Papelbon's Second Blown Save Hurts More Than His First, Nats Rally to Avoid Phils Sweep

Papelbon's Second Blown Save Hurts More Than His First, Nats Rally to Avoid Phils Sweep

Jonathan Papelbon probably wasn't going to go the whole season without blowing a save, and we were lucky that his first failed conversion of the year--two nights ago, against this same Nats team--was redeemed by a bottom-of-the-ninth Phils rally, capped by a Domonic Brown RBI single to drive home Ben Revere. However, blown saves result in heartbreak more often than not, and tonight, the Philly offense failed to bail out their closer, when a Jayson Werth RBI single off Pap in the 9th tied things up at 2-2, and Ian Desmond broke things wide open with a grand slam in the 11th. Final score: Nats 6, Phils 2.

Remarkably, not only did the Phils have a chance to win this one in the bottom of the ninth again, but it was almost the exact same scenario as it was two nights ago. Not only did the Phils have two on with two out, they had Dom Brown up at the plate again with the chance to let Pap off the hook and send the Philly Phaithful home happy. He even squibbed a soft liner up the middle that looked like it had a chance of depositing in shallow center, as his winner on Monday did. But this time, the ball died gently in the shortstop Desmond's glove, and the Phils never again got a real chance.

Tonight was not the Domonator's night in general. For the second straight night, he went 0-4 with multiple strikeouts--in fact, the aforementioned soft liner in the 9th was his only time even putting the ball in play. Add in some sluggish defense out in left, and Dom is officially in a bad way at the moment, now having gone ten straight games without an extra base hit--this, of course, immediately following a stretch where he homered ten times in 13 games. In a way, this is a relief, because we knew we were gonna get some serious regression to the mean with DomBro sooner or later, but man, it's almost getting to the point where he's as cold now as he was hot previously. (Almost.)

That said, there's plenty of blame to go around in the Phils' lineup tonight, which after a two-run Michael Young homer in the first, went the next 33 outs without bringing a single man across the plate, racking up just two additional hits in the process. The weak offensive effort wasted a stellar pitching outing from Kyle Kendrick, who had one of his best outings of the season against the struggling Washington offense, going 7 2/3rds with six strikeouts, letting up just two hits, a walk and a run in between his 23 outs. Still, he got to hand the ball over to Jonathan Paplebon with the lead, and up until this series, that'd been good enough for the Phils this year. Sigh.

At least the end of the series means no more Jayson Werth for a while. Werth ends the series 4-12 with a homer and four RBIs, as well as a big walk in the 11th inning tonight, all continuing the time-honored tradition of ex-Phils excelling upon their return visits to Philadelphia. The Nats also leave town having reclaimed the runner-up spot in the NL East, Philly falling back to three games under .500 and eight behind the victorious Braves.

Day off tomorrow, then three against the Mets. The really sad thing about the Phils sub-.500 record is how many crap teams they've played over their first 70+ games, and how even with a sweep of the again-lowly Mets, we'll still be a definitively mediocre team with the real meat of the schedule still yet to come. Hopefully a couple more healthy regulars will help with compensate for that--Chooch got a hit tonight, while Chase began his rehab stint in Reading--but man, getting Dom swinging the bat again (and actually hitting the ball while doing so, preferably far) would be pretty nice as well. Otherweise, getting to .500 might be as good as it gets with this team.

Kulp’s one-and-only Eagles 2017 seven-round NFL mock draft

Kulp’s one-and-only Eagles 2017 seven-round NFL mock draft

This Eagles mock draft -- like every mock draft -- is inaccurate and strictly for entertainment purposes only.

For the past 24 hours, I debated releasing a mock draft altogether, even though I had been working on one for several days. It’s a senseless exercise to begin with, as the odds of being right about any of these choices is slim. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the probability is lower than ever.

We’re just hours away from the draft, and we’re still not sure who’s going to the Cleveland Browns with the first-overall pick. There’s also little consensus on how to rank the prospects beyond Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, and by the time the Eagles are on the clock at No. 14, it’s anybody’s guess where these players will go.

Adding to the mystery are a collection of potential top-15 talents who are next to impossible to rank due to character concerns or injuries. Ohio State’s Gareon Conley, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Alabama’s Reuben Foster, Washington’s Sidney Jones or Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon all could’ve been options for the Eagles at 14 in alternate universe, and two or three still are -- now, who knows?

Those could be some of the options, as are Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Central Florida’s Corey Davis, Alabama’s O.J. Howard, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, Washington’s John Ross and LSU’s Tra’Davious White, to name a few. Frankly, we don’t even know when the run on quarterbacks will begin, which could drastically alter how the board looks when it’s the Eagles’ turn.

Even as we get into the later rounds, where there seems to be a tad more consensus in the rankings, there are some 300-plus prospect to choose from altogether. The Eagles currently have eight picks, which gives me roughly a 2.5 percent chance of nailing just one, presuming they don’t trade some away.

So long story short, don’t expect me to get this right. I certainly don’t, and anybody who tells who differently is kidding themselves -- this year more than most.

 

14. Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

White isn’t necessarily graded as the best player or even cornerback available at this point, but that might be an oversight. Not many defensive prospects come along with four years starting experience at an SEC program, plus return punts, too. Don’t take my word for it, though. This is Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas talking about White at the Senior Bowl, via Turron Davenport for USA Today.

“He’s a leader. He’s been ultra-productive. He’s tough as nails. He plays nickel, he plays outside, he has ball skills. You can stack his level of production up against any corner in this draft.”

http://theeagleswire.usatoday.com/2017/01/27/joe-douglas-raves-about-lsu-cb-tredavious-white/

There is a chance the Eagles could land White or a similarly graded corner in round two, but I don’t think he lasts that long or they find a better fit. This fills a need, does so with somebody the Eagles are comfortable with, and a case could be made White is the best defensive player available here, rankings be damned. There’s probably 10 different directions they could go here -- including a trade down -- but either way, this choice makes a lot of sense.

 

43. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

No, I’m not willing to bet $500 on it, but I do buy into the buzz that Foster is sliding as the draft approaches. He may be a top-10 talent on the football field and hands down the best linebacker in the draft, but there is a host of other issues teams should be worried about.

That being said, the Eagles recently sent somebody to Tuscaloosa to see Foster, so their interest seems legitimate. The Baltimore Ravens had a history of drafting linebackers and Alabama products while Douglas was a member of the front office as well. Every year, at least one prospect falls much farther than expected. If Foster somehow lasts this long, he’ll be well worth the risk for the Eagles.

 

99. Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo

Hunt rushed for 4,945 yards -- 25th in FBS history -- and 44 touchdowns in four seasons for the Rockets, but it was the strides he made as a receiver out of the backfield his senior year that should make him attractive to the Eagles. With 41 receptions for 403 yards and a touchdown in 2016, Hunt showed the kind of dual-threat ability vital to coach Doug Pederson’s west coast offense.

 

118. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic

Hendrickson recorded 30.0 tackles for loss and 23.0 sacks over his junior and senior seasons. No, it wasn’t again top competition, but timed at 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he has the speed defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is looking for off the edge.

 

138. Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia

Gibson was supposed to run one of the fastest 40-yard dashes at the NFL Scouting Combine. Instead, the clock started fast, and he was timed at 4.5 seconds. That may cause him to drop a round or two in the draft, but the stats tell a different tale. Gibson averaged 22.6 yards per reception in three seasons at WVU and can flat out fly. He returns kickoffs, too.

 

155. Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State

Undersized at 5-foot-10 and not the greatest athlete, Kazee makes up for it with tremendous instinct and a nose for the football. Recorded 15 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles over his junior and senior seasons, while being aggressively natured in run support, too, racking up 8.5 tackles for loss. He’ll compete, which Schwartz loves in a corner.

 

194. Connor Harris, LB, Lindenwood

The NCAA All-Division record holder with 633 tackles, Harris is short at 5-foot-11 and not especially explosive, he simply knows how to play football. Had an offer from an FBS school and likely would have excelled, but was already committed to Lindenwood. Has the potential to become an outstanding special-teams contributor.

 

230. Nate Hairston, CB, Temple

Hairston is an extremely raw prospect who is nowhere near ready to play cornerback in the NFL, but the Eagles could stash him on the practice squad for a year or two while he learns. He’s a local prospect, so what the hell, throw him on here. If I got one of these right, I’ll be popping open the champagne on Saturday night.

Ex-Penn State officials to be sentenced in June over Sandusky

apjerrysandusky.jpg
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Ex-Penn State officials to be sentenced in June over Sandusky

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Sentencing has been scheduled for three former top officials at Penn State University who were convicted of child endangerment in the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal.

Former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley will be sentenced June 2 in Harrisburg.

Curley and Schultz pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment. Spanier went to trial and was convicted in March. His lawyer said he will appeal.

The convictions stem from their handling of a 2001 complaint about Sandusky apparently molesting a boy in a school shower.

The administrators didn't report the encounter involving the ex-assistant football coach to police or child-welfare authorities.

Sandusky was arrested a decade later. He is serving up to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys but is appealing.