Keep On Swingin': Phils Ride Huge Eighth to 10-2 Win

Keep On Swingin': Phils Ride Huge Eighth to 10-2 Win

If you suffered through six innings of silence at the plate, I hope you stayed up for the final three. Both pitchers had their way most of the night, with Roy Halladay and Kyle McLellan combining to allow only one run through six innings. Doc left the game for a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh with the Phillies down by a run, and as much as it may have hurt to lift him, Charlie Manuel was rewarded with a clutch pinch hit by Ross Gload to tie the game.

After that, the Phils got real comfortable at Ryan's House. With a gracious parade of hosts coming out of the Cardinals' bullpen, the Phillies helped themselves to an nine-run eighth inning, powering their way to a 10-2 final. It was a pretty interesting ride, too... More on the Phils' big eighth, with illustrative pop culture subheads, after the jump.

Carlos Ruiz led the way all night, even when the rest of the bats were still asleep. Chooch finished up with a 4-4 showing, plus a walk that he'd later score on as part of the bloodletting that was the eighth inning.

After Gload singled in Raul Ibanez to tie the game in the sixth, with Chooch drawing attention on the base paths and preventing a throw to the plate (although ultimately ending the inning), Mike Stutes allowed a go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. Tony LaRussa also had success in hitting for his pitcher, with Mark Hamilton singling to move Daniel Descalso over to third, and Skip Schumaker knocking him in.

HOME INVASION
McLellan watched from the dugout as the eighth inning began with a 2-1 Cardinals lead. Then, like a man witnessing his house be robbed over a closed-circuit television, he watched as five different St. Louis relievers were assaulted for five hits, four walks, two HBPs, and NINE runs.

EVERYBODY HATES JASON
The second of the two Cardinals out of the pen was Jason Motte, who did his best John Lannan impression, hitting the only two batters he faced, Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco. The Howard HBP (which was not happy about) loaded the bases, and the Polly plunk tied the game at 2. It was a scary moment though, with the pitch hitting him in the hand. X-rays were said to be negative after the game, and Polanco said he thinks he can play on Wednesday night.

After Motte was sent, we hope, to hell, three other relievers came in, and none could stop what had been started. Ben Francisco singled in the go-ahead run, Chooch walked hard, plating Howard, followed by Michael Martinez also drawing an RBBI. Yes, in the same inning, the Cardinals bullpen allowed a back-to-back HBPs to load the bases and score a run, and back-to-back run-scoring walks. Implosion.

MERCY IS FOR THE WEAK
Jimmy Rollins then reminded us of the immortal words of John Kreese, singling in a pair of runs. After a Shane Victorino walk (at this point it was hard not to point and laugh at the Cardinals), Chase Utley poked a single through the gap into left, scoring another pair of runs. Howard joined the party again, singling in Victorino to bring the Phillies' total to double digits.

After Antonio Bastardo pitched a scoreless eighth, the Phils again threatened in the ninth… well, I should say, the Cards again threatened to allow more runs, with an error and a walk coming after Ruiz singled, but Maikel Cleto ultimately got out of the inning unscathed. David Herndon struck out two in the ninth on his way to a perfect frame to put us all to bed.

Overshadowed by the schadenfreudetastic comeback here was a fine start by Halladay, who oddly walked the leadoff man and the third hitter he faced, but struck out four in the first three innings and five total, then allowed only four hits in his six frames.

It wasn't the easiest night on either team's fans, with the Cards contingent watching a massacre in the eighth, and Phillies fans riding the roller coaster from "offensive ineptitude" to "ya just can't count this team out." Could be in for an interest couple of games to finish out the series.

Photo by Scott Rovak, US Presswire

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 — the last time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a gigantic one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.