On the Offensive: Ruiz, Mayberry Power Phils

On the Offensive: Ruiz, Mayberry Power Phils

It seems maybe, just maybe, if the Phils have this bullpen thing worked out like they did on Friday night -- two shutout innings from Antonio Bastardo and one from Chad Qualls -- the Fightins might be finding their groove at the plate. Keyed by three-RBI nights from Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry, the Phillies bounced back from an ugly sweep against the Mets with a 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Vance Worley picked up his third win of the season, allowing three earned over six while striking out nine, but the story is the offense gaining an early lead and never letting up. Ruiz was 3-for-3 and Mayberry was 2-for-4, both taking Padres starter Clayton Richard deep once, as the Phils scored runs in four out of eight possible innings.

The offensive resurgence has been lost in the shuffle a bit as the club has struggled to stay above .500 while battling a litany of other issues, but it is real. Through the first 16 games of the season, the Phillies averaged 2.7 runs per game. Over the last 17, they're rocking 5.1. Even if you throw out the 15-13 slugfest against the Braves, the Phils have still averaged 4.6 RPG over the latter half of baseball.

Mayberry has become a big part of the reason why. He's now 8-for-26 (.308) during the month of May, bumping his average for the season up to .240. It's reassuring to see him hit for some power too, as last night's bomb was his first of the year.

Placido Polanco was also 2-for-4 in the victory, and is now batting .283 after a horrid start to his campaign that saw him hitting below the Mendoza line as late as April 24. He's had multiple hits in seven of the last 13 starts.

And Ruiz just continues to roll. Chooch is now the clubhouse leader or ranked second in most offensive categories. Last night's long ball was his sixth of the season -- his career high is nine -- to go with 15 runs and 22 RBIs in 2012.

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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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.