Phils Win Game One, Turn to Cliff Lee Tonight to Inch Closer to NL East Crown

Phils Win Game One, Turn to Cliff Lee Tonight to Inch Closer to NL East Crown

Phillies fans must be encouraged after Kyle Kendrick went out and pitched 5.0 solid innings, giving up only two hits on the way to earning the victory. The win moved the Phils magic number to 3. Oh, and they turn to Clifton Phifer Lee tonight to try and knock another off that total and setup a potential division-clinching day on Friday.

In order for the Phillies to clinch the NL East crown on Friday, they need a win tonight against the Marlins, a win tomorrow against the Cardinals, and a Braves loss tomorrow night against the Mets in a game that starts at 7:35.

Today's 3-1 Victory

After Kendrick flirted with a no-no for four innings, Logan Morrison blasted a homer, but it was the only real damage done against KK.

Stutes pitched two solid scoreless innings, but Bastardo didn't look particularly sharp, walking a batter and giving up a hit while recording only one out in the eighth.

Is Bastardo's slight loss of velocity and recent stumbles a situation worth worrying about?

"We gotta get him back out there just like today, and get him throwing the ball  good again. We've got time. I think he'll be all right. I feel confident he's going to be okay," Charlie Manuel said of Bastardo following the game.

Madson gave up a pair of hits in the ninth, but it never really felt like he didn't have control of the victory.

As for the scoring, Hunter Pence scored Placido Polanco to put the Phils up early and Raul later plated Pence with a double off the wall. Ten straight years for 30 doubles or more for Raul. Quite a feat.

The highlight of the game for me was clearly Pete Orr's defensive prowess. Woo, Pete Orr! And Raul Ibanez actually threw a guy out at the plate late in the game. A rare sight.

Tonight's 7:35 Game

You've got to feel good about having Cliff Lee 16-7, 2.44) take the hill against green right-hander Alex Sanabia (0-0, 0.00). Lee's been a Cy Young pitcher the past few months and on a stretch as good as we've ever seen.

We'll update the post with tonight's lineup when it's posted, but look for Chase Utley to get a start. He came in to pinch hit tonight and ripped a single up the middle.

7:35 start time for game two.

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

ap-temple.jpg
The Associated Press

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

After winning its first American Athletic Conference championship Saturday, Temple learned its postseason fate Sunday and it does not involve a New Year's Six bowl game.

The Owls will play Wake Forest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. Temple also finished No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff rankings and No. 23 in the AP poll.

At 10-3, Temple has its first back-to-back 10-win season in program history. It's also the first time the Owls have been ranked in consecutive seasons. Head coach Matt Rhule now has 28 wins as Temple's head coach, tying him with Bruce Arians' for the sixth-most in school history.

Wake Forest finished the season 6-6 and on a three-game losing streak, but two of those three loses came to No. 2 Clemson and No. 13 Louisville. The Deamon Deacons have lost five of their last six games.

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers (13-10-3) at Predators (11-8-4)
6 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

The Flyers have won a season-high four games in a row. They'll try to make it five Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Let's take a look at five things you need to know.

1. Streaking like 2014?
Not only do the Flyers have a chance to extend their season-best winning streak, but they're also looking to win their most consecutive games since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five straight.

The Flyers have put up strong showings in the back ends of back-to-backs, going 4-1-1 thus far.

“You just have to have the work ethic night in and night out," Steve Mason said Saturday after the Flyers' 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. "And, I think we were struggling to find that. There are games when we were swarming and giving teams no other option, and other nights we were chasing the puck.

"We have another tough test going to Nashville to play. So, we’re going to have to follow up with another great effort.” 

2. A Provorov encore?
Ivan Provorov's confidence has to be at his highest of the season.

In Saturday's win, the 19-year-old blueliner scored two goals in a 31-second span to double his goal total through the first 25 games.

Provorov said he thinks defense first, but the offensive production is a good sign.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster."

3. Predators finding stride
After losing eight of their first 11 games, Peter Laviolette's Predators have gotten on track, going 8-3-1 since.

Nashville ranks in the top half of the league in goals per game (3.00 — tied for fifth), goals against per game (2.61 — 15th), power-play percentage (22.6 — sixth) and penalty-kill percentage (84.5 — 10th).

Last time out, the Predators blew a 4-1 lead in the third period for a 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday, so they should be extra focused.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: On Saturday, Brayden Schenn scored just his second goal in his past 18 games. Schenn can be streaky so maybe he feeds off that goal. He's also a career plus-4 against the Predators, with two goals and three assists in eight games.

Predators: Let's go P.K. Subban, who isn't exactly a favorite among Flyers fans. He's off to a nice start in his first season in Nashville with six goals and 10 assists, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 7-7-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• Claude Giroux is four assists away from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth on the Flyers’ all-time list.