Garon and Lightning Send Bryzgalov Back to Woods

Garon and Lightning Send Bryzgalov Back to Woods

The look on Ilya Bryzgalov's face in his post-game chat with the beats just about said it all. Wide-eyed, staring, stunned. What the stare failed to express, the Russian netminder made clear, even dropping the ol' audible F-bomb live on air for all to hear.

Bryzgalov and the Flyers ceded five goals on just 16 credited Tampa Bay Lightning shots. Mathieu Garon, who has taken over as Tampa's starter, looked shaky to start the game, but weathered an early Flyers barrage and seemed increasingly sharp as the game moved on. There was a fun highlight reel goal and a huge win in a fight, but an overall poor effort in the second period cooked the Flyers.

A closer look at the game and some unanswered questions about Bryzgalov and the overall defensive struggles, below. Plus, Bryz's postgame comments, which will likely make the next 24/7 ep.

In their last trip to Tampa, the Flyers had trouble getting shots on goal much less in it. Tonight, they had 17 shots in the first period alone while limiting the Lightning to just four. However, Bruno Gervais scored on the second of them, nearly 10 minutes into the period. A soft shot off the face-off appeared to change direction off of Brayden Schenn's stick, falling through a hole that probably should have been a little tighter on Bryz's part.

Scott Hartnell's goal off another brilliant creation by Claude Giroux knotted it at one-apiece, and the Flyers appeared to have the edge. Unfortunately, they apparently left it in the locker room, unable to get anything going in the second. Steven Stamkos' 21st and 22nd goals bookended a vomitous Steve Downie contribution, and the Flyers managed all of THREE shots on goal over the middle 20 minutes (see shots note below though).

The game got increasingly rough over the course of the second, with both sides testing the refs. Hartnell goaded an entire bench of blue-clad Lightning players, trading some stickwork with them, even causing Ryan Malone to jump the boards to try to get after him (unsuccessful) and Downie to swing a stick at him. That and a sound beating of Eric Brewer by Wayne Simmonds weren't able to tip the scales in the Flyers' favor, and Tampa held control the rest of the way.

What's Up in Net?
The answers aren't easy as to what's causing the Flyers' lapses in their own end. They're having trouble clearing out traffic, even allowing the obvious threats like Stamkos far too much space. Screens, deflections, and bad bounces also have played a huge role, with each contributing to Downie's goal. However, Bryzgalov looked slow reacting and going post to post, which was even more apparent with Garon stopping second efforts repeatedly. Bryz looked like he knew he had no shot at stopping the second period goals; even if that's the case, it's not something that should show up in the body language before the puck crosses the line.

If his head isn't right, his body's not in the right position.

On the one hand, you hope his luck off bad bounces improves and brings his save percentage up with it. But his confidence appeared shaky on the ice, and his frustrations were apparent when he fielded questions afterward. Like, letters-to-the-network apparent (see video below, which has a bleep the live feed did not). Lavvy has a tough decision to make heading into Thursday night's game in Pittsburgh—the last before the Flyers play in the highest profile event on the hockey calendar.

Notes
The shots on goal totals are a little misleading in this one, as is often the case. Tampa was successful in blocking quite a few (22) while plenty missed the net (19). At the other end, the Lightning had as many shots not reach the net as they put on goal (seven blocked, nine missing the net).

No matter how you slice it up though, the Flyers took a ton more shots than the Lightning (73 vs 32), and had some very strong opportunities, but couldn't beat Garon more than once.

At times, the Flyers looked like they were on the power play despite being at even strength. On the power play, they had trouble getting shots through to the net.

Malone and Hartnell each got a 10-min misconduct for the incident by the TB bench in the second, but the league could give its old buddy Steve Downie a call for the slash he sent Hartnell's way from over the boards.

Giroux's assist moved him to 44 points on the season, 17 goals and 37 helpers. He's two points ahead of Evgeni Malkin.

This brutal road month can't end soon enough. Carrying a great overall away record, the Flyers appear road-weary at this point, losing back-to-back away from home for the first time all season. Hopefully they don't make it three in a row on Thursday.

Bryzgalov Postgame

Quote of the Night
"Out-staaannnding."
    —Ilya Bryzgalov, frustrated, sarcastically, on his performance.

Game Highlights

Pete Mackanin unloads on Phillies' bullpen after latest collapse

Pete Mackanin unloads on Phillies' bullpen after latest collapse

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies’ bullpen continued its ugly, late-season collapse on Tuesday night. It was tagged for six runs in a 7-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves rallied for the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the eighth inning (see Instant Replay).
 
The loss came two days after the bullpen gave up 14 earned runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday and it left manager Pete Mackanin more than a little bit frustrated.
 
“The bullpen has just not been doing the job,” Mackanin said.
 
Jerad Eickhoff gave up just one run (on a solo homer by Freddie Freeman) over four walk-free innings to open the game. He was up 6-1 after four innings when the rains came and stopped the game for an hour and 53 minutes.
 
With Eickhoff bounced by the weather, Mackanin had to go to his bullpen. He used four relievers — Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez and David Hernandez — and all gave up runs.
 
Phillies relievers have pitched 77 1/3 innings this month and allowed 69 earned runs for an ERA of 8.03. So that’s one more thing Matt Klentak has to fix this winter, along with the offense that Mackanin wants to see addressed (see story).
 
Ultimately, Hernandez took the loss when he gave up three hits and a run in the bottom of the eighth. The other run in the inning was charged to Rodriguez.
 
As unbelievable as it may sound with rosters being expanded in September, the Phillies played this game shorthanded.
 
They did not have reliever Edubray Ramos. He had a sore elbow, Mackanin said.
 
They did not have outfielder Peter Bourjos, who had gone home to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
 
They also did not have outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who is out with a concussion.
 
Not having Bourjos or Goeddel forced Mackanin to use Darin Ruf in left field after Roman Quinn went out with an oblique injury in the sixth inning. Ruf failed to make a catch on a long fly ball by Tyler Flowers to the gap in left-center. The non-play extended the eighth inning and fueled the Braves’ comeback.
 
“It should have been caught,” Mackanin said. “If Quinn's out there, he catches it. He wasn't out there.”
 
Hernandez was the only free agent that the Phillies signed to a major-league contract this winter. The Phillies signed him with an eye toward using him as the closer. But Hernandez struggled much of the season and slipped into the middle innings while Ramos, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez rose to high-leverage roles.
 
Gomez lost the closer’s job last week and Mackanin was saving Neris to close out this game. That meant Hernandez had to pitch the eighth. He couldn’t protect the lead. He gave up the game-tying hit to Mallex Smith and the go-ahead hit to Emilio Bonafacio.
 
“Neris was going to close for us,” Mackanin said. “I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That's unheard of.”
 
The bullpen’s unraveling threw cold (rain) water on Eickhoff’s solid start and Ryan Howard’s big night. Howard belted his 24th homer, a grand slam in the first inning, to highlight a 14-hit attack and help the Phils jump to a 6-0 lead.
 
“Eickhoff looked like he was having one of his best games and then the rain came. So that was our first disappointment,” Mackanin said. "Other than that, Howie swung the bat great. Hit that grand slam. We got 14 hits, but we stranded 12 runners. We have to keep adding on.”
 
Quinn had three of the Phillies’ 14 hits then added to his collection of injuries with the oblique strain that bounced him from the game in the sixth. He hurt himself taking a swing.
 
Oblique injuries generally keep a player sidelined for at least three weeks, so Quinn’s season is likely over. He missed six weeks with a similar injury at Double A Reading this summer. The 23-year-old outfielder came up from the minors on Sept. 11 and has been auditioning for a spot on next season’s opening day roster.
 
“It looks like it,” Mackanin said when asked if Quinn was done for what remains of the season.
 
Injuries have been a consistent hurdle for Quinn ever since he was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. He has missed significant time with a ruptured Achilles tendon, a wrist injury that required surgery, a torn quad muscle and an oblique strain. Now he has another one.
 
“It’s the same one I hurt before,” Quinn said. “It’s frustrating.”
 
Right now, just about everything is frustrating with this team. Good thing there are only five games left.

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Best of MLB: Blue Jays beat Orioles in opener of AL wild-card showdown

Best of MLB: Blue Jays beat Orioles in opener of AL wild-card showdown

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer, Aaron Sanchez struck out 10 and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on Tuesday night in the opener of their AL wild-card showdown.

Ezequiel Carrera also homered as the Blue Jays won for the sixth time in eight games. They lead the wild-card standings by two games over the Orioles with five to play.

Baltimore began the day two games ahead of Detroit and Seattle for the league's final playoff spot.

Orioles slugger Chris Davis was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Will Little after striking out against Joe Biagini in the seventh, the third time in three at-bats Davis was caught looking. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter also was tossed after he came out to argue (see full recap).

Syndergaard, Mets pound grieving Marlins
MIAMI -- With time running out in the playoff race, the New York Mets set sympathy aside.

Noah Syndergaard struck out eight and allowed one run in six innings Tuesday night, and the Mets totaled 19 hits to beat the grieving Miami Marlins 12-1.

Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes each hit his 31st homer for the Mets, who began the game with a half-game lead over the Giants in the battle for the first NL wild-card berth, with the Cardinals 1 1/2 games behind.

The game was the Marlins' second since the death of ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident. One night after a heart-tugging victory over New York filled with tributes to their teammate, emotions were more subdued, and Miami's bats were too.

Syndergaard (14-9) had a lot to do with that. After missing a scheduled start Saturday with strep throat, he threw 93 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.60, third-best in the majors. He'll return to pitch the regular-season finale Sunday at Philadelphia if needed (see full recap).

Cards beat Reds to tighten wild-card race
ST. LOUIS -- Playing with a heavy heart, Aledmys Diaz hit his first career grand slam and the St. Louis Cardinals finished with five home runs Tuesday night in a 12-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Chasing the Giants and Mets in a tight race for the two NL wild cards, St. Louis moved within a half-game of San Francisco for the league's final playoff spot -- pending the Giants' late game against Colorado.

New York, which beat Miami 12-1, leads the wild-card standings and remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals.

Jhonny Peralta had a three-run homer and drove in four runs for the Cardinals, who had lost four of five. Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Matt Adams also homered (see full recap).