Hamels Guts Marlins, But Leaves Early... Plus: A Five-Homer Night for Phils

Hamels Guts Marlins, But Leaves Early... Plus: A Five-Homer Night for Phils

Cole Hamels dominated, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Dom Brown went yard, and the Phillies took game one of their four game series against Florida Marlins by a final of 9-1. However, just when it felt like they were on top of the world, Hamels left the game in the eighth inning with an apparent back issue.

For about an hour or so, it seemed things might not go the home team's way on Tuesday night. Viewers were treated to a sixty minute block of The Charlie Manuel Show while the start of the game was delayed by rain. Then once the action finally got underway, the Marlins grouped together a couple of quick singles off Cole, and were able to jump out to a 1-0 first inning lead on a softly hit ball up the first base line.

The threat would not last very long.

Home Run Derby
Howard got to Phillies' punching bag Chris Volstad right away, going to opposite field to take a 2-1 lead from which they would never look back. It was Howard's seventh career home run in 25 official at bats against the Florida righty.

But the offense wasn't finished. The Phils notched their first five-dinger game of the season, with Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins each adding two-run blasts of their own, and Domonic Brown grabbing a table for one—twice. Brown's second found its way into Citizen Bank Park's 200 level with ease.

Four of the five bombs came off of Volstad, who is now 0-6 over his last nine starts versus the Phils. He lasted 5.2, perhaps in a futile effort to preserve the bullpen for tomorrow's double header.

The Phillies previously had not hit four home runs or more in a game this season.

Hamels Dominant, But...
While the recent offensive surge is certainly something to talk about, undoubtedly aided in large part by the red hot Utley, the real story of the game was once again Hamels. Once the Phillies took back the lead in the first, the game's outcome was never in jeopardy.

The win is Cole's ninth, tied for the most in baseball. He settled in nicely after the two Marlins singles that led to their lone run, retiring 17 consecutive batters between the first and sixth innings. That stretch could have been even longer were it not for a Howard error, his first of the season.

Again, Hamels did exit prematurely in the top of the eighth after issuing a walk to Wes Helms. With a huge lead in tact, the staff opted not to take any chances and pulled him at the first sign of discomfort, so there is no way of knowing how serious it is or not at this point. The team announced Hamels had "tightness in his middle back."

David Herndon replaced Hamels, throwing scoreless eighth and ninth frames.

As we mentioned pregame, Hamels may have been a little lost in the shuffle before the season began. Regardless of who throws where in the rotation or who reporters and fans pay the most attention to, there is no debating that King Cole is looking like one of the premier pitchers in all of baseball of late.

We can only hope his injury anything that sets him back or causes him to miss much if any time.

Are They Back?
The other take-home from tonight is the continued emergence of the offense. We don't want to get too excited, as the recent increase in production came against the lowly Cubs, and tonight at the expense of Volstad, whom they routinely pummel.

Still, with Utley beginning to come through and showing signs that his power is returning, there are some reasons to be encouraged by the last few games. It's too early to say it's all coming together for the Phils, but nights like Tuesday serve as a reminder why they are the favorites in the National League.

Photos by US Presswire, Dom Brown by AP.

Now with Big3, Rashard Lewis praises Sixers' signing of former teammate JJ Redick

Now with Big3, Rashard Lewis praises Sixers' signing of former teammate JJ Redick

How time flies.

JJ Redick first played with Rashard Lewis on the Magic in 2007, Redick’s second season in the NBA. Ten years later, the 33-year-old Redick has signed a massive one-year, $23 million contract to be one of the Sixers’ leaders. Lewis, 37, is currently competing in the BIG3 league. 

Both Redick and Lewis are in different places in their careers than when they were teammates. Lewis sees Redick excelling in this new chapter. 

“He’s the veteran player here, but when I played with him in Orlando he was a young fella,” Lewis said. “He’s learned a lot playing with Orlando as well as the Clippers. I’m sure he’ll share a lot of his knowledge with these guys because they’ve got a very young team.”

Redick’s NBA insight came from doing a lot of observing early on. He didn’t start off as a main offensive option. Instead, he was a student of the game in his early days with the Magic while Lewis was one of the go-to players. 

Redick only averaged 6.0 points as a rookie and 4.1 points in 8.1 minutes per game during his second season. He clocked a total of 10 minutes during a 2008 postseason in which the Magic reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The following season in 2009, though, Redick averaged over 20 minutes per game in their NBA Finals run. The Magic also made it to the Eastern Conference Finals the next year.

“The chemistry we had was great,” Lewis said. “I think he’s going to bring that here to Philly.”

Over time, Redick developed into one of the best long-range threats in the league. He holds a 41.5 percent career three-point shooting percentage, sixth among all active players. The Sixers have been in need of go-to scorers, especially from beyond the arc. 

“He’s going to help this team,” Lewis said. “He’s going to open it up because he’s a shooter.”

The Sixers are entering an important phase this coming season. They finally have a foundation in place and a core to build upon for years down the road, not just the time being. The younger players will benefit from listening to Redick during practices, games, team flights, and all the other scenarios in which they can soak up his experiences. That could include the playoffs, too, in the suddenly wide-open Eastern Conference. 

“The way he played the game, he’s not only a good shooter but he’s a smart player,” Lewis said. “He has a high basketball IQ. That’s why he’s still playing in the league. A lot of teams have a lot of respect for him.”

Jordan Spieth avoids another major meltdown to win British Open

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AP Images

Jordan Spieth avoids another major meltdown to win British Open

SOUTHPORT, England -- Jordan Spieth is the British Open champion, just like expected, though not like anyone could have imagined.

On the verge of another meltdown in a major, so wild off the tee that he played one shot from the driving range at Royal Birkdale and lost the lead for the first time all weekend, Spieth bounced back with a collection of clutch shots, delivering a rally that ranks among the best.

A near ace. A 50-foot eagle putt. A 30-foot birdie putt.

Spieth played the final five holes in 5 under and closed with a 1-under 69 for a three-shot victory over Matt Kuchar, giving him the third leg of the career Grand Slam and a chance to be the youngest to win them all next month at the PGA Championship.

Spieth joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three different majors at age 23, and even the Golden Bear was impressed.

"Is Jordan Spieth something else?" Nicklaus tweeted during a wild back nine.

Spieth missed four putts inside 8 feet on the front nine and lost his three-shot lead. Then, he looked certain to lose the British Open -- and the reputation he craves as a reliable closer -- when his tee shot on the par-4 13th was some 75 yards right of the fairway, buried in grass on a dune so steep he could barely stand up.

He took a penalty shot for an unplayable lie, and when he realized the practice range was in play, headed back on a line so far that he was behind the equipment trucks. He still had a blind shot with a 3-iron over the dunes to a fairway littered with pot bunkers, stopping just short of one of them near the green.

Kuchar, who had to wait 20 minutes for Spieth to get his situation sorted, missed his 15-foot birdie putt. Spieth pitched over the bunker to 7 feet and made the putt to escape with bogey, falling behind for the first time.

And that's when the show began.

Spieth hit a 6-iron that plopped down in front of the pin at the par-3 14th and came within inches of a hole-in-one. He rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt and tied Kuchar. Given new life, he holed a 50-foot eagle putt and turned to caddie Michael Greller and said, "Go get that!"

Emotions rolling, Spieth followed with a 30-foot birdie at the 16th and was ahead by two. And after Kuchar holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th, Spieth assured himself a two-shot margin up the final hole by pouring in yet another birdie.

From the driving range to the claret jug, Spieth put himself in hallowed territory just days before his 24th birthday. Nicklaus was about six months younger than Spieth when he won the 1963 PGA Championship for the third leg of the Grand Slam.

Spieth goes to Quail Hollow in North Carolina next month with a chance to get that final portion of the Grand Slam.

Kuchar closed with a 69 and did nothing wrong. He just had no answers for Spieth's final blitz. Kuchar had a one-shot lead leaving the 13th green. He played the next four holes with two pars and two birdies and was two shots behind.

Li Haotong of China shot a 63 and finished third.