Red Sox-Phillies: A Series Preview

Red Sox-Phillies: A Series Preview

It's nice that we can have ourselves a Boston-Philadelphia series these
days without the primary storyline having anything to do with the city
of New York. In 2011, the Phillies and Red Sox are good enough and
established enough in their own right that there's no second-city
inferiority complex necessary—these teams have more than enough positive
recent history now, and they're building a nice little rivalry of their
own. And this time, the two will meet as arguably the two best teams in
baseball, in a series that will see the phrase "World Series Preview"
mentioned more than once
.

Sox-Phils has made for some great interleague action the last few
years, though unfortunately for us, most of it has ended up favoring
Boston. Last year alone, there was Daisuke's no-hitter through seven,
Daniel Nava's grand slam in his first-ever at bat, and a combined 22-4
Boston beatdown of Philly over the course of two games. Boston won four
of six in that season and 11 of 15 total since they started visiting
Citizens' Bank Park. "I think we’ve had a hard time beating them
in the past, the last five or six years I’ve been here," Charlie
recently reminisced. "It would be nice
to win
a series. We need to come out Tuesday and make sure we play good against
them." 

Yeah, it would be nice. The Phils are 5-4 in
interleague play this year—a respectable record, but hardly the
authoritative beatdown that the NL's best and brightest should be
providing of the hated AL, especially considering the team has been
facing off against the weak squads of the AL West. A series win against
the Red Sox, something the Fightins just haven't been able to secure
even in their contending years against the Beantowners, would be huge
for the guys, proving they can hang with the big guns of the AL and all
but ensuring them a winning interleague record.

As is almost always the case at this time in the season, neither
team will be arriving at the showdown with their arsenal fully stocked.
The Phillies are still down two starters and two closers, and with Roy
Halladay pitching on Sunday night against Oakland, the Sox will be
getting a reprieve from facing off against their old friend from
Toronto. Meanwhile, the Sox are missing two big guns from their starting
lineup—big off-season acquisition Carl Crawford, who had finally
started showing signs of being the player the Sox thought they purchased
for $142 mil in December but is now out with a hamstring injury, and
David Ortiz, on pace for one of the best seasons of his career, but
relegated to pinch-hitting duties in this series due to the DH being
unavailable in interleague play. Still, there should be plenty of star
power to go around between the two teams, as evidenced by the marquee
matchup of tonight's series opener: Cliff Lee vs. Josh Beckett, two of
the hottest starters in baseball right now.

The eyes of the baseball world will be on Philly this week for what
is in all likelihood the most highly anticipated interleague series of
the 2011 season. Maybe it's a playoff preview and maybe (probably) it
isn't, but as far as regular-season action goes, you're not gonna get
much more exciting than this. Soak it all in these next three days—and
if you happen to head down to the ballpark, be sure to say hi to JD Drew
and Terry Francona for us.

Union transfer contract of Michael Lahoud to Miami FC

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Union transfer contract of Michael Lahoud to Miami FC

The Union have cashed in on Michael Lahoud.

After terminating his loan to the New York Cosmos on Tuesday, the Union recalled Lahoud and officially sold the 29-year-old midfielder to Miami FC of the NASL for an undisclosed amount.

“Mike always served the club in a professional manner during his time here,” said Union sporting director Earnie Stewart, who loaned Lahoud to the Cosmos this offseason. “We thank him for his service and want to wish him the best of luck in Miami and in his future endeavors.”

Lahoud, whose prorated $115,637.50 guaranteed salary comes off the Union’s salary cap, was acquired in 2012 in a trade with Chivas USA for defender Danny Califf. He made 58 appearances with the Union before being loaned out.

Eagles' left guard job is Allen Barbre's, but backups are pushing

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Eagles' left guard job is Allen Barbre's, but backups are pushing

Allen Barbre is the Eagles’ starting left guard.

For now.

The 31-year-old offensive lineman started all 16 games at left guard in 2015, and as of Tuesday at OTAs, he was still a starter for Doug Pederson’s new-look offense.

But that could change.

There are several players pushing for the left guard spot. Among them are Stefen Wisniewski, Malcolm Bunche, Isaac Seumalo and Andrew Gardner.

“I definitely am trying to start somewhere,” said Wisniewski, a free-agent signing. “I think I would be a good starting left guard.”

Wisniewski, 27, signed a one-year prove-it deal in early April to join the Eagles (see story). After being taken in the second round of the 2011 draft, Wisniewski has started 77 of 80 possible games in the NFL. He clearly views himself as a starter in the NFL.

For the last two weeks, he’s been working with the second team at guard and center.

“Yeah, it’s weird. It’s definitely weird,” Wisniewski said. “I haven’t spent much time with the twos in five years. Probably a week or two. So it’s definitely different, but I’m just looking at it as a temporary thing, though.”

This offseason, the Eagles added veteran Brandon Brooks to play right guard, taking over for Matt Tobin, but Barbre is still slotted on the left side. In fact, to hammer the point home, the starting offensive linemen have their lockers in a row in the deep corner of the locker room, from left to right: Jason Peters, Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brooks, Lane Johnson.

So, as of late May, Barbre is still the starter.

“I really like where we're at. I like the depth at that position right now,” Pederson said last week. “But yeah, Allen Barbre is my guy and he's our starter.”

Wisniewski is the most accomplished of the backups pushing for that starting left guard spot, but he’s not alone.

Bunche, who was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2015 after going undrafted out of UCLA, has been working with the second team at left guard during practice. And the second-year player thinks he has a shot at the starting job too.

“Oh yes. But not just that one,” Bunche said. “Throughout the season, anything can happen. That’s one thing that [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland], he talks about it a lot, you never know when you’re number is going to be called. You just gotta stay in tune with what’s being called, the play-calling, the different techniques going into certain games. I feel I have an opportunity to take that spot if I wanted to. My mindset it to come in and get better each and every day.”

Another possible starting left guard isn’t with the team right now. Third-round pick Seumalo, from Oregon State, is back at school because of the NFL graduation rule and Oregon State’s quarters system. He would be a logical choice to compete for that starting job, but he’s missing valuable time at OTAs.

Meanwhile, Barbre, who had started just eight total games in his seven-year career before 2015, is trying to stave off his competitors. The veteran knows the team brought in a bunch of new offensive linemen this offseason (they have 17 on the roster). He just doesn’t care.

“Honestly, I wasn’t really worried about that,” Barbre said Tuesday. “Honestly, I thought I played fairly decent (in 2015), if you studied the film and you understood what went on. There was a lot of stuff that was tough on the O-line, so it made it kind of tough on us.”

The criticism of the offensive line last season was loud, especially criticism of the guard positions, but Barbre did his best to avoid it.  

“I don’t even read it,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t even care. You guys got your jobs and I have my job. We all have different things we have to do.”

Right now, Barbre’s job is to hold onto that starting spot, while Wisniewski and the rest try to steal it away.

Tonight's lineup: After benching, Odubel Herrera back in leadoff spot

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Tonight's lineup: After benching, Odubel Herrera back in leadoff spot

It seems like Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has decided pulling Odubel Herrera in the seventh inning of a tied game on Monday is enough punishment for failing to run out a ground ball.

The centerfielder will be back in his customary leadoff spot when the Phillies take on Justin Verlander and the Tigers tonight at Comerica Park (see game notes).

Much of the talk surrounding the Phillies in the last 24 hours has centered on Herrera after Mackanin yanked him from the game Monday (see story). After all, Herrera's .335 batting average leads an offense-starved team that averages just 3.24 runs per game, second-worst in the majors. Before he was pulled on Monday, Herrera was 3 for 4 with an RBI and had a 15-pitch at-bat against starter Mike Pelfrey to start the game.

Tommy Joseph will start again at first base after clobbering his second homer of the season on Monday. Despite another night of immense struggles (see story), Ryan Howard is again in the lineup as the designated hitter in the American League park.

The only change to to the lineup from Monday see Carlos Ruiz starting behind the plate to catch Jeremy Hellickson.

Star outfielder Justin Upton will sit again for Detroit as he nurses a quad injury. Mike Aviles will start in his place in left.

Both teams' lineups can be found below. (Updated, 5:43 p.m. — Tigers leadoff man Ian Kinsler has been scratched because of flu-like symptoms.)

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera CF
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Maikel Franco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Ryan Howard DH
6. Carlos Ruiz C
7. Cesar Hernandez 2B
8. Tyler Goeddel LF
9. Peter Bourjos RF

Tigers
1. Cameron Maybin CF
2. J.D. Martinez RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B
4. Victor Martinez DH
5. Nick Castellanos 3B
6. Steven Moya LF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
8. Mike Aviles 2B
9. Jose Iglesias SS