Vance Refrigerates Cubs, as Offense Rolls to Eighth Consecutive Series Win

Vance Refrigerates Cubs, as Offense Rolls to Eighth Consecutive Series Win

The Philadelphia Phillies hammered the Chicago Cubs by a final score of 9 to 1 on an oppressively hot afternoon at Wrigley. Local temperatures hovered just shy of 100-degrees for the majority of the game, while Chicago heat indexes soared into the triple digits.

The Phillies, undaunted by the sweltering heat, gave Cubs' starting pitcher Ryan Dempster far more than he could handle during the early innings. A Ryan Howard single to left and a Shane Victorino groundout into a fielder's choice scored Michael Martinez and Chase Utley, respectively, to put the visiting Phils up 2-0 after the first.

Just one inning later, the flood gates would open.
With two down in the top of the second, pitcher Vance Worley cracked a double to reach base and extend what was assumed to be a closed inning. From there, the Phillies would tack on on three more runs thanks to a Jimmy Rollins double, Michael Martinez single, Michael Martinez stolen base and a Chase Utley double.
 
After surrendering five runs on 64 pitches through only two innings, Dempster would survive just one more frame. Thankfully, the Phils took that extra inning to tag Dempster for additional run thanks to a two-out double from Brian Schneider. By the time the book was closed on Dempster, he bore responsibility for 6 earned on 7 hits via a whopping 86 pitches in just 3 innings of work.

The Phillies would later add three more on the Cubs' bullpen thanks to Chase Utley's second double of the day and two Jimmy Rollins solo shots, each one batted from a different side of the plate.

To put it in perspective, only four times in Phillies history has a batter knocked two home runs in the same game batting from the right and left. With his performance today, Jimmy Rollins is responsible for two of those four occasions, a somewhat unsurprising fact. An infinitely more surprising fact, the last Phillie to complete such a feat besides Rollins—Tomás Orlando Pérez in 2001.

The obvious leaders of the offense this afternoon, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley finished the day a combined 5-8 with 5 RBIs and 5 runs scored.

Not to be lost in their impressive shuffle, however, was the play of the rapidly-improving Michael Martinez. Since July 1st, Martinez has failed to play in just three games while filling in for the injured Placido Polanco. Over that eleven game stretch, with today's game excluded from his monthly total, Martinez is batting a hefty .297 in July, consequently raising his season average an impressive .30 points. During today's game in Chicago, Martinez reached base twice, scored twice, stole a bag and knocked in a run.

Speaking of not getting lost in the shuffle, or getting buried at the bottom of the post, Vance Worley more than held up his end of the bargain. Despite the aforementioned temperatures, Worley gave up just one hit over his first six shutout innings. Though a rough start to the seventh would see Vance load the bases with no outs and ultimately give up a run, he would work his way out of the jam thanks to a nifty save by Jimmy Rollins and a timely Jimmy to Chase to Ryan double play. His final line in the sweltering Chicago heat: 8.0 IP, 4H, 1ER, 2BB, 7K, on 111 pitches.

From there, manager Charlie Manuel would opt to turn the ball over to Ryan Madson. In his third appearance since returning from the disabled list, Mad Dog needed just eight pitches to force three pop ups to end the ninth.

We hope you enjoyed our coverage from Chicago over the past few days. For today's game, E took advantage a well-deserved day off, drank a beer or two and watched the action from the stands. In honor of his decision, and Vance Worley's gem of an outing, we leave you with this clip from the Chicago-based Ferris Bueller's Day Off:

NFL Notes: Luck has successful right shoulder surgery, owner says

NFL Notes: Luck has successful right shoulder surgery, owner says

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has undergone surgery on the right shoulder that's bothered him the past two seasons.

Colts owner Jim Irsay announced Thursday on Twitter that Luck was recovering from successful outpatient surgery. Irsay says Luck will be ready for the 2017 season.

Luck was listed on the Colts injury report throughout this season and missed several practices, with coach Chuck Pagano saying the team had a plan for keeping Luck healthy while he dealt with a sore throwing shoulder.

Luck missed two games early in the 2015 season because of the shoulder injury. He threw for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns this past season after signing a six-year, $140 million contract in June.

Roethlisberger chasing Brady 
PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger intended for the moment to be private. The camera following him to midfield and the microphone tucked inside Tom Brady's shoulder pads ended up making that impossible.

Their brief exchange before Brady and the New England Patriots visited the Pittsburgh Steelers in October provided a snapshot into a rivalry that never was. They bro-hugged. They lamented the left knee injury that forced Roethlisberger out the lineup on that warm late fall afternoon.

And then Roethlisberger made an uncharacteristic request : a signed Brady jersey to hang on the wall in Roethlisberger's home office next to Hall of Famers Dan Marino, John Elway and Jim Kelly.

"I consider him one, if not the best of all-time," Roethlisberger said.

A group Roethlisberger does not include himself in.

Not even with as many championships as Brady's longtime friend and occasional foil Peyton Manning (two). Not even with a spot in the top 10 in just about every major statistical category out there on Roethlisberger's still growing resume. Not even with a bust in Canton one day alongside Brady and the rest of the guys whose jerseys adorn the walls of his home almost assured regardless of what happens in Sunday's AFC title game.

The reason is simple: rings. Brady has four, including two he earned while carving a path through the playoffs that included victories in Pittsburgh in 2001 and 2004. Roethlisberger has two, neither of which required Roethlisberger or the Steelers to take out Brady along the way.

It's why Roethlisberger just shakes his head when asked if he's part of the "gold standard" label that he so eagerly attaches to Brady.

"Not as (his) level," Roethlisberger said. "Obviously, with all the Super Bowls he has."

This weekend provides Roethlisberger his best - and maybe his last - chance to do to Brady what Brady has done to so many others over the last 16 years. Even if the last thing Roethlisberger wants to do is get pulled into the "star quarterback vs. star quarterback" narrative that fueled so many showdowns between Brady and Manning through the years.

"It's obviously bigger than the two of us," Roethlisberger said. "I know he is used to it, with the Peyton Manning and Tom thing. This is two football teams that have won championships. Us going against each other is more than just one man. We aren't playing tennis. We are going out there to play a football game with 11 guys at a time."

Salute to service award finalists
HOUSTON -- Falcons coach Dan Quinn and Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva are the finalists for the NFL's Salute to Service Award.

The winner of the honor, presented by USAA, the official military appreciation sponsor of the league, will be announced during NFL Honors the night before the Super Bowl. Both Quinn's and Villanueva's teams, of course, are still in the running to play in that game on Feb. 5.

Quinn and Villanueva were selected for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community.

Last spring, Quinn hosted a "Rookie Club Olympics" for which he invited 100 military members from Fort Benning, Georgia to the Falcons' training facility to participate. He created the event as a way for NFL players and the military community to unite and work together as a team.

"The military represents team on the highest level," says Quinn, who in his second year as Atlanta's coach and has it hosting the NFC championship game Sunday against Green Bay. "It's an honor to be up for this award that recognizes the standard of excellence set by our nation's military and encourages our community to give back and support service members and their families who serve our nation."

Quinn also stages a military day at training camp and hosts 20 military members at each Falcons home game throughout the season. He also provided an opportunity for families of fallen soldiers with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to attend the Falcons' Salute to Service game on Nov. 27. All 63 families attending were given a VIP visit at practice and were provided a one-night hotel stay in Atlanta courtesy of Quinn. Each player wore the initials of a fallen hero on his helmet during the game and during practice; the families were given a replica helmet of that player with a personalized note in honor of their hero.

Last offseason, Quinn led four Falcons players on a weeklong USO tour through the Pacific.

Villanueva grew up as a military child, living in the United States and Europe, where he played high school football. He then attended West Point, where he was a tight end, and was commissioned in the Army in 2010.

Promoted to captain in 2014, Villanueva was deployed three times. He received the Bronze Star Medal and the Bronze Star Medal for Valor for heroism in combat.

For the first time, NBC Sports regional networks add live, local Major League Baseball streaming

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AP

For the first time, NBC Sports regional networks add live, local Major League Baseball streaming

STAMFORD, Conn. – January 19, 2017 – NBC Sports Regional Networks today announced an agreement with MLBAM to stream local market MLB games, as well as pre- and postgame shows, beginning with the 2017 regular season. This new streaming offering is available at no additional cost to authenticated pay TV subscribers of NBC Sports Group’s CSN regional sports networks (RSNs). This local initiative advances NBCUniversal’s implementation of “TV Everywhere,” which strives to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home, and on multiple platforms.

CSN’s local streaming allows authenticated viewers in their respective markets to live stream games and related programming that is carried by their pay TV provider of the Chicago Cubs (CSN Chicago), Chicago White Sox (CSN Chicago), Philadelphia Phillies (CSN Philadelphia), Oakland Athletics (CSN California) and San Francisco Giants (CSN Bay Area). Game broadcast schedules will be announced at a later date.

“This is a home run for our local sports fans,” said David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks, and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy. “We are constantly looking for ways to better serve our fans and provide comprehensive coverage of their favorite teams. With the addition of MLB in-market streaming rights, they don’t have to miss a pitch.”

The addition of MLB authenticated in-market streaming completes the local streaming portfolio for the NBC Sports Regional Networks, which also includes local NBA and NHL live streaming. The RSNs first introduced NBA streaming in 2014 and last fall announced the addition of NHL in-market streaming, beginning with the 2016-17 season. 

The NBC Sports Regional Networks now have partnerships for in-market streaming of the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, San Jose Sharks, San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s (CSN Bay Area/CSN California); Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox (CSN Chicago); Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals (CSN Mid-Atlantic); Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Phillies (CSN Philadelphia); and Boston Celtics (CSN New England).

Authenticated CSN subscribers can access live MLB, NBA and NHL games, as well as other sports programming, anywhere in the United States.  During the 2017 MLB season, all in-market MLB games will be streamed on the respective local CSN regional network site on PCs as well as on the NBC Sports app—NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets and connected TVs. The NBC Sports app is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.