Boo You Huskies: Sixers Creamed By Wolves at Home

Boo You Huskies: Sixers Creamed By Wolves at Home

So that happened. Of all the many remarkable things about this 105-88
Sixers loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the most remarkable might be
this: Starting Minny frontcourt Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic scored a
combined 12 points. If you saw "Wolves 105, Sixers 88" in a box score in
your local paper, you'd probably think "OK, that makes sense—Love and
Pekovic must've eaten the Sixers alive inside, since Philly has
virtually no frontcourt." But no, just 12 points—and only 15 rebounds
combined too, so it's not like they offensive-boarded the Sixers to
death either. How the hell do the Sixers lose by 17 to the Wolves—who,
by the way, are still missing about half their roster to injury—when
their primary advantage goes almost totally unabused?

Well,
hitting 13 threes helps. Though Love and Pekovic didn't score or board
to their standards, that's not to say they weren't essential to the
Wolves' attack—they set some massive screens with their big bodies that
the Sixers' backcourt, particularly Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, found
absolutely impossible to navigate around, springing their guards for
some inconceivably open looks from beyond and elsewhere. (Not that Jrue
and ET necessarily did their best to get around them, either.) Suddenly,
the likes of Josh Howard, Malcolm Lee and Derrick Williams were
lighting it up—seven Wolves scored in double figures, and again, neither
were Love or Pekovic, their two leading scorers per game.

And
as the Wolves bombed away from three, the Sixers found themselves unable
to answer in a similar fashion. The sixth-best three-point-shooting
team in the league went 5-20 from three tonight, with the team's
arguable two best deep threats, Jrue and Jason Richardson, combining to
go 0-7. (Remarkably, Evan's hot three-point shooting continued tonight,
with the Extraterrestrial going 2-4 from deep.) Add to that a miserable
13-23 performance at the free-throw line, and the Sixers never had a
shot to keep up with the Wolves on offense, as their defense kept being
gashed for uncontested jumpers.

Now, to a certain extent, the
Wolves were just white-hot, and got a little lucky tonight—they entered
the game the worst three-point-shooting team in the league, so even with
a shambolic Sixers defensive effort, they probably wouldn't make that
many threes most nights. (One from Josh Howard that bounced off and in
after the Sixers opened the third with a quick four points was
particularly back-breaking.) But the lack of fight from the Sixers to
contend on defense, especially in the first half as the game quickly
slipped away from them, has to be seen as disturbing, and certainly
Coach Collins thought so, forgoing his traditional opening remarks at
his post-game conference and expressing frustration and confusion at the
team's lack of effort.

Looking for positives, the team's
starting lineup again scored fairly well, with four of five in double
figures, and Evan Turner leading the way with 19, though he needed 20
shots to do it. You could see Evan's jumper slipping away over the
course of this game, and his confidence along with it, looking
frustrated after just missing a couple good looks and badly missing a
couple free throws—never a good sign with Evan, who has been relatively
steady from the stripe this season. Both Evan and Jrue were guilty of
offensive stagnation tonight, and Malik and Zumoff were killing them for
taking too many quick jumpers in the half-court, without allowing for
any kind of play to develop. (Jrue ended with just 13 on as many shots,
though he did have nine assists.)

But it wasn't really the
starting lineup that killed them in this game, at least not on offense.
The bench was absolutely miserable, being outscored by Minny's reserves
57-22. As much as the Sixers could use the development of a young backup
point guard, Maalik Wayns has just been awful on both sides of the ball
in limited minutes this season, ending tonight with two points on 1-6
shooting. Spencer Hawes was nearly as bad, filling out the box score a
little in garbage time but failing to really contribute anything of
substance with the game actually on. Is this really the same guy who was
our best offensive player the first week or two of the season? How
could he possibly suck this badly now? Anyway, you'd neverthink the team
would miss Nick Young so badly, but somebody has to score off this bench.

Next
up, we have a home-and-home in back-to-back nights with the Celtics. At
10-8, the sky is hardly falling for the Sixers, but with two losses in a
row and the schedule only getting harder from here, Philly really needs
to win one of those two games against Boston to keep their head above
water. Otherwise, we might be heading for lottery balls sooner than
you'd think.

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

MIAMI -- Mike Trout hit his major league-leading 16th homer, and the Los Angeles Angels reached the .500 mark for the 12th time this season by beating Miami 5-2 Saturday.

Trout's first-inning homer into the beer garden in left field was estimated at 443 feet, which pleased a fair portion of the crowd at Marlins Park.

"Hate Fish Love Trout," read a sign held by an Angels fans.

J.C. Ramirez (5-3) limited Miami to an unearned run in seven innings and benefited from excellent defense. Bud Norris, who tweaked his right knee and left Friday's game after throwing only three pitches, gave up a homer to Marcell Ozuna in the ninth (see full recap).

Strasburg K's career-high 15, Nats down Padres 3-0
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg dominated San Diego with a career-high 15 strikeouts while allowing three hits over seven innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Padres 3-0 on Saturday.

Strasburg (6-1) singled and scored Washington's first run on Bryce Harper's RBI grounder in the third inning. Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer for the second consecutive game.

San Diego's lineup offered little resistance against Strasburg the day after Max Scherzer dominated the Padres with 13 strikeouts in Washington's 5-1 win.

Strasburg struck out the side in the third and sixth and had at least two in the first six innings.

The right-hander previously struck out 14 batters twice including his Major League debut on June 8, 2010. He set a personal best by setting down Franchy Cordero in the seventh (see full recap).

Yankees held hitless into 6th by Cotton, but beat A's 3-2
NEW YORK -- Oakland rookie Jharel Cotton held the Yankees hitless until Matt Holliday launched a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning that sent resurgent CC Sabathia and New York to a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was in the right spot for a pair of key catches to boost the AL East leaders, who won with just two hits.

Sabathia (5-2) has won three straight starts for the first time since April 2013. The 36-year-old lefty pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Dellin Betances escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth, an inning that included the ejections of A's hitter Jed Lowrie and manager Bob Melvin for arguing strike three calls. Betances closed for his fifth save.

Cotton (3-5) was promoted from Triple-A Nashville before the game. He began the season in the Athletics' rotation but was sent down to the minors May 11 to refine his game (see full recap).

Bautista hits 3-run HR, Blue Jays beat Rangers 3-1
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer that backed Marco Estrada, and the Toronto Blue Bays beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 Saturday and matched their longest winning streak this season at five.

Shin-soo Choo homered into the center-field party deck on the first pitch of the game from Marco Estrada, but Bautista hit a two-out drive in the fifth, his eighth home run in May after one in April.

Estrada (4-2) allowed four hits in six innings to win for the third time in four starts. Aaron Loup got one out in the seventh, Ryan Tepera finished the inning and Joe Smith worked the eighth. Roberto Osuna threw a perfect ninth for his ninth save, completing a six-hitter.

Darvish (5-3) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. He had been 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in six starts since losing April 18 at Oakland. Texas has lost five in a row for the first time this year (see full recap).

Reliever Joaquin Benoit gives manager Mackanin a thumbs-up for calling team meeting

Reliever Joaquin Benoit gives manager Mackanin a thumbs-up for calling team meeting

Pete Mackanin gave his team an earful after it lost for the 21st time in 26 games Friday night.
 
Reliever Joaquin Benoit thought it was a good idea.
 
And he believes it had an impact.
 
The Phillies reported for work on Saturday and beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-3, on Tommy Joseph's walk-off hit in the ninth (see game story).
 
"It always helps when the manager comes and talks about different situations and the things we need to do," said Benoit, a 39-year-old veteran in his 17th big-league season. "It always helps. It shows that everybody cares on the whole team and it's a wake-up call for everybody."
 
While Joseph was the ultimate hero for the Phillies on Saturday, Benoit and his mates in the bullpen weren't far behind. Edubray Ramos, Pat Neshek, Benoit and Hector Neris combined on 3 2/3 scoreless innings to help put Joseph in a position to win it in the ninth.
 
Not long ago, the Phillies' bullpen was having big problems, giving up big hits and posting big ERA numbers.
 
But over the last five games, the bullpen has racked up a string of scoreless innings that numbers 19 2/3. That scoreless streak has lowered the bullpen's overall ERA from 4.82 to 4.23, not great, but better and moving in the right direction.
 
"I believe that we are going good, taking advantage of the situation," Benoit said. "I think we are being more consistent in the strike zone and getting ahead. That translates to zeroes."
 
Benoit had been critical of Mackanin for not having his relievers in set roles. The manager responded by saying it was difficult to give guys set roles when they were pitching poorly.
 
Performances are improving.

And roles are now emerging.
 
"I believe everything is going well for us and I believe everyone is where they are supposed to be," Benoit said.
 
Benoit took some pride in Saturday's win. He has pitched seven straight scoreless innings.
 
"Every win is a step forward," he said.
 
No matter how many steps this Phillies team takes forward, it will not be a contender this season. It has dug itself a huge hole and it wasn't expected to contend anyway. It is a rebuilding team.
 
But Benoit will likely pitch for a contender later this season. He is expected to be dealt to a contender in July. Who knows what he will bring back, but his value will only go up if he can keep putting up zeroes.
 
Neshek, too. He has allowed just two runs in 18 2/3 innings. He has 15 strikeouts and just three walks.
 
While it's not clear how long Benoit will be here, he believes this Phillies team has weathered the worst and is ready for a turnaround.
 
"It's tough when you are losing," he said. "When you start winning and you do the little things, I believe everything can change.
 
"I'm the kind of guy who likes to start over from zero so everything that happens is in the past and you start over from scratch and let's see where everything goes from now on."