This Is Last Place: Lee Throws 10 Shutout Innings, Phils Lose 1-0

This Is Last Place: Lee Throws 10 Shutout Innings, Phils Lose 1-0

On one hand, Cliff Lee was magnificent on Wednesday night. Not only did he become the first pitcher to last 10 innings into a game since Aaron Harang in 2007, and the first Phillie to do so since Terry Mulholland in 1993; Lee was also the first pitcher to go 10 with a shutout since Mark Mulder in '05, the first Phillie since Steve Carlton in '81.

Lee allowed seven hits, walked none, and struck out seven on an efficient 102 pitches. Had he not been due up in the top of the 11th, he almost certainly could have gone another round or two at least.

On the other hand, Matt Cain was equally dominant for the San Francisco Giants. The newly-minted hundred millionaire held the Phillies to zero runs and two hits over a full nine. Really, the only difference between the two starters was Cain's bullpen kept the opposing team off the scoreboard, and Lee's did not -- or to put that another way, the Giants found a way to generate a run, whereas the Phils could not.

However you choose to look at it, the end result is a 1-0 loss in 11 innings, putting Philadelphia in dead last in the NL East for the first time in almost five years.

Antonio Bastardo was handed the loss, though he lacked help defensively. With one out and a runner on first, Angel Pagan slapped a sharp ground ball toward third that was too hot to handle for Ty Wigginton, who bobbled the ball and had no play. Two pitches later, Melky Cabrera lined a single over the glove of Freddy Galvis to right, scoring Brandon Belt as Hunter Pence's desperation throw arrived late.

Of course, Wigginton was still on the field due to the plate struggles of Placido Polanco, who has one extra base hit and one RBI to go along with his .220 on-base percentage. Wigginton was 1-for-4 on Wednesday.

You may have trouble pinning that problem on game management, but Charlie Manuel probably didn't help his own cause either.

After Carlos Ruiz led off the top of the 11th with a double, and Galvis sacrificed him to third, Manuel went to his big lefty for the pinch hit. Giants manager Bruce Bochy matched Jim Thome with veteran lefthander Javier Lopez, who K'd the owner of 604 home runs with a bunch off-speed slop.

Manuel also stuck with John Mayberry after pinch hitting for Juan Pierre on the next at bat when Bochy matched with Clay Hensley, a right-on-right battle. Mayberry has a .212 average with one extra base hit, two RBIs, and nine strikeouts. He ended the threat with a groundout.

And this is a last place team.

After dropping two of three in San Francisco, the Phillies have lost three of four series this season, and for the first time since April 20, 2007, this team finds itself in the NL East basement all by their lonesome. A young, hungry club wound up overtaking the New York Mets for the division crown last time, just one example why it's much too early to panic already.

But on the OTHER other hand, one theory is this franchise might be trending in the opposite direction. Big rebound series with the San Diego Padres begins for the Phillies on Thursday.

Joel Embiid not named All-Star starter, can still make it as reserve

Joel Embiid not named All-Star starter, can still make it as reserve

Joel Embiid will have to hope NBA coaches trust the process.

Embiid on Thursday was not named a starter in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler locked in the three Eastern Conference frontcourt spots. Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan rounded out the backcourt.

James (25.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.1 assists) and Antetokounmpo (23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists) were locks as starters. That left Butler, Kevin Love and Embiid as the next in contention. Butler is a two-time All-Star averaging 24.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 36.8 minutes for the 21-22 Bulls. Love is posting 20.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 31.6 minutes per game on the Eastern Conference-leading, 29-11 Cavaliers.

The Western Conference starting spots went to Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis. 

The voting was made up of fan votes (50 percent), player votes (25 percent) and media votes (25 percent). Embiid has a chance to be voted in by the NBA coaches, whose reserve selections will be announced on Jan. 26. 

Embiid would have been named a starter had the results been based on fan voting (50 percent). He finished third ahead of Love and Butler.

Embiid was in the running for a starting role during a breakout rookie season. He is averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game. Even though his playing time is capped at 28 minutes, he ranks seventh among all players in scoring per 48 minutes. He is eighth overall in free throw attempts per game (7.9) and 10th in those made (6.2).

Embiid had obstacles, though, when it came to the voting: rookie status, 28-minute restriction, limited games played (29) because of his allocated workload, and the Sixers’ record.

Even though the All-Star Game highlights individual achievements, team record is often taken into consideration. The Sixers have won seven of their last nine games (see story), but still stand well below .500 at 14-26.

When it came to the players’ vote, it is hard for a rookie who hasn’t even competed against every team in the league to make a strong enough impression for another player to influence their perception of the top talent. Embiid finished outside of the top five in the players' vote, behind James, Antetokounmpo, Butler, Paul George and Kristaps Porzingis. Meanwhile, the Sixers' big man finished fifth in the media vote.

Embiid and the Sixers were very active in pushing for the fan votes. Embiid received the social media support of celebrities including Triple H, Kevin Hart and MLB MVP Mike Trout, among others. The Sixers promoted Embiid through a Shirley Temple campaign based on his favorite drink.

Embiid picked up major steam in the last week of voting. He had trailed Love by 16,028 fan votes in the second returns on Jan. 12.

He took to Twitter to express his gratitude.

Chip Kelly still jobless after swinging and missing with Jaguars

Chip Kelly still jobless after swinging and missing with Jaguars

Chip Kelly's job search continues.

The beloved (sarcasm) former Eagles head coach reportedly interviewed for the Jaguars' offensive coordinator opening. However, on Wednesday night, Jacksonville announced it was retaining Nathaniel Hackett as its OC.

“We are excited to announce Nathaniel Hackett as our offensive coordinator and he will immediately be tasked with installing and implementing our offense this offseason,” Jaguars new head coach Doug Marrone said in a statement from the team. “I have had the pleasure of working with Nathaniel for seven consecutive seasons and know firsthand how knowledgeable and passionate he is about winning.”

So, Kelly swung and miss twice on the Jaguars, as he reportedly interviewed for Jacksonville's head coaching job, as well.

"I’m not going to close the door on any opportunity, but I have to be very smart in what I do next,” Kelly said, via CSNBayArea.com, two days after his firing as 49ers head coach. “I don’t have to take anything, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. I need to make sure that I’m in the right situation.

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll do my due diligence. I’m not going to coach just to coach.”

Kelly's decline is staggering, even if you saw it coming.

Look at this NFL coaching history ...

With Eagles in 2013: 10-6, wild-card playoff berth
With Eagles in 2014: 10-6, missed playoffs
With Eagles in 2015: 6-9, fired before final regular-season game
With 49ers in 2016: 2-14, fired after regular season

Who knows what's next for the Chipper?