Seven Things We Love About Last Night's Phillies Win

Seven Things We Love About Last Night's Phillies Win

We're probably not going to do these lists after every game, but we're still feeling the "bright side" kick after the Phillies unofficially declared contention a dead issue with a lot of games still on the schedule. They're making it easy to stay positive since then, winning their second straight in Washington, 3-2, last night. Here's a quick look at another decent night to be a Phillies fan. 
Dom Brown's HoseNo that's not a new fan group for Domonic Brown, though we're not saying it shouldn't be. With two outs in the bottom of the second and Edwin Jackson on second for the Nats, Bryce Harper sent a sharp single out to left, where Brown scooped it up and fired it to home plate. Erik Kratz had a perfect blocking position, and Jackson was dead in the water, ending the inning and preventing the Nats from expanding their lead. 
J-Roll Homered Again. And Again.Having staved off the Nat Attack in the second inning, it was the Phillies' turn in the third. Jimmy Rollins had homered in the series opener (you remember the inside-the-parker), and nearly done so again leading off on Wednesday. He must have liked what Edwin Jackson was serving, because he stroked one to right, kickstarting the Phillies offense for the night. Leading off in the top of the fifth, Jimmy blasted another one, his third in the first two games of the series and 12th of the season. 
The Shierholter Opens TradingNate Schierholtz made his presence known in his first game as a Phillie, homering and making a sliding catch in right. Batting second in the lineup, his longball came right after Jimmy's second of the game, putting the Phillies ahead with the 3-2 lead they'd carry for the rest of the night. Schierholtz's defense helped ensure that W, when he charged and made a sliding catch on a Bryce Harper flare with no outs in the bottom of the eighth. Not to throw an unnecessary handful of dirt on the grave of Hunter Pence's Phillies career, but I'm pretty sure every Phils fan watching the game last night muttered, "Pence wouldn't have gotten to that" or "Pence would have kicked that halfway down the first base line," or "Pence would have slid three feet past the ball as it bounced toward the corner and Bryce Harper had his revenge for J-Roll's inside the park roundtripper the night before." You get the point, and it isn't that Nate Schierholtz is a better overall option in right. There may be some advantages though. 
Holder By Committee!Josh Lindblom, the reliever who came over in the deal that sent Shane Victorino to LA, faced the next batter after Harper's flyout. He allowed a single to Ryan Zimmerman, but got Mike Morse to strike out before himself being relieved as Charlie used three pitchers in the frame to set up Jonathan Papelbon. Jeremy Horst came in to face LaRoche, but Zimmerman ran on him, and Kratz gunned him down at second to close it out. Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratzkratzkratz Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratzkratz EVERYBODY! 
Papelbon closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth that included a swinging strikeout to end the game. 
Vance Party!Vance Worley ducked some first inning bad luck and escaped with a win, going seven innings while allowing six hits and a walk with no strikeouts. Both runs charged to him were unearned due to … 
Another Error at Third!Wait why is this a good thing? OK it's not, at all. Kevin Frandsen's boot in the first inning with two men on loaded the bases for Adam LaRoche, who then singled in a run. Danny Espinosa then grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Chad Tracy, giving the Nationals an early 2-0 lead. The only remotely positive thing about the sequence is that, no longer in a pennant chase, the Phillies having yet another costly error at the hot corner this season serves as a reminder they'll be targeting more talent there before 2013, both at the plate and the bag. Right, Rube? 
Shane and Hunter Went 0-8We're obviously not going to hope for the worst for these two guys who were fan favorites and genuinely good people. Shane gave me some of my favorite sports memories, and I'll always be grateful. Pence was a lot of fun too, and things just didn't work out for this talented, funky player during his time with the Phils. But it's not one of those situations where we hope they go on to win elsewhere (Shane's already got one, Pence wasn't here long enough, eff both those teams, #godbacks, etc.). We'll take comfort just this once in the fact that their debuts for the stupid Dodgers and the stupid Giants, respectively, went entirely fruitless. Neither freshly former Phillie got a hit, and both of their teams lost (unfortunately, the SF loss came with a Mets win). Mmyep, their GMs and fans have to deal with the reality that Lindblom totally got that one guy out and Schierholtz's homer proved to be the winner for the Phillies, virtually GUARANTEEING that Ruben Amaro Jr got the better of the deals. No need to even keep score after this point. Haw man. That's gotta burn. 
The Phils are a game out of not-last. The Nats have a 2.5-game lead in the division. Cole's on the hill. Anyone else looking forward to some baseball tonight?

Photos by Kevin Jairaj-US Presswire

Sixers-Bucks 5 things: Joel Embiid back to face the 'Greek Freak'

Sixers-Bucks 5 things: Joel Embiid back to face the 'Greek Freak'

Sixers at Bucks
3:30 p.m. - CSN/CSNPhilly.com/streaming live on the NBCSports App

The Sixers (12-26) look to get back in the win column when they face the Milwaukee Bucks (20-19) at the Bradley Center in a Martin Luther King Day matinee.

Let's take a closer look at Monday afternoon's matchup:

1. Back on the Embiid express
The Sixers have started to show flashes of coming together and finally turning the corner on their massive rebuild. However, they are nowhere near the point that they can remove the biggest piece of the puzzle and still expect to win games.

The Sixers found that out again on Saturday night, as they were pummeled during the second half of a 109-93 loss to the Washington Wizards with Joel Embiid sidelined for rest.

The team didn't want to use the rookie phenom's absence as an excuse, but it was clear his presence was missed.

“We didn’t have that extra oomph,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said after the loss. “Obviously, the omission of Joel Embiid clearly is impactful, but that’s the challenge. We just didn’t have it tonight.”

Embiid and his 19.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game will be back in the lineup against the Bucks.

2. Freak of nature
The Sixers won't be the only squad with a star in the making on the court Monday afternoon.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown plenty of potential since he was selected by the Bucks 15th overall in the 2013 draft (Anthony Bennett, who was recently released by the Brooklyn Nets, was taken No. 1 overall that year, for those of you keeping track at home). But the man known as "The Greek Freak" has taken his game to new heights this season.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 23.4 points on 53.5 percent shooting in addition to 8.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals per game this season - all career highs. He's also coming off a 33-point, eight-rebound and six-assist performance in the Bucks' 111-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

With Antetokounmpo playing point guard full time now and the Bucks' starting five boasting players all above 6-foot-7, it's hard to determine how the Sixers will match up on defense. Whatever the plan is to slow down "The Greek Freak," it will have to be a total team effort.

3. Protect the paint
All of that size and athleticism for the Bucks is a big reason they attack the rim so much. Milwaukee is tied with Oklahoma City for the league lead in points in the paint with 50.6 per game.

The Sixers were dominated on the low block for 54 points by the Wizards on Saturday with Embiid out. For the season, they rank 14th in the league in points in the paint allowed at 42.3 a night.

One thing that might help the Sixers is their shot blocking. They swat 5.6 shots a game (sixth in the NBA), which could deter some of those romps to the rim by the Bucks.

4. Injuries
T.J. McConnell (right wrist), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Khris Middleton (hamstring) is out for the Bucks.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost 12 of their last 14 games to the Bucks.

• Ersan Ilyasova spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the Bucks (see story on his return to Milwaukee). This will mark the fourth time he has faced his former team.

• Jabari Parker, selected No. 2 overall in the 2014 NBA draft right before Embiid, has emerged this season with 20.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Sixers' T.J. McConnell (sprained right wrist) out Monday vs. Bucks

Sixers' T.J. McConnell (sprained right wrist) out Monday vs. Bucks

The Sixers will get Joel Embiid back in the lineup when they meet the Bucks on Monday afternoon in Milwaukee, but they'll be without their starting point guard.

T.J. McConnell will miss Monday's game with a sprained right wrist suffered in Saturday night's loss to the Wizards in D.C., the Sixers announced Monday morning.

McConnell reportedly did not travel with the team to Milwaukee and is back home in Philadelphia.

The 24-year-old McConnell has been a presence this season for a Sixers team that desperately needed something from the point guard spot. In 38 games this season, McConnell has averaged 4.8 points, 5.8 points and 4.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists a night in an average of 22.3 minutes a game.

The highlight of McConnell's season, of course, came last week when he nailed the game-winning shot at the buzzer to give the Sixers a 98-97 victory over the Knicks.

Sergio Rodriguez is expected to start in McConnell's place Monday against the Bucks.