Phillies Start Second Half With 7-2 Win Behind Fine Play From Ibanez, Mayberry

Phillies Start Second Half With 7-2 Win Behind Fine Play From Ibanez, Mayberry

Ahh, Phillies victories. It's been days since we've gotten to experience one of those. Unlike last season, when the Phillies stumbled into the second half after the All-Star break, the Phillies wasted no time getting back to where they left off last week. They rode the fine play of Raul Ibanez, John Mayberry, and the solid pitching of Worley and the pen to beat the Mets 7-2. As they should.

The Phils got to Dickey early, putting up 3 runs in the second inning. Raul Ibanez started things off with a single to left. Sports Illustrated cover boy Carlos Ruiz smacked a single up the middle and then Domonic Brown worked a base on balls to load the bases. John Mayberry Jr. smacked a single up the middle to put the Phils up 2-0 and Charlie then gave Vance Worley a green line which paid off. Worley weakly grounded out to third, but Brown was either running all the way from third or got a great read on the ball and scored without a play. Jimmy popped out to end the inning, but the Phils were up 3-0 and never looked back.

After making an impressive diving grab out in left field in the bottom of the fifth, Rauuuuuul did it at the dish in the top half of the following inning, bashing a homer out towards Utley's corner that put the Phillies up 4-0. It was Ibanez's 13th homer of the season.

Vanimal Earns the Win

Vance Worley was okay in his first start back from his short stint with Lehigh Valley. He managed to avoid any real trouble until the bottom of the sixth. A walk to Carlos Beltran, a single to David Murphy, and another walk to Jason Bay loaded the bases with one out and Charlie had seen enough from Vance. Manuel went with 9-pitch-inning-is-this-guy-for-real Juan Perez whose effectively wild style came back to bite the Phillies just a bit. Perez threw a wild pitch that allowed the Mets to get one on the board. He almost threw another one away to the following batter, but Chooch miraculously kept it in front of him. Perez finally forced a groundout to Martinez to end the inning with only minimal damage done.

Madson to Stutes to Bastardo

Needing three innings from the pen, Charlie had the luxury of using Ryan Madson in the seventh, easing him back into major league action. Madson looked sharp in his first game back from the DL, hitting 95 on the gun, and striking out Ruben Tejada and Jason Pridie (who?) before forcing Angel Pagan to pop out to center. Not a bad seventh inning guy, eh?

Michael Stutes hiccuped a blast of a homer to Carlos Beltran and had to really work to limit the Mets to only one run in the eighth.

Despite having a five run lead, Antonio  Bastardo was called on to pitch the ninth. And he did it well (1-2-3). Finishing off the Mets and completing the Phillies win to kick off the second half on the right foot.

Per the broadcast this evening, Antonio Bastardo has held opponents to one hit in their last 48 at-bats.

LOLMets & Big John

After Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada screwed up a routine groundball that would have ended the eighth inning, Mayberry ripped a bases-loaded double that scored 'em all. 7-2 Phils. Game over. [watch the double here]

Big John continues to swing a hot bat, finishing the day 2-4 with 5 RBIs.

Eye On the Enemy

The Braves kept pace with the Phillies by beating the Nationals 11-1 in Atlanta. [box]

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

The Phillies are a lifeless team right now.

For a while the starting pitching was the biggest issue, then it was the bullpen, now it's the offense. The Phils have hit .224 since May 12, which was when their 2-7 road trip began. 

Their .268 on-base percentage over that span is worst in the majors and their .613 OPS is better than only the Mariners.

Players up and down the lineup are slumping. Odubel Herrera has hit .207 with a .246 OBP since the ninth game of the season. Michael Saunders hasn't given them much at any point. Maikel Franco had an eight-game hit streak snapped Monday, but even still is hitting .221 with a .281 on-base percentage. 

At this point, why not bring up Roman Quinn and play him every day? It makes too much sense right now.

Daniel Nava went on the 10-day DL Monday with a hamstring strain suffered Friday in Pittsburgh. It doesn't seem to be a serious injury, but why not use the open space as an excuse to bring Quinn up for at least a few days and see what he's got?

Quinn could infuse some energy and life to the top of a sputtering lineup. Bat him second, play him in the corner outfield and see what happens. At the very least, he'd be a defensive upgrade over Saunders. At the most, Quinn's hunger to stick in the majors could result in a hot streak that sparks the top of the order the way Herrera does when he's hot.

Quinn is hitting lately at Triple A, batting .333 with a .424 OBP over his last 15 games. He showed last September that he can be an offensive catalyst with his ability to beat out infield singles, bunt for hits and spray the ball. Yes, he strikes out too much for a leadoff-type hitter, but it's just hard to see the downside of a call-up right now.

The argument against bringing Quinn up now is that it's too early to sour on Saunders, a player the Phillies signed in hopes of trading at some point. But think about how much Saunders would have to do to have worthwhile trade value. Yeah, you could flip him somewhere for a negligible return or some salary relief, but he'd have to be extremely productive for at least a month to get a team interested in trading a minor-leaguer of any value for him.

Pete Mackanin has tried many things to spark the Phils' lineup, moving Herrera and Franco down, sitting guys, challenging guys. The best solution, perhaps the only solution right now, might be a move made over his head to promote the Phils' speedy, switch-hitting outfielder who has a future with them so long as he stays on the field, which he has this season.

As for Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro, who have also hit very well at Triple A, they just happen to play the same positions as Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, who have been the Phillies' most reliable bats the last few weeks.

Jason Kelce ignoring trade rumors as he tries to work on himself

Jason Kelce ignoring trade rumors as he tries to work on himself

Jason Kelce is aware of the rumors and reports that have surrounded his name this offseason. 

As much as he might try to avoid them, the Eagles' veteran center does not, presumably, live under a rock. So he's heard for months about the possibility of his long run with the Eagles coming to a close. 

After all, the Eagles have stockpiled an abundance of interior offensive linemen who can play center, and trading Kelce would save the team $3.8 million in cap space. 

So it all makes sense, but Kelce is trying to keep it out of his mind. 

"I think you'll drive yourself crazy if you're reading too much into what's going on," he said on Tuesday as the Eagles kicked off their voluntary OTAs. "My whole offseason has just kind of been really the only thing I can control is my game and the way I play and what I've been doing. So I've just really tried to hit the weight room, work on technique, work on things to try to get my game back to where it used to be."

How is he able to put it out of his mind? 

"Because worrying about it doesn't do any good," he answered.

While the Eagles have Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski ready to play center if necessary, head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday that Kelce is still "the guy." 

Kelce, 29, was named to his second career Pro Bowl team last season, which might be a surprise to those who watched the Eagles throughout the year. Kelce wasn't as bad as some people think, but he also probably wasn't a Pro Bowl-caliber player. 

He got off to a very slow start in 2016 but did seem to get better as the season went on.  

"I feel at times last year, there were times I was dominant and games where I didn't really do a great job," he said. "You go back and watch film and try to make the corrections, try to make sure that moving forward I'm the same player I was in the past."

Kelce attributed many of his problems early last season to lousy technique. He's been trying extra hard to work on that part of his game as well as in the weight room. 

Often characterized as undersized, he said weighed 295 pounds on Tuesday morning. That's also his listed weight on the Eagles' website. 

All last season, Kelce said he played in the 290s, which was heavier than he had been in a long time. His goal this offseason is to make it up to 300 pounds by training camp, and then he hopes to keep the weight on. 

"I would certainly think so," he said. "As you get older, it gets a little bit easier to put on the weight and hold it on. I think everybody kind of finds that out."

Perhaps the biggest reason for the Eagles to keep Kelce around this season is the development of quarterback Carson Wentz in his second year. Kelce, as his center, might be integral to Wentz's growth. Although Kelce said he doesn't think of it like that when asked if that relationship gives him an advantage over others.  

Kelce has been with the Eagles since 2011 when he was a sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati. He's played and started 78 games in six seasons. 

He admitted last season he needed to play better or he knew he would become expendable (see story). So the rumors and reports this season likely aren't a shock to him. 

He's still not going to pay attention to them. 

"The reality is, we always have guys coming in, coming out," he said. "Now we happen to have a lot of really good depth at interior line. But like I said, it doesn't do me any good worrying about the what-ifs. All I can control is what I can control and that's how I go out and play, how I go out and prepare and how I try to get back to the player I've been in the past."