Role Reversal: Phils Blow Early Lead, Series Tied 1-1

Role Reversal: Phils Blow Early Lead, Series Tied 1-1

The Phillies opened the NLDS with a dramatic come-from-behind victory on Saturday night, mashing their way out of a 3-0 first inning hole. On Sunday, they returned the favor to the Cardinals, losing a 5-4 game they'd led 3-0 after one.

A game billed as an aces' duel ended with 19 total hits, only a pair of which came off of the teams' combined relievers. Cliff Lee opened the game in dominant fashion, and his offense responded by pouncing all over Chris Carpenter in the bottom of the first. Carp looked stressed in his four innings, clearly frustrated by not getting calls he thought he should've. He was pinch-hit for in the fourth to try to keep a Cards rally going, and it seemed a great thing that Tony LaRussa would be going to his bullpen so early.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals' bullpen completely shut down the Phillies' offense, allowing no runs on only one hit through six innings. Their lineup's three-run fourth erased Lee's shutout, and while the Phils floundered against a handful of St. Louis relievers, the Cards found a way to eek out the tying run in the sixth and the go-ahead in the seventh. That spelled the end of Lee's night, and his offense was unable to pick him up.

On the evening after the Eagles choked away a very winnable game, watching the Phils lose a lead was that much more painful. Everything seemed to be going right early on, with Ryan Howard singling in JRoll and Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez bringing in Hunter Pence all within the game's first frame. Pence added a fourth run when he singled in JRoll in the second, and the Phils looked to be on their way.

Lee threw nine strikeouts, but he saw some Cards hits fall in behind him, and the Phillies couldn't touch the six relievers LaRussa sent out.  

In a televised segment from the Cardinals' bullpen, LaRussa complained about the strike zone Carpenter was getting as compared to that of Lee. Carp had nowhere near the command that Lee did early on and clearly didn't have his best stuff. After the game, Lee was asked about the strike zone as well, but he answered with a "Whatever," and proceeded to take his share of the responsibility for the loss without an ounce of blame for anyone else.

LaRussa's players were chirping too, and Jerry Meals continued to have an inconsistent strike zone. However, neither team won or lost because of the calls from behind the plate.

The Phils' veteran bats got off to a great start, but fizzled quickly and left the door open for the Cards to even the series before it heads back to St. Louis.

JRoll had three hits and a pair of runs scored. Howard picked up where left off last night, notching a pair of RBI on his first hit. Now he heads home to St. Louis, where he's usually pretty fantastic at the plate. The bullpen was solid, working three scoreless innings. Ibanez connected with Carlos Ruiz to gun down Jon Jay at the plate in the fourth, despite Jay slamming hard into Chooch.

Albert Pujols has been noticeably hobbled through the series' first two games, and CSN's Leslie Gudel reported after the game that he opted to take a cart ride out of the locker room, as opposed to walking with the team. Pujols had a pair of hits and an RBI on the night. 

The sellout crowd of 46,575 was announced to be the largest ever crowd at Citizens Bank Park. Gotta feel particularly bad for the fans who caught both of today's Philly sports losses.

Cole Hamels faces Jaime Garcia at 5:07 PM on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Photo by Howard Smith-US Presswire

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out


MIAMI — Jahlil Okafor called it a “tease.”

He was talking about his oh-so-brief 2016-2017 debut, but he could have also been summarizing the Sixers' constant state of taking one step forward and one (injured) leg back.

Okafor, a 6-11 center and the NBA’s third overall pick in the 2015 draft, played 7:32 minutes on Friday and produced four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover. He had been held out in camp previously because of knee soreness.

His return was the good news for the Sixers.

But, before Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat even started (see Instant Replay), the Sixers announced that center/forward Nerlens Noel will have a “minor surgical procedure in the coming days,” (see story).

Sixers center Joel Embiid, who has missed the past two years because of foot surgeries, said he empathizes with Noel.

“It’s hard,” Embiid said. “Obviously we need Nerlens if we want to win. But that’s basketball. Things happen. You can’t control injuries.

“I feel bad for him because this is the beginning of the season. Everybody wants to play the beginning of the season. But I’m sure he is going to work hard to come back even stronger.”

On the positive side for the Sixers, there was the return of Okafor … even it felt like baby steps for him.

“I started to feel really good,” said Okafor, who had surgery on his right knee in March and experienced soreness on that same knee Sept. 30. “It was kind of like a tease to me because I really got going. I wanted to continue to play, but that’s why I have the medical staff to keep me disciplined.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game that he would keep Okafor to just six to eight minutes, and he was true to his word.

Okafor, who made the only shot he attempted from the floor and was 2 for 4 on free throws, did not play in the second half.

“The scoring piece to my game, that’s like riding a bicycle,” Okafor said. “I know I can score the ball. It was good to get back out there with my teammates and hear them cheer for me on the side.”

Okafor said he tried to convince Brown to let him extend past the script of no more than eight minutes.

“He was like, ‘Have your lawyer call my lawyer,'" Okafor said. “We will talk about the season home opener (on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City), and hopefully I can increase my minutes.”

Okafor said he didn’t want to put a number on how many minutes he thought he could’ve played in his season debut except to say he knew he could play more.

Interestingly, Embiid, who had 18 points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes, said he felt Okafor was a bit fatigued.

“I think he was a little bit tired,” Embiid said. “Obviously, he hasn’t played in a while. But just like me, he’s going to dig down. He is a proven scorer. He can do whatever he wants on the court.

“Once he gets back in shape, we as a team are going to be really good.”

Okafor was a minus-5 while he was on the court. But Brown said he was impressed by some of the less-hyped aspects of Okafor’s game.

“I thought he was really good defensively,” Brown said. “He sat in his stance and moved his feet. I thought he did a great job of fronting the post.”

Brown said the Noel injury was almost unfair.

“Clearly, it was a situation in the preseason where he would have played a lot,” Brown said. “The timing is unfortunate.”

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs

Penn Athletics

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Alek Torgersen threw four touchdown passes, three to Justin Watson, and Penn rolled to a 42-7 victory over Yale in the first night game in Yale Bowl history.

Torgersen completed 16 of 23 passes for 229 yards and rushed for 66 yards. Watson had 10 receptions for 166 yards with touchdowns covering 5, 41 and 35 yards.

Torgersen moved into a tie for second with 47 career TD passes and Watson moved into fourth in career receptions (161) and touchdowns (17) for the Quakers (4-2, 3-0 Ivy Leauge).

Tre Solomon rushed for 120 yards, seven shy of the career high he set a week earlier, on 15 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run, for Penn, which won its fourth straight. Cameron Countryman had a 10-yard touchdown reception and Karekin Brooks had a 13-yard run for his first career touchdown.

Penn, which led 35-0 at halftime, finished with 508 yards and held the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-2) to 229.