Right Back: Phils-Reds Take the Field 12 Hours Later

Right Back: Phils-Reds Take the Field 12 Hours Later

If you think you're tired after last night's 19-inning marathon, how about what the arms and legs must be feeling like for the Phillies and Reds, almost all of whom saw action less than a half-day ago? Get your Bloody Mary ingredients ready, because it's time to get some hair of the dog in ya and settle in for another 9(ish) innings. 

The Phils have to be hoping Cliff Lee can give them a long outing today, with every available member of their bullpen throwing last night. David Herndon was optioned to AAA this morning in order to bring back Jose Contreras, who did not pitch yesterday after throwing 2 innings the day before.

Everyone's hero and mine, Wilson Valdez, will get the start at third base after starting second and PITCHING A CLEAN 19TH INNING last night. Utility man indeed. Michael Martinez will lead off and play short, giving a breather to Jimmy Rollins, who had a hell of a game in the field last night and also scored the winning run. Dom Brown bats second, followed by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, John Mayberry, Valdez, Dane Sardinha, and Cliff Lee.  

WINNING, BEFORE IT BECAME A DUMB CHARLIE SHEEN THING

It's every bit the makeshift lineup you'd expect in a day game after a night like that, but we fully expect the Phillies to come out amped up and ready to win this series. They reminded us again last night that they are a group of winners. It may sound overrated or whimsical, but look at what Wilson Valdez did. He was in a position where he had basically no real expectations placed on him. A manager is basically conceding a run or two when putting a position player with extremely limited pitching experience on the mound, with no other options but to do so, and hoping his guys can get a few back in the home half of the inning.  

Instead, Valdez shuts out the heart of a dangerous lineup, including the reigning NL MVP, and some field employee has a pool of Gatorade to clean up in the visiting dugout.  

Immediately following that scoreless Valdez frame, after not scoring for hours, the Phillies offense came out and got him a win. It hasn't all been pretty lately, and the memorable game doesn't erase any and all concerns over the team's offense, but it did confirm that they are a winning group.   

Hopefully they can bring that energy to the plate again today and support Lee's bid against righty Homer Bailey, who has pitched very well through four starts this season (3-1, 2.08 ERA, 0.88 WHIP).

La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

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La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

RICHMOND, Va. -- Justin Tillman had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead five VCU players in double figures in a 90-52 victory over La Salle on Sunday.

VCU held La Salle to 15 made field goals and forced 16 turnovers.

VCU went on a 19-0 first-half run -- with 11 points from JeQuan Lewis -- for a 38-14 lead and the Rams led 42-16 at halftime after shooting 51.5 percent. Lewis made 5 of 6 shots and had 13 of his 15 points in the first half.

Samir Doughty added 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Burgess scored 10. Tillman was 7 of 10 from the field as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.

Jordan Price and Saul Phiri each scored 11 points for La Salle (11-6, 5-2) and Pookie Powell added 10. It was a season-high for the freshman Phiri but the Explorers were just 15-of-53 shooting (28.3 percent).

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

Well, if anyone hoped the Sixers' performance at game's end against Portland on Friday night -- with Joel Embiid riding the bench, ruled out for the game's remainder with a left knee contusion -- would carry over to an entirely Embiid-less game again Saturdaynight... I guess you're not alone, 'coz I sorta did. Perhaps it shouldn't have been particularly surprising to see that the Sixers were still the same team last night in Atlanta they were the previous Saturday against the Wizards: good enough to hang against an above-average East team, but not nearly good enough to actually win. 

At least they kept this one closer longer. Normally, against the Hawks, once the single-digit lead in the first half balloons into the double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never deflates back, but this time we cut it down to seven a couple times -- just never hitting that one big shot that would've really made things interesting, ultimately losing 110-93. It doesn't help that Nik Stauskas is in the midst of one of his most refrigerated runs as a Sixer, going just 7-30 (3-16 from deep) over Philly's last five games, or that Dario Saric is similarly bricking shots near and wide, a remarkable 2 for 22 over his last couple contests. 

This, sadly, is a primary reason why the Sixers' playoff hopes, while fun to dream about, are still unlikely to be more than a flicker. Over the next few weeks, the Sixers have a trio of back-to-backs coming up, with the back-end games coming against Milwaukee, Sacramento and San Antonio -- none of which Philly, 2-12 without their star center, are probable to win sans JoJo. Even if they can take care of business with Embiid on the court, it'll be tough to make up the ground that the Sons of Sam need to while they have to drop one every three or four games as Joel sits. 

That's fine, though. This season's been super-fun, but we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves: Let's ensure Embiid's health, maybe get Ben Simmons out there too, secure a nice draft pick or two (though the plummeting Kings could be of significant help with that themselves), and focus on making next year even more of a thing. The future remains impossibly bright, even if the present is going to have to be borderline-unwatchable once or twice a week.