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

Derek Barnett's college position coach: He can flip switch to 'monster'

Derek Barnett's college position coach: He can flip switch to 'monster'

For family days at the University of Tennessee, former defensive line coach Steve Stripling's wife Gayle would make cookies for the crowd. And every time she did, it didn't go unnoticed by the Vols' best player. 

Every time, without fail, Derek Barnett would make a point to seek her out and say, "Hey Mrs. Strip, thank you for the cookies." 

It's a small thing, thanking someone for cookies. But it's something that seems to exemplify the type of players the Eagles are focused on bringing into the organization, especially with new VP of player personnel Joe Douglas leading the draft charge. And it was the one of the stories that stuck out most to Steve Stripling on Friday morning, 12 hours after the pick was made. 

"He's got that in him," Stripling said to CSNPhilly.com on Friday morning, just before boarding a flight from Philadelphia back to Tennessee, "and then on the football field, I've seen him just be a monster. 

"He has that ability to be quiet, unassuming, polite, respectful, all that, and then on the football field, he's a warrior. When he walks on the football field, he's different, totally different." 

Barnett, 20, is a pretty quiet and reserved guy. Some fans thought he didn't look pleased to be picked by the Eagles with the 14th pick on Thursday night, but that's not true. That's just his demeanor — off the field. 

On the field, Barnett is a relentless technician with an exceptional motor that powered him to 33 sacks at Tennessee, breaking Reggie White's long-standing record. 

"If you get to know him, he doesn't say much," Stripling said. "He's very quiet, but on the football field, when he says something, everyone pays attention. He just has that built into him, to play hard and he's a grinder and focused and all those things."

Stripling joined the Volunteers' coaching staff as an associate head coach and defensive line coach for the 2013 season. That was the year spent recruiting Barnett out of Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee. After Barnett's 2016 season, Stripling, 63, took a job as the director of football program development, but he was Barnett's position coach for all three years of his college stay. 

And from the time Barnett arrived on the Tennessee campus in 2014, it didn't take long for the coaching staff to realize something was special about him. 

Stripling recalls a play that the coaching staff has shown "a thousand times" since it happened back in 2014. During the first or second day of Volunteers' two-a-day camp, Barnett, then a freshman, showed that relentless style for which he's now become known. Barnett lined up as the team's right end as the ball broke to the left and the carrier jetted down field. From out of nowhere, Barnett chased him 40 yards downfield and delivered a sideline hit. 

Before that play, Tennessee knew Barnett was good. After that play, it knew he was special. 

"Usually when a freshman gets to camp, they're just trying to fit in, learn their way," Stripling said. "But it was from Day 1." 

The Tennessee defensive line room tried to live by an acronym: EAT — effort, accountability and technique. Barnett represented all of those facets. 

But perhaps more than anything, the technique part of his game is what really stands out. The use of his hands and his ability to bend as a pass rusher are the traits that vaulted him into the top half of the first round. 

And Barnett credits "Coach Strip" for a lot of it. 

"I’ll you what, he was hard on me," Barnett wrote about Stripling in the Players' Tribune. "From the very first day I arrived on campus, he was on me to refine whatever physical talents I had so that I could become a well-rounded football player."

In addition to working with Tennessee coaches, Barnett has also spent time in the offseason working with former NFL defensive lineman and pass-rush guru Chuck Smith. 

Barnett (6-3, 259 pounds) didn't perform well at the 2017 combine in Indianapolis. Even though he was dealing with the flu, he wanted to show more. But on Thursday night, that lackluster performance didn't seem to bother Douglas, who raved about his technique and even dropped some scouty lingo with the phrase "ankle flexion." 

Stripling, meanwhile, compared Barnett's bend as a pass rusher to former Colts great Dwight Freeney. 

"I think that's athletic ability to me, even though it's not a 40-yard time," Stripling said. "It's the ability to get low, reduce the surface and turn the corner. And I think that's one of his strong suites."

And then there's something Barnett has that simply can't be coached: instincts. Barnett, according to Stripling, has the unique ability to leave his gap responsibility at exactly the right time, when necessary to make a play: 

"I would say, 'Derek, how did you know the ball was going there?' He'd say, 'I just knew it.'"

For Stripling, Thursday night at the Ben Franklin Parkway was quite a thrill. A college coach since 1977, this was the first NFL draft he had ever attended. Hours after the Eagles used their 14th pick to take Barnett and hours after the hoopla surrounding the event had faded, Stripling sat up late with Barnett, his mother Christine and the rest of the family, reminiscing and reflecting. 

A little earlier in the night, when Barnett's name was called, Stripling happened to be seated near a group of inquisitive Eagles fans. 

"They were saying, 'who is this guy?'" Stripling recalled. "And I said, 'you're going to love this guy. He's going to work hard, he's going to be tough, he's going to make plays, you're going to love him.' I'm excited for him, it's going to be a good fit."

Record-breaking crowds flood the Parkway for NFL Draft Experience in Philly

Record-breaking crowds flood the Parkway for NFL Draft Experience in Philly

Who needs to the Pope when you have Ginger Jesus?

The NFL Draft Experience joined a long list of wildly popular events in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and all along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

The NFL announced today that nearly 100,000 fans enjoyed the experience, the most-ever for a draft-related event, on day 1 of the draft alone.

Fans flooded into the Experience with people from all across the country in town to support their respective teams. Eagles fans clearly dominated the crowd, however, as you couldn't go a few minutes without hearing an E-A-G-L-E-S chant. 

ESPN also showed some love all night long. SportsCenter's Scott Van Pelt called the story of the night in Philadelphia the city of Philly itself. Adam Schefter called it the "wildest, most raucous crowd in draft history." Jon Gruden called Philly "one of the greatest football towns on the planet."

Aside from not being totally in love with their first pick Derek Barnett upon first blush, Philly fans showed off wonderfully. Even the booing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came off as cute.

The Draft Experience is open again on Friday from noon until 11:00 pm and on Saturday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. It's free for all fans.

Try the games, avoid the cheesesteaks. And bring some sunscreen (ugh).