky didn't mind seeing that fire in McDavid, saying competitiveness is part of what makes the great ones great. And he said the targeting comes with the territory of being a superstar. It was something he and Mario Lemieux dealt with, too.

"And Connor, he's going to get tested every night, but this is not new for him," Gretzky said Friday at the NHL board of governors meetings. "He's been tested since he was a kid and then playing junior hockey and now in the NHL and he's always responded and done his part."