Eagles can't afford loss to 49ers


Eagles can't afford loss to 49ers

The Eagles are running out of time. Running out of chances.

Its getting to be just about time where the Eagles are going to find out if theyre truly a contender or if theyre going to have to be content being the worlds most talented last-place team.

Eagles-49ers Sunday at the Linc, and a loss to the 2-1 Niners would put the Eagles in a precarious position a quarter of the way through the season.

Only one team in NFL history has ever started out 1-3 and won the Super Bowl. And it was coached by Bill Belichick.

We know ... the importance of this game, NFC rushing leader LeSean McCoy said. We kind of realize were in a tight situation, backs against the wall. What are you going to do? And the only thing you can do is respond.

I think everybody is ready to roll, ready to play. We should be fine. The mind set of the team is a must-win game. On both sides of the ball. Each player take care of their business, do their job, we should be fine.

Since the inception of the current playoff format in 1990, some 21 teams have opened a season 1-3 (or worse, in the 1992 Chargers case) and made the playoffs, including the 1990 and 1995 Eagles. The only one to reach a Super Bowl was the 2001 Patriots.

Historically, September has been the Eagles worst month -- by far -- under head coach Andy Reid.

The Eagles are 23-20 in September since 1999 (.535) but 27-19 in October (.587), 32-18-1 in November (.637) and 37-15 in December (.712) -- not counting games Reid didnt play his starters.

This September was the Eagles first losing month since September 2007, ended a streak of 15 consecutive non-losing months.

We understand that we put ourselves in this situation, said quarterback Michael Vick, whos been unable to finish either of the last two games. Obviously, it could have been better but we had certain things that happened. Some things we have control over and some things we dont. And the only thing we can control is the situation thats in front of us right now and going out and taking care of it, and we as players are the only ones that can control that.

The Eagles problems are simple ones and familiar ones.

Penalties. Turnovers. Red zone.

Each and every snap that were together we continue to get better each and every week and learn from my mistakes, Vick said. And hopefully well continue to gel and things will turn around for us, and I think it will.

The Eagles are one of only three NFL teams ranked among the top-12 in both offense and defense, yet theyre 1-2 because of mistakes and sloppy play.

Were kind of hurting ourselves, McCoy said. Get down to the red zone, get in there. Get the points. The opportunity to make big plays, we usually make them. Converting on third downs. The little stuff. If we can convert the little stuff, well be OK.

Finishing and stuff. Its the small stuff. I think thats the big problem with us. The little stuff.

The Eagles are quickly learning that simply having great players doesnt make a great team. If you dont play 60 minutes, if you dont play smart, youre not going to beat anybody.

Dont get wrapped up in the expectations, McCoy said. Were a great team, and weve just start playing like it. I think when teams watch the tape and they actually scout us, our play is better than our record. We just have to come out and finish.

The 49ers come to the Linc with a quiet offense but a playmaking defense led by Patrick Willis and tremendous special teams with returner Ted Ginn, punter Andy Lee and kicker David Akers. Theyre seeking their first 3-1 start since 2002, when their quarterback was Jeff Garcia.

The play of their front seven, Maclin said when asked what concerns him about the Niners. Those guys can get after the quarterback, 3-4 scheme, they can throw so many different blitzes at you in so many different ways, and we understand thats what theyre probably going to try to do, and the way you beat that is being precise, and when they throw something out there, youve got to counter it.

Only five teams have gained more yards than the Eagles. Only 11 have allowed fewer yards. Yet the Eagles are teetering on the brink of 1-3.

When will they get this figured out? And when they do -- if they do -- will it be too late?

I think were right there, Maclin said. I think were showing spurts where offense is unstoppable, defense has gone through spurts where the d-line is dominating and the cornerbacks arent giving up anything. We know we have the potential, we know we have the talent to do it, now weve got to go out and do it. But I think were right there.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Cubs use three homers to beat Morgan and Phillies' feeble offense


Cubs use three homers to beat Morgan and Phillies' feeble offense


CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs were everything they were advertised to be on Friday afternoon/evening.
They pitched.
They hit.
And they looked like what they are – the best team in the majors – as they put a whoopin’ on Adam Morgan and a Phillies club that is slowly cooling after its hot start.
The Cubs rode three home runs to a 6-2 win over the Phils at Wrigley Field (see Instant Replay). It was the Phils’ third loss in four games on this road trip and fifth in the last seven games.

As if the loss wasn't enough, the Phillies' misery was stretched out by a pair of late-game rain delays that totaled 1 hour, 33 minutes.
Scoring runs continues to be a great challenge for the local nine, which entered the day averaging just 3.3 runs per game. The Phils have been held to two or fewer runs 16 times in their 48 games. For the season, they have been outscored by 35 runs.
The Phils are still over .500 at 26-22, but they might not be much longer if they don’t find some offense. They had 10 hits in the game, but only one for extra bases.
"We couldn't string anything together," manager Pete Mackanin lamented afterward.

Mackanin was asked if he was worried the offensive shortcomings were catching up with the team.
“I wouldn’t say I’m worried about it,” he said. “I’ve been conscious of it the whole season. We certainly would like to have more offense, a little bit more power.
“You look at the Cubs, you look at the Tigers, they’ve got power and home-run threats to do damage. We haven’t been able to do that. So, of course, I’m always concerned it might catch up with us, but as long as the pitching does its job we’re going to be in as many games as they allow us to be in.”
Starting pitching is a big reason the Phillies came into Wrigley Field five games over .500. It has kept them in games to the point where a big hit or big defensive play can win it.
But the starting pitching was not there in this game and that’s a problem when you’re facing the Cubs. They are a team has been built to break a 108-year World Series championship drought. They are averaging 5.7 runs per game, best in the National League, and have outscored their opponents by a whopping 123 runs. Their 32 wins are the most in the majors.
The Cubs pounded Morgan for six runs in four innings. He was tagged for eight hits and five were for extra bases, including three homers.
Morgan really struggled in the fourth inning. He gave up a mammoth 461-foot homer to Jorge Soler to lead off the frame. Four batters later, David Ross followed a walk and a single with a three-run home run to left and the Friday afternoon Happy Hour was on at Wrigley – at least until the skies opened in the seventh. Morgan gave up a third home run (to Kris Bryant) in the fifth.
“You try to be consistent and give your team a chance to win,” Morgan said. “When you put them in a hole like that it’s hard.”
Two of the homers Morgan allowed came on 1-2 counts. One was on a slider, the other a fastball. Neither put the hitter away, obviously. Poor location.
“Morgan didn’t have it today,” Mackanin said. “He really didn’t have command of any of his pitches. He struggled to make pitches when he needed to. You can overcome a solo home run, but that home run by Ross was the one that got us out of the game.”
In six starts, Morgan has an ERA of 6.67.
“He’s one good start, one bad start, one good start, one bad start. He's got to be more consistent,” Mackanin said. “At this level you have to be consistent to be successful. He’s capable of doing it. He just has to do it.”
Mackanin was asked whether Morgan’s spot in the rotation was in jeopardy. He did not give a direct answer.
“Nobody is solid in their spots,” the manager said. “Last year, I talked a lot about how you’re auditioning every day. At this level, consistency is the hallmark of a good major-league player. That includes pitchers.”

Instant Replay: Cubs 6, Phillies 2


Instant Replay: Cubs 6, Phillies 2


CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs, on the strength of three home runs, hammered the Phillies, 6-2, at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon/evening.
Phillies starter Adam Morgan was hit hard.
The loss dropped the Phillies to 26-22. They are 1-3 on this road trip and have lost five of their last seven overall.
The Phillies entered the day averaging just 3.3 runs per game, the second-lowest mark in the majors. They have been held to two or fewer runs 16 times in their 48 games. 
The Cubs have the majors’ best record at 32-14. They are averaging a National League-best 5.7 runs per game.
The game was delayed 56 minutes by rain in the seventh inning.
It was delayed again for 37 minutes in the top of the ninth.
Starting pitching report
Morgan was tagged for six runs in four-plus innings as his ERA swelled to 6.67 in six starts. He was bruised for eight hits. Five were for extra bases and three were homers. One of the homers, a mammoth blast by Jorge Soler, traveled 461 feet.
Lefty Jon Lester got the win. He gave up just two runs over 6 1/3 innings and one was unearned.
Bullpen report
Andrew Bailey, Brett Oberholtzer and Colton Murray pitched scoreless ball for the Phillies.
Trevor Cahill and Hector Rondon finished it out for the Cubs.
At the plate
Maikel Franco drove in both of the Phillies’ runs with a sacrifice fly and an infield hit.
The Phillies had 10 hits, but only one for extra bases, a double by Odubel Herrera.
Tommy Joseph started at first base against the lefty Lester. He singled in his first at-bat, grounded out and struck out twice. Ryan Howard entered the game after the rain delay and struck out in his only at-bat.
Soler, David Ross and Kris Bryant all homered for the Cubs against Morgan. Ross’ was a three-run shot with one out in the fourth.
In the field
Freddy Galvis made several outstanding plays at shortstop.
The Cubs made two errors in the third inning and the Phillies capitalized for an unearned run.
Health check
Cody Asche (oblique) and Mario Hollands (elbow) both had their injury rehab assignments shifted to Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Asche’s 20-day rehab assignment is set to run out on Wednesday at which time the Phillies can bring him to the majors or option him to Triple A. Actually, the Phils could bring him to the majors before if they choose.
Right-hander Mark Appel, pitching at Lehigh Valley, was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, which might explain the big drop in velocity he experienced in his last start.
The Phillies promoted Ben Lively to Lehigh Valley to take Appel’s spot. Lively was off to a tremendous start at Double A. The 24-year-old righty was 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA and a 0.943 WHIP in nine starts.
Up next
Jerad Eickhoff (2-6, 3.86) pitches Saturday afternoon against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (2-4, 3.30).

Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare added to World Cup rosters


Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare added to World Cup rosters

Turns out the hip and abdominal surgeries for both Flyers captain Claude Giroux and rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere weren’t a deterrent from making their countries’ respective World Cup of Hockey rosters.
Also going will be center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who was added to Team Europe’s roster.
All three Flyers were “add-ons” to Team Canada, Team North America and Team Europe as the final rosters were announced on Friday night.
The World Cup of Hockey tournament begins in September 17 and ends on Oct. 1.

Giroux, 28, has twice represented Canada at the World Championships and once in World Junior competition.
Gostisbehere, 23,  represented the U.S. internationally once the World Juniors. Team North America is all players 23-and-under or “Young Stars” as some refer to them.
Despite his poorest offensive output in three years, Giroux still led the Flyers with 67 points this season, playing in his 500th career game and scoring his 500th point. He won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP.
Gostisbehere took the NHL by storm as a November fill-in for the injured Mark Streit and ended up becoming a Calder Trophy finalist. That award will be announced in late June. 
He quickly ended up as the team’s first unit power play quarterback, and led all rookie defensemen in points (46), while establishing several club rookie records, including goals by a Flyers defenseman (17).
Gostisbehere was voted the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the team’s best defenseman and the Gene Hart Memorial Award, given by the Flyers’ fan club to the players possessing the most “heart.”
Bellemare, 32, had 14 points this season as a valuable fourth line checking center and penalty killer. He also celebrated his 100th game as a Flyer. He figures to be a role player for Team Europe.
Ghost and Giroux both had off-season surgery on May 17. Their recovery is approximately 10-12 weeks. Both are expected at Flyers’ training camp in September.
Incidentally, the Flyers had just 167 man-games lost due to injury this past season. That’s the fewest number of injuries since 1998-99 when they had 120.
In all, the Flyers will send eight players – Bellemare, Giroux, Gostisbehere, center Sean Couturier (North America), defenseman Mark Streit (Team Europe), and three players from the Czech Republic – defenseman Radko Gudas, goalie Michal Neuvirth and forward Jakub Voracek.
Eight teams will compete in the tournament with every game being played at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Philadelphia was one of the host cities for the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in 1996 when the Wells Fargo Center first opened as the CoreStates Center.