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.

National champion Villanova to be honored at White House next week

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USA Today Images

National champion Villanova to be honored at White House next week

It's been nearly two months since Villanova won the National Championship in one of the most memorable games in NCAA Tournament history.

Since then, the Wildcats have been honored by the city (parade), the New York Stock Exchange (opening bell), the Phillies (first pitch), the Flyers and the Union. Earlier this week, head coach Jay Wright addressed the Eagles.

But that will all pale in comparison to where the Wildcats will be next Tuesday, when they become the latest championship team to visit the White House and meet President Barack Obama.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. and will be streamed on www.whitehouse.gov/live.

In his pool, President Obama had Villanova finally advancing past the second round — "I know that eventually they're going to break through. They've had some bad luck over the last couple of years," Obama told ESPN.com — but had the Wildcats falling to Kansas in the regional semifinal.

He then had Kansas beating North Carolina to win the title.

After surviving the first weekend for the first time since their Final Four run in 2009, Villanova ousted Kansas, 64-59, before shocking Buddy Hield and Oklahoma in the national semifinal, winning by 44. The Wildcats then won one of the most memorable championship games in NCAA Tournament history when Kris Jenkins hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Tar Heels, 77-74.

Union transfer contract of Michael Lahoud to Miami FC

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Union transfer contract of Michael Lahoud to Miami FC

The Union have cashed in on Michael Lahoud.

After terminating his loan to the New York Cosmos on Tuesday, the Union recalled Lahoud and officially sold the 29-year-old midfielder to Miami FC of the NASL for an undisclosed amount.

“Mike always served the club in a professional manner during his time here,” said Union sporting director Earnie Stewart, who loaned Lahoud to the Cosmos this offseason. “We thank him for his service and want to wish him the best of luck in Miami and in his future endeavors.”

Lahoud, whose prorated $115,637.50 guaranteed salary comes off the Union’s salary cap, was acquired in 2012 in a trade with Chivas USA for defender Danny Califf. He made 58 appearances with the Union before being loaned out.

Eagles' left guard job is Allen Barbre's, but backups are pushing

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Eagles' left guard job is Allen Barbre's, but backups are pushing

Allen Barbre is the Eagles’ starting left guard.

For now.

The 31-year-old offensive lineman started all 16 games at left guard in 2015, and as of Tuesday at OTAs, he was still a starter for Doug Pederson’s new-look offense.

But that could change.

There are several players pushing for the left guard spot. Among them are Stefen Wisniewski, Malcolm Bunche, Isaac Seumalo and Andrew Gardner.

“I definitely am trying to start somewhere,” said Wisniewski, a free-agent signing. “I think I would be a good starting left guard.”

Wisniewski, 27, signed a one-year prove-it deal in early April to join the Eagles (see story). After being taken in the second round of the 2011 draft, Wisniewski has started 77 of 80 possible games in the NFL. He clearly views himself as a starter in the NFL.

For the last two weeks, he’s been working with the second team at guard and center.

“Yeah, it’s weird. It’s definitely weird,” Wisniewski said. “I haven’t spent much time with the twos in five years. Probably a week or two. So it’s definitely different, but I’m just looking at it as a temporary thing, though.”

This offseason, the Eagles added veteran Brandon Brooks to play right guard, taking over for Matt Tobin, but Barbre is still slotted on the left side. In fact, to hammer the point home, the starting offensive linemen have their lockers in a row in the deep corner of the locker room, from left to right: Jason Peters, Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brooks, Lane Johnson.

So, as of late May, Barbre is still the starter.

“I really like where we're at. I like the depth at that position right now,” Pederson said last week. “But yeah, Allen Barbre is my guy and he's our starter.”

Wisniewski is the most accomplished of the backups pushing for that starting left guard spot, but he’s not alone.

Bunche, who was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2015 after going undrafted out of UCLA, has been working with the second team at left guard during practice. And the second-year player thinks he has a shot at the starting job too.

“Oh yes. But not just that one,” Bunche said. “Throughout the season, anything can happen. That’s one thing that [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland], he talks about it a lot, you never know when you’re number is going to be called. You just gotta stay in tune with what’s being called, the play-calling, the different techniques going into certain games. I feel I have an opportunity to take that spot if I wanted to. My mindset it to come in and get better each and every day.”

Another possible starting left guard isn’t with the team right now. Third-round pick Seumalo, from Oregon State, is back at school because of the NFL graduation rule and Oregon State’s quarters system. He would be a logical choice to compete for that starting job, but he’s missing valuable time at OTAs.

Meanwhile, Barbre, who had started just eight total games in his seven-year career before 2015, is trying to stave off his competitors. The veteran knows the team brought in a bunch of new offensive linemen this offseason (they have 17 on the roster). He just doesn’t care.

“Honestly, I wasn’t really worried about that,” Barbre said Tuesday. “Honestly, I thought I played fairly decent (in 2015), if you studied the film and you understood what went on. There was a lot of stuff that was tough on the O-line, so it made it kind of tough on us.”

The criticism of the offensive line last season was loud, especially criticism of the guard positions, but Barbre did his best to avoid it.  

“I don’t even read it,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t even care. You guys got your jobs and I have my job. We all have different things we have to do.”

Right now, Barbre’s job is to hold onto that starting spot, while Wisniewski and the rest try to steal it away.