With Division Crown Within Grasp, Manuel May Be Scoreboard Watching

With Division Crown Within Grasp, Manuel May Be Scoreboard Watching

Charlie Manuel talked for longer than usual prior to tonight's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Topics ranged from how good of an arm he had as an outfielder back in the day -- a good one, of course -- to how the giant scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park, with all the different information and numbers, reminds him of CNBC's Squawkbox TV show monitoring the stock market.

It's a lot easier to talk at length while being more open when your team is cruising into the postseason. There's a chance the Phillies could take another important step on their quest towards the World Series tonight. If the Phillies beat the Cardinals at CBP and the Mets beat the Braves down in Atlanta, the team will clinch its fifth-straight NL East crown.

I asked Charlie before the game if he'd be checking the scoreboard at all throughout the night with the outcome in Atlanta potentially impacting whether or not he needs to wear goggles later this evening.

"Probably. I've been looking at the scoreboard ever since the season started. This one's big enough to see. Matter of fact, this one's got enough stuff on it, it's kind of like looking at Squawkbox or something."

Clinching the division is a big step, but it's not nearly as big as it was a few seasons ago. Plus, there's the fact that they're doing it with two weeks left in the season. How does this team keep the passion levels so high? How do they keep the foot on the gas?

Manuel said the addition of the pitching staff that is hungry and has yet to win a title is a big part of it. His core guys aren't satisfied with only one title. Cole Hamels famously said on that celebration day at CBP in 2008 that he wanted to ride down Broad St. as a champion again, and again, and again. There's the right fielder who has added tremendous energy to the ball club.

Then there's Philadelphia.

Charlie was asked about the atmosphere that's created here and whether it helps the Phillies retain their passion.

"I think this city, I think the ballpark, I think the fans, I think everything about it," Manuel said. "I think the way that we talk -- the way that our players talk. The attitude of the players has to be that way. All of the things -- the noise, the loudness, the fact that we fill our ballpark up. They like to play here and they like to play in front of our fans."

Those fans wouldn't mind an extra treat tonight.

The plastic is hanging above the lockers, waiting to be draped down. The champagne is on ice.

Could be a nice little pre-party tonight in South Philly. But we all know the real party won't happen for another month and a half. We all want a rager then.


Tonight's starters are Vance Worley (11-2, 2.92) vs. Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.68)

Tonight's Lineup: Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Pence, Polanco, Mayberry, Francisco, Schneider, and Worley.


Clincher? The Braves-Mets game starts a half hour later than the Phils game tonight. If the Phils win, and the Braves game is still in progress, the team said there is a chance they put it on the jumbotron at Citizens Bank Park.

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader


The Warriors are the blueprint of a total team in the NBA. They have a star-studded starting lineup and a top sixth man with the positional versatility that creates hard-to-combat matchups.

Yet, as the Warriors notched their 50th win of the season, 119-108, in a collaborative effort against the Sixers, they gave credit to the potential they see in their opponent, even when Brett Brown didn't have his key pieces on the court Monday (see Instant Replay).

"They play hard," Stephen Curry said. "They have some talent to work around. Hopefully they have some consistency with their roster going forward and getting guys healthy. One thing about them, you've got to compliment their energy and effort and fight every night they play."

Facing the Warriors with a full squad is challenging enough. The Sixers did it shorthanded without Joel Embiid, who is out indefinitely with a left knee contusion (see story). They also are less than a week removed from trading starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova and the defensive-minded Nerlens Noel.

"You've got to give this team a lot of credit," Draymond Green said. "They're going to be really, really, really good. I mean, they're missing Embiid and Ben Simmons and they're really on their way."

With 10 available players, including Justin Anderson, who has had just one shootaround to actually get a run in with the team, the Sixers fought until the final buzzer sounded. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 21 points and seven assists, while also collecting seven rebounds. Gerald Henderson scored 16 and both Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes added 15 (see feature highlight). Covington also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

"They play the right way," Klay Thompson said. "They made it tough on us tonight. I'm excited to see their team when Embiid and Simmons are healthy. It should be a scary frontcourt, and with Saric. They're heading in the right direction. They'll only get better this June because they have some high picks. It's a bright future in Philly."

The Sixers held the Warriors to 6 for 29 three-point shooting (20.7 percent), including an 0-for-11 outing by Curry. This was the third time this season and only the 37th time in his career Curry missed all of his three-point attempts.

"I think he had an off night," Brown said. "I think at times we got lucky with them as a team. They didn't shoot it the way the team normally would shoot it. Some of it is I give our guys credit."

Curry took his uncharacteristic performance, which included a pair of air-balls, in stride.

"The weatherman said it was a low-pressure system that was coming and I forgot to adjust," Curry said. "One thing, [I] don't ever get down on myself. Obviously that's why I got 11 of them up and not make one. You still have confidence the next one's going in."

Still, the Warriors turned to team basketball to pull away with the win. While they struggled from long range, they found other ways to run up the scoreboard, including shooting 33 for 39 at the free throw line.

Kevin Durant led all players with 27 points to go with eight rebounds. Green recorded a 14-point, 11-assist double-double and six boards. Thompson scored 21 points and Zaza Pachulia added 16. And at the end of the night, Curry still finished with 19 points in spite of his three-point woes.

"We've been doing this for a while together now and just try to find ways to get it done," Green said. "Obviously you've got to do a lot more on the defensive end to get stops, and try to create more offense. I think it was a good effort from everybody tonight to chip in."

Added Curry: "For us to still have the moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O."

The Warriors are a perennial title contender thanks to their balanced roster and depth of weapons. The Sixers are in the beginning stages of working toward that goal. After Monday's game, the NBA's strongest example of "team" appreciated the direction in which Sixers are moving.

"Putting this franchise back together," Green said, "it's amazing to see."

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund beat two defenders to find open ice and wrap the winning shot around goalie Jonathan Quick just 12 seconds into overtime, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

Granlund's 20th goal of the season gave goalie Devan Dubnyk his NHL-leading 33rd win and the Wild their 15th comeback victory. They answered all four goals in regulation by the Kings, from Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Marian Gaborik.

Jason Zucker's spinning wrist shot midway through the third period tied the game for the Wild, who also had goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White in his debut. White and Martin Hanzal were acquired in a trade with Arizona the night before (see full recap).

Kucherov's hat trick carries Lightning past Sens
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nikita Kucherov scored three power-play goals in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Kucherov had the second hat trick of his career and added an assist in the third period. Jonathan Drouin assisted all three of his goals and Victor Hedman assisted on two.

A day after trading goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and just hours after trading forward Brian Boyle to Toronto, the Lightning improved to 6-1-2 over their past nine games.

The Senators, who won at Florida on Sunday night, are 6-6 over their past 12 games (see full recap).

Galchenyuk lifts Canadiens over Devils in OT
NEWARK, N.J. -- Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play at 2:54 of overtime and the Montreal Canadiens rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Monday night.

Max Pacioretty scored twice in the final 11:23 of regulation to tie the game and Alexander Radulov added a goal for the Canadiens, who won consecutive games for the first time since early January. Al Montoya had 34 saves for Montreal.

Kyle Palmieri, John Moore and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have lost four straight games (0-2-2), the past two in overtime. Cory Schneider made 29 saves.

Galchenyuk beat Schneider with a shot from between the circles less than a minute after Damon Severson was penalized for hooking (see full recap).