Raul and Benny Provide the Long-Lost Pop, Halladay and Madson Deliver

Raul and Benny Provide the Long-Lost Pop, Halladay and Madson Deliver

The big story on Friday afternoon was Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies about-face on whether or not to bring up Dom Brown from Lehigh Valley as Shane Victorino headed to the DL. Part of the reason the team finally decided to make the move to bring Brown up to the big club was the total lack of production from the team as whole on offense and very lackluster play from the outfield specifically.

The big story Friday night was the bats of the two guys Brown's presence on the roster could affect the most. Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez provided all the offense tonight, as Francisco hit a two run shot in the second and Ibanez sent a solo blast into the ivy in center in the fourth. Phils' skipper Charlie Manuel likes what he's seen from Raul since breaking out of his Oh-for-what-seemed-like-eternity slump earlier in the season.

"He's been swinging the bat pretty good," Manuel said of Ibanez. "He got two hits last night. Got a home run tonight. His swings been getting better."

While Raul has been hitting pretty well as of late, Ben Francisco hadn't hit an extra-base hit since the Paul Reiser Show went off the air (April 27th). When asked about Dom Brown's arrival today and what it could mean to him, Francisco said he can only focus on his own game.

"I gotta go out there and play. When I get to play, I've got to play well," Francisco said. "Doesn't matter what anyone else does, it's on me."

The team didn't exactly light their bats on fire this evening, however, only notching two singles in addition to their two long balls. Francisco says all it takes is for one guy to get going and the whole offense will follow.

"Hitting is contagious. For us, we're not making pitchers work," Francisco said. "When they get in a groove, it's kind of tough for anybody to get hits because they start going through the lineup easily and it's tough to string hits together. All it takes is for one guy to get hot and I think everybody else will follow."

Howard's Slump

One guy who could certainly take any sort of help he can get at the plate is Ryan Howard, who was 0-3 on the night, pushing his ugly hitless streak to 0-23. Charlie Manuel was asked what he's been seeing out of Howard at the dish.

"When he hits the ball into the shift, it seems like he's hitting the ball right at the guy," Manuel said. "Of course he's striking out. I don't think he's seeing the ball real good right now. He's late sometimes when he's hitting."

Halladay Delivers

Roy Halladay was typically great. Despite some infuriating calls from the home plate ump, making both teams brains hurt, Roy kept his composure and kept making his pitches. Charlie Manuel said Doc's superior command allows him to adjust accordingly.

"Roy's command is what really sets him apart," Manuel said. "He can make adjustments to bring the ball a little closer to the plate. When he gets a lot of balls on what Icall the big part of the plate, that's when he gets hurt. Most of the time he makes good adjustments, up or down, whatever. If the guys giving him the low ball he'll stay down."

While Chuck says Doc is capable of making the necessary adjustments, Halladay says the shaky strikzone doesn't change his approach at all.

"None," Halladay said as to what kind of adjustments he made. "Really just tried to stay the same. I think after the second or third inning, he was pretty consistent. You just stay there. You can't really do a whole lot. If they're close, you just consistently be there. I think sometimes the more you hit that spot, hopefully you'll get the pitches later. They were definitely close pitches. I thought that they were strikes, but you just stay there, you don't change."

Doc threw 116 pitches and maintained a one run lead heading into the ninth. Ryan Madson shut the door on the Rangers for the save and once again showed some excitement after the win. Hopefully that becomes a new Phillies tradition.

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.