Six Things We Love About Last Night's Phillies Win

Six Things We Love About Last Night's Phillies Win

With
two starting, All-Star outfielders shipped off in deadline-day deals in
exchange for generally unknown prospects, salary relief, a platoon
corner OF, and a relief pitcher, the Phillies more or less officially
conceded their chances for glory in the 2012 season. So naturally, they
kicked dirt and grumbled to themselves the way the rest of us would have
if our bosses got rid of our friends at work, right? 

Wrong! In what we can only assume is a 100% bona fide sign
that the Phillies will totally be back to form in 2013, the remaining
squadron opened their a series against the first place team with a
decisive 8-0 victory over the Washington Nationals. Here's what we loved
about it.  

Cliff Lee Got a Win!
On the final day of
July, a former Cy Young winner making more than $20 million this season got his second win of the season. Yes it's one of the better
examples of the hollowness of W's and L's, but we didn't need any more
of those. We needed examples of Cliff Lee being Cliff Lee. Zero runs
allowed, just five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in seven
innings. Oh, and...

Stephen Strasburg Got Lit Up
The Nats' ace
made it through just four innings, allowing eight hits and six earned
runs, including long balls to Kevin Frandsen(!) and Jimmy Rollins. 
Related: Everybody Hits! Wahoo! 
Yes, in the wake of officially becoming sellers after fans got a wtf chuckle at the night's announced lineup, Phillies pitchers notched a combined shutout, and every starter had at least one hit, as did Lee's pinch hitter (see below).

The Top of the Fourth...Here's the
sequence of events that ended Strasburg's night. Having already allowed
Frandsen's second-inning stroke to center, which scored The Daily Beast,
Carlos Ruiz, who had doubled, Juan Pierre* scored in the third after
stealing two bases and skipping home after a throwing error by catcher
Jesus Flores sailed into left, more bad fortune awaited Strasburg in the
fourth. Laynce Nix flew out, JMJr doubled, and Frandsen grounded out to
second for the Phils' second out of the frame. With Cliff Lee in the
box, a simple lineup turnover wouldn't have been so bad. But Lee likes
to swing the bat, and he slapped a single to right, scoring Mayberry.
Lee then proceeded to swipe second during Jimmy Rollins' at bat. Who
knows whether that further unnerved Strasburg, but Jimmy got a hold of
an offering, slugging it to the wall in right, where Bryce Harper … I
can't accurately describe what Harper did. It involved misplaying the
ball, tumbling over with his ass in the air, and perhaps hamming it up
some while the ball rolled back toward the infield and Jimmy sprinted
the bases. That's a clown play bro.

[more on J-Roll's inside-the-parker and photos of Harper falling here]

*I thought for sure Pierre would be dealt yesterday.
Inexpensive, having a nice season with a .300+ average, speed off the
bench or in the lineup for a contender? Guess not.  
Dom Brown Got a Hit!
Before the ink was dry on the Victorino
trade papers, Domonic Brown was recalled from Lehigh Valley. He wasn't
in the starting lineup, but he appeared as a pinch hitter for Lee in the
top of the eighth. I wouldn't say Dom got all of it, but ya gotta love
that he at least got a hit in that AB. We'll be seeing a lot more of Dom
in the coming months, and not just as an injury fill-in injected into
the pressure cooker of a contending season. There will still be a ton of
pressure on him to prove he can play at the big league level though,
with Ruben getting to work on rebuilding the outfield for 2013.  

It Was Fun.In all likelihood, we don't
have postseason baseball to look forward to. But hey, we're a city that
knows how to enjoy baseball for what it is on a nightly basis, amirite? Not every
game needs to portend postseason success or failure. After yesterday's
sale, it's time to just sit back and enjoy the game. Last night was
perfect for that.

US Presswire photos

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Shayne Gostisbehere’s fist pump was so vicious and mighty, the celebration was probably felt back in Philadelphia.

This was an exultation the entire Flyers felt, too.

When it started to look like the bye week wasn’t the break they needed, the Flyers reached down deep and got one Sunday night at the Barclays Center in the form of a 3-2 overtime victory over the Islanders (see Instant Replay).

“It allows you to take a breath,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s one thing for sure.”

A sigh of relief for a team beaten and bruised — losers of three straight by a combined score of 15-4, not to mention 3-9-3 in its past 15 games. The Flyers had lost the day prior on home ice to the Devils, 4-1, with a performance not exactly inspiring confidence following five days off.

On Sunday, they trailed 2-0 in the second period.

“We've got to get better at dealing with adversity when something goes wrong,” general manager Ron Hextall said bluntly before the game. “We need to get back on the horse and get back going. Big deal, a team scored a goal. We need to react better to it.”

Finally, the Flyers reacted the way their GM had been hoping.

They flipped the deficit into a victory when Gostisbehere skated behind the net and put the puck on Claude Giroux’s stick for the game-winner with 1:40 left in the extra session. Gostisbehere whipped his arm through the air and embraced Giroux, along with Jakub Voracek, who started the play by stripping Islanders captain John Tavares.

“On a lot of different levels, it’s an important win,” Hakstol said. “It’s huge. And more importantly for us, a great effort. Thought we deserved the two points. Sometimes maybe that’s what it takes to get over the hump — a tremendous effort for 60-plus minutes. I thought we got that out of everyone tonight.”

For Giroux, it was his first goal since Dec. 21.

For Steve Mason, his first win since Dec. 21.

And for the Flyers, their first road victory since Dec. 14, as they went 0-6-3 in the previous nine games away from home.

Yeah, “it was needed,” as Wayne Simmonds said of the win.

“We’ve been fighting it lately and I thought that was a good game from start to finish,” he said. “I thought everyone played well. I think we made bounces go our way tonight instead of hoping and waiting.”

Simmonds scored what might have been the biggest goal of the game. The Flyers, down 1-0 in the second period, came up empty for 33 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play and the proceeding 5-on-4 advantage. The Islanders then padded the lead to 2-0 moments later, putting the Flyers’ backs against the wall.

But Simmonds kept his team from uncoiling with a goal at 14:10 of the period, giving the Flyers life at second intermission. If not for that score, who knows how the Flyers come out in the third period, trailing by multiple goals yet again.

"I think we were plying well,” Giroux said. “We had a lot of chances and [the puck] wasn't going in. Everybody on the bench was frustrated. When Wayne got that first goal, I think [there was] a little relief on the bench. I haven't seen a team celebrate so much just for a first goal. It was kind of a relief and we had a little boost out of that.”

Ivan Provorov scored the equalizer 1:47 into the final period when he maintained possession from the blue line to the circle, adeptly skating around two Islanders to put the puck on net. Provorov’s pass to Travis Konecny hit off the skate of New York’s Adam Pelech and into the net.

“I came off the bench and I saw [Brayden Schenn] was going into the zone, so I took a few hard strides, got the puck from him and I saw it was kind of an odd-man situation,” Provorov said. “I held on to the puck a little bit, saw T.K. going backdoor, passed it there and it went off their D skate.”

Just as important as the timely goals was the Flyers’ discipline. Against the Devils, the Flyers compiled 19 penalty minutes, forcing them on seven penalty kills. This time, the Flyers sharpened up, not allowing the Islanders a power play until midway through the third period. In total, they had just four penalty minutes and killed off both power plays faced.

That gave them a chance.

“We just kept saying it the whole time, ‘Keep going, keep going, guys,’” Simmonds said. “We just need one [goal] and from one comes two, and Mase held the fort.”

Mason made 17 of his 36 saves in the third period and overtime combined.

Now, the Flyers at least go into another important back-to-back — starting Wednesday at the Rangers before welcoming the Maple Leafs Thursday — with some confidence instead of a lost weekend.

“I thought the focus was purely on going out and playing well,” Hakstol said. “And you know, that’s harder to do than you might know — when you start to feel some of the pressure without a win in a little bit. I really liked that side of it. Even in that situation, all the guys played well. Hopefully that puts our entire team in the right direction.’’

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored two goals, Sidney Crosby added his league-leading 28th and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth straight game, 5-1 over the Boston Bruins 5-1 on Sunday.

Pittsburgh led 2-1 through two periods before breaking out in the third with three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 57 seconds.

Sheary scored his 17th and has nine goals in nine games. Bryan Rust added his 12th and Patric Hornqvist his 11th for the Penguins, who won a season-high seventh straight at home. Pittsburgh the NHL's best home team, is 13-0-1 in its last 14 home games.

Evgeni Malkin had two assists for a season-best seven-game point streak. Crosby added two assists for a three-point game. Matt Murray made 44 saves to win his fourth straight game.

David Krejci scored his 11th for the Bruins, who have lost four straight and five of their last six (see full recap).

Rangers shut out Red Wings in 1-0 OT win
DETROIT -- J.T. Miller scored at 1:56 of overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season and 61st of his career. The Rangers managed only 19 shots in a game that featured few memorable chances by either team.

The winner came when Mats Zuccarello and Miller swooped in alone on Detroit goalie Jared Coreau. Zuccarello made a simple pass to Miller, who lifted the puck over Coreau for his 16th goal of the season.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall played for the first time since Jan. 4, returning from a lower-body injury. The Red Wings put forward Drew Miller on waivers (see full recap).

Atikinson lifts Jackets over Senators in wild OT win
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game at 1:09 of overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets a 7-6 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

Atkinson had a breakaway after a shot by Senators captain Erik Karlsson missed the Columbus net and went around the boards out to Atkinson, who was at center-ice.

The Blue Jackets trailed 5-3 after two periods before Lukas Sedlak and Matt Calvert scored 31 seconds apart to tie it less than 2 1/2 minutes into the third. Atklnson then gave Columbus a 6-5 lead with 9:10 remaining, before Kyle Turries tied it for Ottawa on the power play less than 2 minutes later.

Nick Foligno, Scott Harrington and Zach Werenski also scored for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo finished with 28 saves.

Zach Smith and Mike Hoffman each had two goals and Mark Stone also scored for the Senators. Mike Condon had 22 saves (see full recap).