Rauuuuuuuuul! Walks It Off

Rauuuuuuuuul! Walks It Off

What a day for Raul Ibanez! All the oft maligned Phillies left fielder did today was hit two home runs, 4 RBIs, and the walkoff winner to complete the sweep of the Pirates.

And Hunter Pence came through to score the game winning run and offered some fantastic quotes to Sarge postgame:

"Good game, let's go eat!"

More on the game below.

Yesterday, the Phils won on a huge day at the plate by Ryan Howard. Today, Raul Ibanez was the hero, homering twice, then collecting his fourth RBI of the day on a walkoff double that scored Hunter Pence.

The win capped a sweep of the Pirates and a 17-8 July for the Phillies. With the Braves losing their 10,000th game ever on Sunday, the Phils will enter August with a six-game lead in the NL East.

"Let's go eat" may not even be the Hunter Pence Quote of the Day. In that post-game chat with Sarge, Pence was undeniably excited to have just taken part in a meaningful baseball moment (probably the first time in a long time, considering the team situation he just came from). Here's Pence on his new digs:

"It's good to be on a scrappy team that can play some ball."

We bet. We know it's good to be a fan of a team that stays scrappy no matter how much success it has. Hunter, Raul and company got a great response from the CBP faithful, who long ago learned not to count this team out when they're down in the later innings.

Ibanez had a productive month of July, with 24 RBI since the 5th. By Todd Zolecki's math, that's the most any MLB player had over that stretch. His 16 homers in 2011 match his entire 2010 total.

In his two games as a Phillie, Pence hasn't had the best luck. Those who weren't able to see the games but checked out the box scores afterward would miss a few details. Yesterday, Pence was called out in his first at bat, despite having beaten the throw. Here's a good look at that.

Today, Pence's line read 1-4, but he wasn't credited with what probably should have wound up a hit. With Ryan Howard on second, Pence hit a grounder deep to short, possibly hard enough a play that he might've beaten the thrown. But two things happened that made the play result in a fielder's choice. First, Howard ran when he shouldn't have. Second, Howard appeared to beat the throw to third, but was called out because, to be honest, he looked out in real time. Regardless, Pence was on base when Ibanez smacked his second homer of the day.

The Phillies have gotten some nice plate appearances from their pitchers in the past two games. On Saturday, Cliff Lee had a pair of hits and a sacrifice. Vance Worley followed that up with a hit and a sac of his own, with the latter moving Michael Martinez into scoring position. Jimmy Rollins came to the plate next and doubled, scoring Mike Mart.

Worley got off to a great start on the mound, including striking out five batters in a row over the first through third innings. He'd end the day with seven K's, but was also charged with four earned runs over six innings.

The Phils head out to Colorado for a three-game set with the Rockies starting tomorrow.

[watch Ibanez's walkoff winner against the Pirates here]

Previously (July 9th): Rauuuuuuul Walks It Off


Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles are coming off two straight losses and the slate doesn't get any easier with the 5-0 Vikings coming to town.

It also marks the return of Sam Bradford, who was traded just before Week 1, paving the way for rookie Carson Wentz to start.

The Eagles kick off against Minnesota at the Linc on Sunday at 1 p.m., so it's time for our (cough) experts' predictions for the Week 7 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (2-3)
I'll admit, this game just has a weird feel. It has the feeling like the Eagles might be able to catch the Vikings sleeping after their bye week and hand them their first loss of the season.

I was almost tempted to pick the Birds in this one.

But I'm not.

Ultimately, the Vikings are just the better team. I'm not sure how the Eagles are going to put up points against them. And I'm not convinced the Eagles' defense will be able to stop anyone after what we saw last weekend.

They keep it close, but the Birds fall to 3-3.

Vikings 20, Eagles 17

Derrick Gunn (2-3)
The good news is Minnesota's offense is ranked 30th in the league and the Vikings' run game is dead last averaging 70.6 yards per game. 

The bad news is the Vikings' defense is a monster, ranked 2nd overall and first in points allowed at 12.6.

There is not a weak link in the Vikings' D and they are fundamentally sound across the board. The Eagles' defense vows that what happened to them at Washington — allowing 230 rushing yards — won't happen again. 

Carson Wentz got roughed up by the Redskins' pass rush, and unless the Eagles' offensive line plugs the leaks, more of the same could happen this Sunday. The Birds have every reason to rebound at home, but I just don't like the overall matchup. 

Vikings 20, Eagles 13

Ray Didinger (2-3)
The Vikings aren't going undefeated. You don't go 16-0 in the NFL with a 30th ranked offense which is what the Vikings have. Yes, their defense is very good. Going back to last season they have held each of their last nine opponents to 17 points or less. They are deep, fast and well-coached by Mike Zimmer. But the offense led by Sam Bradford coughs and sputters a lot.
As a result, the Vikings will play a lot of close, low-scoring games and somewhere along the line they are going to lose. It could even happen this week when they play the Eagles. Special teams could be huge. The Eagles have a big edge with kicker Caleb Sturgis. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has already missed three field goals and two PATs. However, the Vikings return men -- Marcus Sherels on punts, Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs -- are very dangerous. I expect the Eagles to keep it close but in the end I have to go with the superior defense.
Vikings 21, Eagles 16

Andrew Kulp (2-3)
Which Eagles defense shows up on Sunday? If they can limit Minnesota's anemic ground attack, which ranks dead last in the NFL, this should be a close game. Sam Bradford is playing really well, but it's not like he's airing it out all over the place.

Then it becomes a question of how Halapoulivaati Vaitai responds to a rough debut. The Vikings pass-rush is fierce, so it doesn't get any easier this week. As long as the protection gives Carson Wentz a chance, that will at least give the rookie signal-caller a shot at making a few big plays.

For some reason, I like their chances at both. It's going to be another ugly one, but the Eagles do just enough to squeak by.

Eagles 20, Vikings 19

Corey Seidman (2-3)
I foresee a low-scoring game in which the Eagles are more competitive than some might think.

But in the end, the Vikings have the personnel and the defensive-minded head coach (Mike Zimmer) to get key stops down the stretch.

Vikings 20, Eagles 16

Andy Schwartz (1-4)
You’re still reading? 

Well good for you. Much appreciated. 

Because clearly I certainly don’t know what to expect from this team. 

But let’s forget all that for the moment and look at the Bradford Bowl. 

The Vikings’ offense is hardly scary (30th in the league in yards per game behind the Rams and Niners), but their defense is (second in yards per game behind Seattle).

The Eagles’ offense is hardly scary (22nd in yards per game), and their defense (sixth in yards per game) was pretty scary a few weeks ago.

So let’s look at the intangibles. Which team needs this game more? The Eagles. And they’re at home. 

But given the outcomes the last two weeks and that Minnesota is unbeaten and coming off a bye, it certainly makes sense to pick the Vikes, who are favored by 2.5.

Then again, the Eagles not too long ago were unbeaten and coming off a bye … and we all know what happened.

So I’ll say the Birds pull off another upset and remain unbeaten at the Linc. 

Just don’t bet on it.

Eagles 6, Vikings 5

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.