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.

Carson Wentz goes through lengthy pregame warmup in Indy

Carson Wentz goes through lengthy pregame warmup in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS -- Carson Wentz isn't playing on Saturday night against the Colts, but the No. 2 overall pick might have a chance to play in the preseason finale on Thursday, which has been the hope all along. 

Wentz went through a lengthy pregame warmup -- about an hour -- on Saturday as his teammates prepared to face Andrew Luck and the Colts. Long after Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel went into the locker room, Wentz continued to throw. 

This week's pregame warmup was much more intense than the one he was put through last week in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, he dropped back to throw and looked smooth throwing on the run, even across his body. Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo put Wentz through the hour-long workout on Saturday. Leaving the field after the workout, offensive coordinator Frank Reich agreed that Wentz looked good. 

The real test will be the X-ray, because no matter how good he feels or how much he lobbies, he'll need to be cleared before he's allowed to return. Shortly after the injury, Wentz said practice would be determined by his pain tolerance and game action would be determined by medical personnel. If he doesn't play against the Jets, it could be a while before Eagles fans get to see their quarterback of the future. 

Another hurdle is the short week of practice thanks to a Thursday game coming after a Saturday game. 

"It's interesting because next week we only got really two days of practice," Doug Pederson said earlier in the week. "We'll see. We'll evaluate him through the weekend. [We’ll] take him on this trip and work him out a little bit when we get to Indy [Indianapolis], and then again next Monday and Tuesday. We've got to at least get a day's work with him in order for him to go in the game next Thursday."

Along with Wentz, there are several other Eagles who won't play against the Colts: Aaron Grymes, Alex McCalister, Joe Walker, Jordan Matthews, Isaac Seumalo and Mike Martin.

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

After watching his club get smacked around in a 9-4 loss to the Mets on Friday, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has tinkered with his lineup for Saturday's game at Citi Field.

Odubel Herrera moves up to the two-hole after hitting sixth Friday, while Aaron Altherr goes from second to third and Jimmy Paredes gets the start in left and bats seventh. Ryan Howard starts again at first base and bats fifth.

Herrera, who has been struggling since the All-Star break with a .257 average, has lost his leadoff spot to Cesar Hernandez but is starting to find his swing again.

In the last seven days, Herrera is 5 for 17 with a double and a run scored. In August, the centerfielder is hitting .288 with two homers and five RBIs.

Altherr, who played left field Friday, moves over to right field and Peter Bourjos gets the night off. Altherr is hitting .255 with four home runs and 19 RBIs on the season.

Here is the full Phillies lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, RF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P

For more on tonight's's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes.

Jake Metz, Soul credit strong 4th-quarter defensive effort for championship win

Jake Metz, Soul credit strong 4th-quarter defensive effort for championship win

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Despite the Soul leading by three touchdowns early in ArenaBowl XXIX, there was little cheering from the their bench.

Given the volatility that is Arena League football and the frequency from which teams can strike, the approach remained resolute and determined. Defensive tackle Jake Metz kept the mindset of a scoreless game and could not stop hearing words coming from Ron Jaworski, a highly vocal partner in the Soul’s ownership.

“He kept yelling that offense gets headlines but defense wins championships,” said Metz, who currently lives in Schwenksville, Montgomery County, and went to Shippensburg University. “That resounded with me, and brought the championship.”

Metz and his defensive teammates then went out and shut down a highly hazardous and explosive Arizona Rattlers offensive unit en route to a 56-42 win (see story). Led by quarter Nick Davila, the only three-time MVP in Arena Football League history, the Rattlers could manage only seven points in a critical fourth quarter.

At the same time, Metz recovered a fumble by Davila with the Soul holding a slim six-point margin with just under six minutes to play. That turnover was the key point in the Soul’s eventual win, and cemented the role of the defense as a shut-down unit.

On the subsequent possession, Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh connected with Shaun Kauleinamoku on a 30-yard scoring strike. That created a 14-point comfort zone and the final margin of victory.

“These players deserve this championship,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “This is a first class organization and ownership gives the players a first-class experience. That way, we can attract great players, and with great players comes success.”

In capturing the league title Friday night, the victory was the second in franchise history. In 2008, the Soul and Phillies each won championships, and that was the last time a professional team captured a title in Philadelphia.

Metz remembers the Phillies' win over the Rays, and pointed out, “I went to those games as a kid.” That championship stuck with the 6-foot-6, 265 pounder, and helped to forge a championship mentality.

Early in the fourth quarter, Arizona caught the Soul at 42-42. From that point, Raudabaugh directed two scoring drives, and along with Metz’s important fumble recovery, carried the Soul to the title.

“It’s all about how you respond,” said Raudabaugh, who finished with 20 for 36 for 278 yards and six touchdowns. “Granted, they have a very explosive team, but we were never out it. They did come back, but we had an answer for them.”

The answer was a strong defense which Dolezel indicated was playing at their peak just prior to the title game.

Defensive back Tracy Belton, the AFL defensive player of the year and DB Dwayne Hollis, whose fumble recovery for a touchdown early in the game was another key defensive play, clearly showed how a defense can carry a team to a league title. That was the effort the Soul brought together in an environment as unpredictable as the Arena Football League.