Cliff Lee Kicks Off Big Series in San Fran

Cliff Lee Kicks Off Big Series in San Fran

Cliff Lee (10-7, 3.14) wasn't on the Phillies last year to pitch against the Giants in the NLCS, but he did take on the eventual 2011 Champions of Baseball twice in the World Series. Unfortunately for the Texas Rangers, Lee lost both of those starts including a rough 6 ER effort in only 4.2 innings of work in game one.

But Lee hasn't always struggled against the Giants, however, including his first ever start as a Phillie back in 2009 when he took a no-hitter into the 6th inning at AT&T Park. He went on to a complete game shutout victory on that day, pretty much making the best first impression a fanbase could ever ask for.

Clifton and the Phillies will take on left-hander Madison Bumgarner (6-10, 3.80) who was one of the guys who played a key role in helping the Giants move on to the Fall Classic last season. He started game four of the NLCS which the Giants went on to win, which gave them a 3-1 series lead. He also later pitched two scoreless innings of relief in the decisive game six.

As for the Phillies new right-handed outfielder brought in specifically to help counter team's left-handed hurlers? Pence has yet to face Bumgarner.

While the Giants came into Philly last week and took a series from the Phils, they have not been playing great ball since then, including a season-high 5-game losing streak which they finally slapped with a win yesterday over the Diamondbacks.

That said, this four game set still features two teams many expect to be the favorites to represent the NL in the World Series come October.

Oh, and Charlie Manuel and Tim Lincecum have been talking a bit, spicing things up between two teams that have a nice little rivalry going.

Tonight's Lineup: Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry, Carlos Ruiz, Wilson Valdez, and Cliff Lee.

Don't worry, Phils fans. Utley is simply getting an off day, according to Jim Salisbury. Remember when we thought Utley was going to get regular off days?

Mad Dog Missing: Ryan Madson is on paternity leave so Scott Mathieson has taken his roster spot.

A very late 10:15 EST start for those of us on the East Coast. But the views of the ballpark in San Fran are so pretty, you'll want to tune in.

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

What is there to say about the Philadelphia Phillies?

In doing my usual postgame perusal of the Internet after their 7-2 loss on Wednesday night, I visited Phillies.com to see what kind of "highlights" they could have possibly posted from another crushing defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.

Thankfully, the first thing that caught my eye was a video titled, "Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby."

It was not Larry Andersen in the Phanatic's arms. Nor me.

And that's the Phillies season in a nutshell.

"You gotta question the parenting skills here," John Kruk said on the telecast. And he's right! What kind of parent would raise their kid to be a Philly sports fan?!?

The Phillies now have the worst record in all of baseball. They're 4-20 in their last 24 games. It's their worst start to a season since 1960.

Even the Phanatic doesn't have enough popcorn to mask all the pain.

If you want to read about the upbeat approach Pete Mackanin is taking, go give this a gander.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen," Mackanin told reporters. "I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

That makes one of us.

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.