Valdez and Polanco Provide the Runs, Doc Shuts Mets Down as Phils Improve to 5-1

Valdez and Polanco Provide the Runs, Doc Shuts Mets Down as Phils Improve to 5-1

When Everybody Hits. And Doc pitches. The Phillies win.

It's a tried and true recipie, and that's what happened Thursday
afternoon at Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies put on a fantastic
display of what this team is capable of doing to teams like the New York
Mets. Every single Phillies starter, including Roy Halladay, notched at
least one hit in the Phils 11-0 victory over the Mets, but it was
Wilson Valdez and Placido Polanco who did the most damage. Polly was 2-5
on the day with 4 RBIs while Valdez had his first career 4-hit game,
adding 3 RBIs and crossing the plate 3 times on his own.

"Polanco and Valdez were the ones who did the big hitting today,"
Charlie Manuel said. "Their hitting today definitely put us in a
position, not only to set the game up, but they also knocked in some big
runs."

You expect it from Polanco, but Valdez's hot start has been one of
the more unexpected story lines of the season, as is the manufacturing.

This
Phillies team isn't relying on the long ball, although Raul Ibanez did
ring the bell once on Thursday. The Fightins almost have that Doug
Collins' Sixers-vibe going, where any guy can step up and be the impact
player on any given night.

"I think we're doing a nice job of stringing together good at bats
and getting a lot of people on base, and then getting big hits," Raul
Ibanez said. "Not trying to create something that's not there. If they
throw you a base hit, you can get a base hit. Don't try to hit a homer
on a pitch that's a base hit. So trying not to do too much."

"We just kinda took what [Niese] was giving us," Charlie Manuel said
of the Phils success against the Mets' lefty. "We weren't trying to do a
whole lot against him. We were just trying to hit the ball hard it
looked like. It paid of for us."

Just play baseball, as Manuel loves to say.

But not every Phillie is satisfied with simply earning the 'W.' Roy
Halladay wants to improve his own performance every time he gets the
ball.

"I try and avoid evaluating myself based on results," Halladay said.
"If I can do it more on how I executed pitches, then I think I'm better
off. I can learn more. As soon as you start evaluating your start on
earned runs, or wins and losses, that makes it tough."

So does Doc feel as sharp and honed in as he's capable of being?

"There were times where I felt like I was battling myself a little
bit, especially from the windup," Roy said of his outing against the
Mets. "Those are things I still want to work on. I felt better. I'm
happy where I'm at, but I would like to pitch deeper. I would like to do
it with less pitches."

The idea that Doc isn't as efficient as he wants to be should be
scary for opposing teams. He only threw 21 first-pitch strikes on
Thursday against the Mets.

As for the Phillies offense that was supposedly a question mark coming into this season? How's 21 runs in the last two games?

"It was never a question mark in here," Ryan Howard, who is batting
.480 to start the season, said of the Phillies clubhouse. "In here, I
think everybody had the utmost confidence, staying within yourself,
doing what you do. There were a lot of outside people saying 'This
offense this, this offense that.' They can keep talking, but we're just
going out there and playing our game."

And winning five of six to start the season.

So where do the Phils go from here, besides Atlanta obviously.

"Even-keeled. Don't get too high, don't get too low. Just keep
playing. I just leave my guys alone," Charlie said. "Let 'em go out
there and see what they can do when they're playing good. Let's see what
we can do."

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.83 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there." (See story)

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Tonight's Lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

Tonight's Lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

After scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 7-5 win against the Braves on Thursday, Pete Mackanin decided not to tinker with the Phillies' lineup too much.

In fact, the only change will be at catcher. The struggling Cameron Rupp will get the start on Friday and bat sixth after Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate on Thursday. Rupp, who was one of the few bright spots for the offense in the first half, is just 5 for 31 since the All-Star break. On the season, Rupp is still batting .271 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

Aaron Altherr came off the DL with a bang, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer on Thursday. Mackanin has said Altherr will get a long look in right field and Thursday night was a glimpse of why. 

With Altherr's regular presence in the lineup, Cody Asche has been put on notice. After going on a tear from early June to early July, Asche is batting .094 (5 for 53) in his last 17 games. With Altherr and Odubel Herrera entrenched in right and center, Asche will have to get hot to stave off prospect Nick Williams, who seems to be finding his groove at Lehigh Valley.

Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

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Associated Press

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

Temple football starts its training camp next week, but the Owls have made another splash in the future scheduling department. This time, the opponents come from the ACC.

The program announced Friday it has agreed to future series with Boston College (2018 at BC and 2021 in Philadelphia) and Duke (2022 in Cameron, North Carolina and 2023 in Philadelphia). Temple also announced a game with Bucknell in Philadelphia in 2019 announced dates for previously confirmed future matchups with Maryland and Rutgers and 2017's season opener at Notre Dame.

The Boston College series is intriguing because it will be the renewal of an annual series from when the programs used to meet every year in Big East conference play. The Eagles hold a 28-7-2 all-time advantage over the Owls. Temple's last win against Boston College came in 1999 when the Owls earned a 24-14 victory. Of course, the matchup will be even juicier if former Temple head coach Steve Addazio is still leading Boston College in two years. But with the way the program floundered to a 3-9 record, earned just one win against an FCS program and went winless in ACC play last season and doesn't have a bright outlook this season, don't hold your breath that Addazio will be there.

The Owls have never met the Dukies on the gridiron.

Temple's non-conference slate this season includes home dates against Army (Sept. 2), Stony Brook (Sept. 10) and Charlotte (Sept. 24) and a visit to in-state rival Penn State (Sept. 17).

Friday's announcements come on the heels of an announcement earlier this month that confirmed Temple will play a three-game set with national powerhouse Oklahoma. That series is set to start in 2024.

Below is a list of dates for Temple's future games against non-conference opponents:
2017 – at Notre Dame - Sept. 2, vs. Villanova - Sept. 9, vs. UMass  - Sept. 16, at Army - Oct. 21
2018 – vs. Villanova -  Sept. 1, vs. Buffalo - Sept. 8, at Maryland - Sept. 15, at Boston College - Sept. 29
2019 – vs. Bucknell - Aug. 31, vs. Maryland - Sept. 14, at Buffalo - Sept. 21), vs. Army - Oct. 26
2020 – vs. Idaho - Sept. 12, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 19
2021 – at Rutgers - Sept. 4, vs. Boston College - Sept. 18
2022 – at Duke - Sept. 3, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 17
2023 – at Rutgers - Sept. 9, vs. Duke - Sept. 16
2024 - at Oklahoma - Aug. 31
2025 - vs. Oklahoma - Sept. 13
2028 - at Oklahoma - Sept. 2