Flyers Take New-Look D on 10-Day Road Trip

Flyers Take New-Look D on 10-Day Road Trip

With the Flyers
struggles at home this season, a week and a half on planes and in hotel
rooms seems to be more welcome than usual. They'll make four stops,
starting tonight in Winnipeg, then moving on to Edmonton for a Thursday
night game, Calgary on Saturday night, and wrapping up in San Jose a
week from tonight.

It's a good time for a bonding experience, with two new faces added
to the mix. Of course, with the deadline coming while the team is on the
road, we may have seen a current Flyer or two for the last time. A
quick look at the new-look, below.

Although at least one beat writer opined that the Flyers might be
better off as sellers this trading season, it appears as if they
disagree. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as it's exceedingly
rare to see the Flyers play the seller's role in February. Frank
Seravalli made his point well—the Flyers haven't looked like a true contender
for some time, clearly a notch below the likes of the Rangers and Red
Wings. But there's still time for that to change, one way or another,
and the front office appears committed to keeping the throttle open.

The names Nicklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina may not scream "Cup
contender," but the nature of the acquisitions shows the team's thinking
fairly clearly. Gone are the two rookie faces getting regular ice time
on the Flyers blue line, replaced by a pair of veterans with differing
skill sets. Although both are fairly large in stature, Grossman is a
stay-at-home defender who contributes on the PK. Kubina is more of a
puck-mover, and also adds a righthanded shot at the point on the power
play and at even strength. Timmy P has more on what Kubina brings to the
table here
. While he's not necessarily being compared to Eric
Desjardins in terms of current skill, it's nice to hear Rico invoked,
and it'll be even better when a RH one-timer catches twine. Now 34,
Kubina's numbers on the season aren't jaw-dropping. But, a move to a
more aggressive offensive system could result in some more goal scoring,
something the Flyers could use from their blue line.

Two other things of note with these acquisitions and what they
(presumably) mean about the Flyers short- and long-term planning. First,
that two mid-level defenseman were targeted and acquired without giving
up an NHL-rostered player likely indicates that they're unlikely to be
straight-up selling anything this week, unless it's something they think
they can win without.

Second, neither Grossman, 27, nor Kubina, 34, is under contract for
next season. Both could prove to be mere rentals, which would certainly
indicate the Flyers' goals for the season, though Kubina has already
said he'd like to sign an extension here. Neither player is set to command the high end of the defense market spending, so if the Flyers want to hang onto one (or possibly both) of them, they can probably do so before free agency opens.

Aside from trying to read the tea leaves on what the Flyers will
attempt between now and the deadline or with contract negotiations, the road trip will give us all a
look at whether the two new defenders will have the desired calming
effect in the defensive zone. Suter and Weber they are not, but in all
likelihood, they are an upgrade from combinations including Marc-Andre
Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson—though that isn't a slight on the latter two
players—as well as Andreas Lilja.

Tonight, the Flyers will try to reverse their fortunes against a
Winnipeg Jets team that has had their number so far this season, winning
the first three meetings. The Jets have won three straight and five of
their last seven, situating them right on the playoff bubble. Blake
Wheeler is on fire, scoring a goal and assisting on another in the Jets'
4-2 win over the Bruins on Friday, then collecting four assists in a
5-1 win over the Avalanche on Monday. 

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez sets K's mark, helps Marlins snap Royals' win streak

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USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez sets K's mark, helps Marlins snap Royals' win streak

MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez pitched seven innings and appeared to avoid a serious injury when he tweaked his right leg on his final pitch Wednesday night, helping the Miami Marlins beat Kansas City 3-0 to snap the Royals' nine-game winning streak.

Fernandez (13-7) pulled up after striking out Christian Colon to end the seventh, and rubbed his right knee before limping to the dugout.

The Marlins pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the seventh, and no injury was announced. Fernandez was laughing with teammates in the dugout in the ninth inning and joined in the postgame celebration on the field.

His nine strikeouts increased his season total to 213, breaking the Marlins record of 209 set by Ryan Dempster in 2000. Fernandez ended a career-worst three-game losing streak.

He also had the Marlins' first two hits, hiking his average to .286, and improved to 27-2 at Marlins Park.

Fernando Rodney pitched around two singles and walk for his 25th save and eighth with Miami.

Dillon Gee (5-7) took the loss (see full recap).

Cardinals tag deGrom in win over Mets
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty homered off Mets starter Jacob deGrom, powering the St. Louis Cardinals past New York 8-1 Wednesday night.

Carpenter set the tone, hitting a leadoff home run in the first inning. The Cardinals went on to win for the seventh time in nine games.

Piscotty and Yadier Molina each had three of the Cardinals' season high-tying 19 hits.

Carlos Martinez (12-7) gave up one run and four hits over eight innings. He also got two hits himself.

Roughed up for the second straight start, deGrom (7-7) allowed five runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He was tagged for a career-worst eight runs and 13 hits in his previous outing against San Francisco (see full recap).

Rays overcome Ortiz's 30th HR in comeback win
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Ortiz hit his 30th home run in the first inning, but the Tampa Bay Rays came back from a three-run deficit to beat Boston 4-3 in 11 innings Wednesday night and prevent the Red Sox from taking sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Luke Maile doubled with two out in the 11th and scored after Red Sox pitcher Heath Hembree (4-1) dropped a throw to first base on Kevin Kiermaier's grounder.

Brad Boxberger (2-0) got the win after one inning of relief.

Boston has won 10 of its last 13 games and remained tied in first with Toronto after the Blue Jays lost 8-2 to the Angels.

Bidding to become the majors' first 18-game winner, Rick Porcello allowed Evan Longoria's tying homer in the eighth before leaving with 7 2/3 innings pitched. It was Longoria's 30th homer (see full recap).

SI gives Sixers 'A' grade for offseason moves

SI gives Sixers 'A' grade for offseason moves

After three straight years in or near the cellar of the NBA standings, the Sixers may be gearing to start moving up.

And people are taking notice.

The Sports Illustrated staff graded each NBA team's offseason moves and gave the Sixers a grade of A for their moves. And it was well-deserved.

Sixers fans haven't had much to celebrate in the past few years, but seeing the team draft Ben Simmons and watch his stunning passing ability in summer league was enough to get many fans excited about the upcoming season. The article noted the Simmons pick as the Sixers' best move, saying taking him over Brandon Ingram, who went No. 2 overall to the Lakers, showed they're ready to take the next step.

Jeremy Woo, one of the contributors to the article, went on to describe their other important moves this offseason:

With Joel Embiid presumably ready to return, Dario Saric coming over from Turkey and Simmons here to anchor the franchise, the future in Philadelphia is bright for the first time in years. Brett Brown can mix and match and the front office can decide which prospects to build around. Some of these guys are inevitably going to get traded, and some of them likely won’t pan out. But at least Philly is moving forward, finally.

Yes, finally.

The Sixers should have three first-round level talents making their NBA debuts this season with Simmons, Saric and Embiid, all of whom represent a separate and long wait. With Simmons, it took three years for the Sixers to finally get the first pick in the draft. With Embiid, it was waiting two full seasons for him to return from a foot injury. And with Saric, it was the agonizing wait for him to come over from Turkey after the back-and-forth reports over what he was ultimately going to decide.

The article makes note of the change in power from Sam Hinkie to the Colangelos, one that could've runied "The Process," but instead helped it continue to flourish. It also said the Sixers' worst move was that they didn't make any big gambles in free agency, whether by choice or because of lack of interest from the actual players. But this criticism is much nicer than what some of the other teams in their division received.

The Knicks received a D grade after signing injury-prone Joakim Noah and trading for Derrick Rose, both of whom have large salary cap hits for their recent production. The Nets received a C- for trying to go after too many restricted free agents and ending up with Jeremy Lin as their top acquisition, who is a good player, but isn't going to turn this subpar team around. And the Raptors got a C for essentially doing nothing other than re-signing DeMar Derozan and letting Bismack Biyombo walk in free agency.

But while the Sixers may have had a better offseason than any team in the division, this by no means suggests they'll move up in the standings too much in the immediate future. They still have to see how the new young talent meshes together and develops. But continued development has a chance to show why this offseason was such a success.

Instant Replay: Phillies 5, White Sox 3

Instant Replay: Phillies 5, White Sox 3

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The Phillies got a nice start from Jerad Eickhoff, mostly good bullpen work and plenty of timely hitting in posting a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox in interleague play Wednesday night.
 
The Phils had been outscored 18-1 in losing their previous two games to the White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.
 
The Phillies are 59-68. They are four wins shy of last year’s majors-low total of 63.
 
Starting pitching report
Eickhoff (9-12) pitched six innings of two-run ball and left with a 4-2 lead after throwing just 71 pitches. Eickhoff scattered four hits, walked nine and struck out two. The sixth inning has been a problem for him this season. He has allowed 26 earned runs over 19 innings for a 12.32 ERA in the frame. Eickhoff did hold it together and limited the damage to two runs in the sixth before handing off to the bullpen.
 
Eickhoff’s ERA in the first five innings of a game this season is 2.64.
 
White Sox right-hander James Shields gave up four runs over six innings. He is 5-16 with a 5.98 ERA.
 
Bullpen report
The trio of Edubray Ramos, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez closed it out for the Phillies.
 
Gomez survived a run in the ninth for his 34th save.
 
Ramos and Neris both pitched a scoreless inning.

Since the All-Star break, Neris has pitched 18 1/3 innings and allowed one run and two walks while striking out 26.
 
At the plate
Tommy Joseph had a nice game with a double, his 17th homer and two runs scored. Aaron Altherr had a pair of RBI singles and scored a run. Freddy Galvis doubled home a run and Cesar Hernandez homered.
 
Dioner Navarro smacked a two-run homer off Eickhoff in the sixth.
 
Trade talk
There’s interest in Carlos Ruiz (see story).
 
Up next
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series against the Mets in New York on Friday night. Here are the pitching matchups:
 
Friday night — LHP Adam Morgan (1-7, 6.21) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (11-7, 3.36)
 
Saturday night — RHP Jeremy Hellickson (10-7, 3.60) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (11-7, 2.61)
 
Sunday afternoon — RHP Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.31) vs. RHP Robert Gsellman (1-0, 0.00).