Wigginton's 6 RBI Power Another Hamels Win

Wigginton's 6 RBI Power Another Hamels Win

The only downside to Memorial Day Weekend is that moment you realize it's almost over and you start taking inventory on whether did enough or relaxed enough, no matter how much of either you crammed in. First you're ecstatic that the three-day summer kickoff is coming, then it's in full swing, and before you know it, you're telling people it feels like Sunday and isn't it weird Game Of Thrones isn't on while fighting off the thought that you'll be at work tomorrow before giving yourself that hey at least it's a four-day work week pep talk. Well, whether your long awesome weekend met its end on a beach, in traffic hell, on a couch, or in a backyard over a fire, at least the Phillies softened the landing with an 8-4 win to start a three-game set with the Mets. Right?
Cole Hamels notched his Major League-leading eighth win of the season with a fine eight-inning effort, and Ty Wigginton put in a career afternoon, knocking in six runs. Hamels was charged with each of the Mets' four runs despite allowing only seven hits and one walk. Twice the Phillies had two-run leads only to have the Mets catch up, each time on a home run. Neither the heat nor the pair of longballs got to Hamels though, and Wigginton made sure he had enough run support. 
More on that below, if you missed or want to relive it. 
The Phils grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning after Mets starter Jonathon Niese got Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco out, then walked Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, who was batting cleanup. Wigginton then got the team's first hit of the day, doubling to right. Great to see the offense wait out a pitcher who had started to struggle, letting him throw balls until he served up a meatball. 
Hamels was punished for walking Lucas Duda in the fifth when Vinny Rottino followed it up with a homer to tie the game at 2. Cole answered with back-to-back strikeouts before getting Niese to ground out and end the inning. The offense immediately got the lead back for him, with Wigginton taking one of his two BBs on the day before John Mayberry Jr BLASTED one to left. The Phils were up 4-2 despite it being only their second hit of the afternoon. 
In the bottom of the sixth, Scott Hairston homered in Kirk Nieuwenhuis to knot the game again. And, in the next frame, the Phils once again regained the lead with Wigginton at the plate. With Bobby Parnell now on the mound, JRoll started the inning with a single for the Phils' third hit. Polly grounded out but moved him over (more on that below), Pence walked, and Shane sac'd Jimmy over to third. Parnell was throwing straight heat, but Wigginton waited for a fat pitch and roped it to center, plating Rollins. 
Cole had a 1-2-3 seventh, then got the Phils' only hit in the eighth (nice to see Jon Rauch keep all his clothes on this time around) before rewarding Charlie Manuel for letting him come back out and face the top of the Mets' order. He allowed a double to pinch-hitter Andres Torres, who got to third on a groundout by Nieuwenhaus. Daniel Murphy grounded out to Galvis, who continues to be outstanding at second base, and David Wright brought his league-leading batting average to the plate. Cole battled him into ground out to third, a tough play handled well by Polanco to end the inning without letting the Mets tie again. 
Then it was Manny Acosta's turn be in Ty Wigginton's highlight reel. Acosta allowed a pair of singles before striking out Victorino, and Wigginton put out to left center, RUINING Jonathan Papelbon's save opportunity. 
Papelbon was already warmed up though, and he had to wait through a pitching change, so Charlie sent him out anyway. 5-8 got the Mets to go down 1-2-3, and it was all barbecue sauce for the visitors. 
NotesAfter the aptly named Justin Turner turned his ankle when caught in a third inning rundown [video here], David Wright had to move over to shortstop in the fourth inning. Turner was himself a fill-in at SS, with Ronny Cedeno already hurt. Wright's inexperience at the position did come into play later, when Polanco grounded to the pitcher, who turned and threw it to Wright as he ran to cover second. It would have been a very close play, but Wright was well in front the bag and never tagged it before throwing to get Polly out at first. Can't see the base, can ya Russ? (Debby Wong, US Presswire)
Wigginton would knock Rollins in after he'd advanced to third, giving the Phils a 5-4 lead. Had it not been for Wigginton's homer in the ninth, that run might have stood up as the winner. Wright also had a throwing error, but that was in the first inning, before he made the move to short. 
He was also 0-4 on the day, plummeting his average to .373. Everyone point and laugh at David Wright!
Chooch, who is third only to Wright and Melky Cabrera in NL batting average, had to sit the afternoon out, scratched with a tight right hammy. You just rest up, Most Valuable Panamanian. 
Hairston has Cole's number. Check out these career stats against him
Reuben Frank pointed out that Cole hadn't allowed more than three earned runs since September of 2011, dating back 14 starts, and Brian Schneider also caught him that day. Not going to hang anything on Schneider though, especially the day after he caught Kyle Kendrick's shutout. 
With the Braves losing their eighth in a row, the Phillies are no longer in sole possession of last place in the East. Both clubs are four games back. 
It was a great day for watching baseball, as well as remembering why many of us had the day off today. Spending time with friends and family, relaxing, or yes, even working, are all great ways to respect the ultimate sacrifice of so many US servicemen and women. Thank you to our fallen soldiers, the families they've left behind, and to those currently serving. 

Darren Sproles signs 1-year extension with Eagles

Darren Sproles signs 1-year extension with Eagles

The Eagles signed veteran running back and punt returner Darren Sproles to a one-year contract extension Friday morning.

Terms of the deal were not immediately available, but Sproles is due to earn $3.5 million in base salary in 2016. Sproles, a Pro Bowler in each of his two seasons with the Eagles, is now signed through 2017. He was due to become a free agent after this season.

Sproles skipped the Eagles’ voluntary organized offseason workouts and the given reason was to spend more time with his family in San Diego. But Sproles’ contract status certainly could have played a role in his reason to stay away.

Sproles, 33, is tied for seventh in NFL history with Dave Meggett with seven career punt returns for touchdowns.

After five years with the Chargers and three with the Saints, he has enjoyed a career resurgence with the Eagles, making his first two Pro Bowl teams and becoming only the second player in NFL history with four or more punt return TDs after his 30th birthday. The other is Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.

In his career, Sproles has 2,867 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns with a 5.0 average rushing and 473 receptions for 4,156 yards and 28 more touchdowns.

With 133 more rushing yards and 27 more receptions, Sproles will become only the 12th player in NFL history with 3,000 rushing yards and 500 receptions.

Sproles' 5.0 career rushing average is 14th-highest in NFL history among non-quarterbacks with at least 500 rushing attempts.

In two seasons with the Eagles, he has 646 rushing yards and 95 receptions, although his 3.8 rushing average last year was well below his career average.

He has two punt return TDs in each of his seasons with the Eagles and is one of only seven NFL players in history with consecutive seasons with multiple punt return touchdowns.

Sproles entered the league as the Chargers’ fourth-round draft pick in 2005. The Eagles acquired him – or stole him – from the Saints in March 2014 in exchange for a fifth-round pick.

That pick turned out to be Ronald Powell, a linebacker who played in just 14 career games and is not currently in the league.

Aaron Altherr provides major spark in season debut to lead Phillies past Braves

Aaron Altherr provides major spark in season debut to lead Phillies past Braves

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies are still looking for the real Aaron Nola, but they may have found a useful bat Thursday night.

Aaron Altherr had the kind of season debut he’d dreamed about for the four months he was on the disabled list as he helped the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves, 7-5, at Turner Field (see Instant Replay).

Altherr was one of three Phillies to hit home runs on a night when the offense awakened after generating just one run the previous two days in Miami. Altherr, who came off the disabled list earlier in the day after missing four months with a wrist injury that required surgery (see story), drove a two-run homer to left in the fifth inning. Earlier in the game, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph had back-to-back homers to headline a five-run first inning.

Franco leads the team with 19 homers and Joseph, hitting .375 with six homers in his last 17 games, has 14 in just 57 games with the club.

Altherr, who batted fifth behind Franco and Joseph, also had two hard singles in the game.

“He had a really good night in his debut,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He provided a spark for us. He added to the offense. So I'm happy for that. It's good to get a win. We scored some runs, finally.”

Altherr was projected to be a starter in the Phillies’ opening day outfield until he suffered the wrist injury in spring training. He spent the last four months in Clearwater, rehabbing and, well, dreaming of a night like this.

“Definitely, especially sitting around thinking about how that first game's going to be being back,” he said. “For it to be like this, it was definitely special and I have to thank the Lord above for getting me back here as fast as He could.

“I was hoping to get a home run in the first game, but I definitely wasn't expecting it. Just hopeful. To have it happen like that was definitely awesome.

“It definitely surprised me a little bit because I hadn't really been driving the ball like I had wanted to down in my rehab stints. I'm just glad to know I've got [the power] in there somewhere.”

The Phillies hit all three of their home runs and scored all their runs against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler. He received a ticket to Triple A after the game.

The Phillies batted around against Wisler and scored five runs in the first inning. That was a welcome cushion for Nola, who desperately needed a win after failing to get one in his previous seven starts. The right-hander did manage to earn his first win since June 5, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. He lasted just five innings and threw a whopping 95 pitches as he continued to experience command issues that have been plaguing him in recent weeks.

Nola gave up eight hits and three runs. He walked three and hit a batter. That’s not Aaron Nola’s game. At least it wasn’t in his first 12 starts this season. He recorded a 2.65 ERA over that span and walked just 15 while striking out 85. He has walked 14 in his last eight starts.

“He's not the same guy,” Mackanin said. “He's just struggling with command once again. He's not dotting his fastball like he normally does. His curveball is erratic. He needs to get back on track.

“Sometimes it's harder to pitch when you have a big lead. You know you don't want to blow it. That can affect a pitcher as well. You have to have that mental toughness either way, whether it's a one-run game or an 8-0 game. You don't want to pitch poorly. There's a tendency, well, you have a five-run lead, should I throw more fastballs and challenge? But it was good to see he got a win. I'm happy for that. That should help him. He just needs to get to where he was. He's not there yet.”

Nola described his outing as “fairly OK,” which was probably right on. He got the win, but overall was not sharp. He allowed three runs in the fifth inning.

“I ran into some jams there,” he said. “I left some balls over the plate for them to hit. They took them the other way. The plan was to try to hit the outside part of the plate and they took it away.

“I feel like I have the command for the most part, but there’s some areas I still need to get better at and work to get better at.”

The Phillies used four relievers to close out the game. Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris pitched well. David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez did not. Gomez allowed three base runners and a run, but still managed to get the save. Hernandez allowed a hit and a pair of two-out walks before giving up an RBI double. A number of scouts from teams looking for bullpen help were on hand. Hernandez and Gomez probably did not help their trade value. Four days before the deadline, starter Jeremy Hellickson is still the Phillie most likely to be dealt.

Best of MLB: Sale loses in White Sox return, Chapman saves Cubs' 3-1 win

Best of MLB: Sale loses in White Sox return, Chapman saves Cubs' 3-1 win

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale returned from his jersey-trashing suspension and threw six effective innings, but John Lackey outpitched him and Aroldis Chapman got the final four outs to save the Cubs' 3-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago's rivalry series Thursday night.

Sale (14-4) was greeted with smiles and hugs from his teammates following a five-day ban for tearing up 1976-style uniforms he didn't want to wear before his previous scheduled start. He had command issues, but worked out of trouble while allowing two runs and six hits.

Lackey (8-7) allowed one run in six innings for his first win since June 8. Chapman, in his second appearance since being acquired from the Yankees, struck out two and consistently hit 102 mph in his first save for his new team.

Kris Bryant, who homered against Sale in the All-Star Game, hit an RBI double off the center field wall in the first inning (see full recap). 

Diaz's homer helps Cardinals beat Marlins and Fernandez, 5-4
MIAMI -- Aledmys Diaz homered, doubled and drove in three runs against childhood pal Jose Fernandez, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 5-4 Thursday.

Fernandez gave up five runs in five innings and fell to 26-2 at Marlins Park.

Miami's Dee Gordon, the 2015 NL batting and stolen bases champion, returned from an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test and went 0 for 4. Ichiro Suzuki doubled as a pinch hitter in the seventh for Miami and needs two hits for 3,000.

Diaz and Matt Holliday homered in the third inning against Fernandez (12-5), who had never previously given up more than one homer in a home game. His only other loss at Marlins Park came on opening day this year against Detroit.

Michael Wacha (6-7) allowed three runs in six innings, and three relievers completed an eight-hitter. Seung Hwan Oh pitched around a one-out single in the ninth for his seventh save (see full recap). 

Familia falters again, Rockies rally for 2-1 win over Mets
NEW YORK -- Mets steady closer Jeurys Familia stumbled for a second straight game, allowing two runs in the ninth inning as the Colorado Rockies beat New York 2-1 Thursday for their seventh win in eight games.

Less than 24 hours after Familia's streak of 52 consecutive regular-season saves was snapped, the right-hander entered in the top of the ninth with a 1-0 lead, and couldn't hold it.

Trevor Story had a leadoff single and stole second. After fellow rookie David Dahl walked, Daniel Descalso bunted up the first base line. Mets catcher Rene Rivera watched as the ball spun toward foul territory but it stopped fair, loading the bases with no out.

With one out, Familia (2-3) got pinch-hitter Cristhian Adames to hit a slow grounder to the right side. First baseman James Loney booted the ball and Story scored to make it 1-all. Familia then threw a wild pitch, allowing Dahl to cross the plate with the go-ahead run (see full recap).