Pence Protects, Howard Bashes In Phillies 7-4 Win

Pence Protects, Howard Bashes In Phillies 7-4 Win

Hunter Pence was greeted to a standing ovation as he ran out to right field, acknowledging his new fans on a warm Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. The fans weren't necessarily cheering Pence's performance on the night, at least not initially, as the newest Phillie went 1-5 in his debut in red pinstripes. They were just happy to have the All-Star outfielder on the club to help get them that typically elusive late October parade down Broad Street.

Pence eventually gave the fans a real reason to cheer him after starting the night 0-4 at the dish. (To his defense, he was robbed of a single in the second inning when he showed off his hustle and legged out a shoulda-been infield single. First base ump Angel Hernandez called him out despite Pence clearly beating the throw. Charlie Manuel defended his new guy and gave fans a chance to get their "Char-lie! Char-lie!" chants on as he argued.)

He had a chance to turn his night at the plate around late in a close game and didn't disappoint. Ryan Howard's new five hole protection delivered big in the eighth inning.

Clint Hurdle and the Pirates opted to intentionally walk the Big Piece after Shane led off the inning with a triple and Utley pulled a failed squeeze attempt.

That brought up Pence with a chance to do some real damage. He ripped a single up the middle, earning his first RBI as a Phillie and putting them up 7-4.

But the Phillies didn't really need a big contribution from the new guy, at least not tonight, as Ryan Howard, Chooch, and Jimmy Rollins were swinging hot bats while Cliff Lee lasted 7.2 innings.

Lee pitched well for most of the evening before getting into some trouble in the eighth. He allowed 4 runs on 8 hits while striking out 11 through his 7.2 innings of work. Antonio Bastardo came in to get the final out in the eight and did so by striking out Pedro Alvarez swinging.

Phife Dog also ripped a pair of hits on the night, and accounted for one of the Phillies runs when he scored on an Utley single to put the Phils up 4-2 in the fourth. Later in on in the seventh, Cliff almost legged out an infield single on a close play on a routine ball to short. Gotta respect this guy's hustle.

Ryan Madson did his thing in the ninth, striking out the side in a 1-2-3 inning to earn his 18th save of the season.

Ryan Howard Cycle Watch

The Big Piece was swinging an extremely hot bat on Saturday, finishing the evening 4-4 with an IBB and 3 RBIs. He also blasted a long solo shot deep into the ivy in center. Howard later bashed a ball to the warning track in left center, right in front of the wall Utley bounced an inside the parker off just the other day, and Andrew McCutchen got his glove onto the ball, but couldn't hold on. Needing only a triple at the time to complete the cycle, Ryan Howard was in all out sprint mode as he approached second. He eventually realized it was not meant to be and pulled up, content with the double.

Not a bad overall night at CBP. Pence makes his debut to warm ovations and the Phils bats do plenty to give Cliff Lee a victory after a real nice outing.

Final score: Phillies 7, Pirates 4

Earlier: Hunter Pence Grateful for Chance to Win in Philly

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Look at Pence's hustle! And socks!

Eagles' Brandon Brooks gives father touching gift

Eagles' Brandon Brooks gives father touching gift

How’s this for an awesome deed?

Eagles offensive guard Brandon Brooks took to Twitter to show a heartfelt message, that included a photo of a new car he purchased for his father.

In the tweet, Brooks revealed the mindset his father has instilled in him growing up, not wanting to be average and more.

Nice gesture, Brandon.

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

PITTSBURGH -- The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
 
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
 
So what were the ice conditions?
 
“They were pretty good,” said Sidney Crosby. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
 
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
 
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
 
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
 
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
 
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
 
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
 
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
 
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s. 

Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
 
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
 
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
 
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
 
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
 
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
 
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”