The Phillies Really Need Cliff Lee to Pitch Deep Tonight in Boston

The Phillies Really Need Cliff Lee to Pitch Deep Tonight in Boston

Tyler Cloyd lasting only 2 1/3 innings in Monday night's 9-3 drubbing in Boston didn't happen in a vacuum. For only the second time all year, Charlie Manuel was forced to dip into his bullpen five times.

For the rest of the series, starting with Game 2 tonight, that figures to leave an already iffy bullpen frightfully shorthanded, putting something of a wrench in plans to win their third series in four and reach .500 for the first time since way back on Apr. 14.

Mike Stutes, Jeremy Horst, and Mike Adams each topped 30 pitches last night, likely leaving the Phillies with only one lefty, Antonio Bastardo, and only Chad Durbin for length. Bastardo's slugging percentage is actually 150 points higher vs. lefties, and Durbin's served five runs in his last four outings, none longer than three outs.

More relief staff woes: in his first appearance off the DL, Adams walked three for only the second time in his career and first since 2005.

The last time Manuel pitched five relievers, the Phillies went to extras in San Francisco on May 8, and none lasted more than an inning, so business was pretty much as usual for the series opener in Arizona.

Obviously not the case tonight.

And even though Boston starter Ryan Dempster's been, basically, a Dempster fire (zing!) of late, it's not like the Phillies did anything with the 10 baserunners Alfredo Aceves spotted them last night. Dempster (2-5, 4.63 ERA) hasn't made it to the sixth inning in three weeks, serving 15 runs and 20 hits in 12 2/3 innings over three starts since. He's walked 10 in his last two times out, and lasted only three frames yet surrendered four in his latest. Hasn’t been much better for him against the Phillies; he’s 1-4 with a 7.01 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Lee (5-2, 2.48 ERA) is rolling of late, working a 1.16 ERA in his last four starts after since being crushed in Cleveland, the latest of three-start stretch in which he went 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA. He's been scoreless in two of those four, going the distance in one in Miami last Wednesday, and the Phillies have won all four.

The longer Lee goes, the more the consequences of Cloyd's early exit are cushioned.

But twice in five starts at Fenway, Lee's last'ed fewer than six innings. He's 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA there lifetime. He's only gone eight or longer in back to back starts twice since August 2011, one of them the first week of 2013. Now's a good time for a third.

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.