Phils Live in a Vance Down by the River

Phils Live in a Vance Down by the River

So there's Cliff Lee, sitting in the dugout for the Phillies' first game since he pitched 10 scoreless innings and still lost, his team unable to put up a single run. Just half an inning into their next opportunity, they loaded the bases and plated a run. It wasn't much, but it would have been enough to get Cliff a W, and on Thursday night, it was enough to get Vance Worley one. 
Worley was the latest Phils pitcher to put in a dominant performance, striking out 11 while allowing just four hits and three walks over a scoreless seven innings. The Phillies would score just one more run (unearned) in the ninth inning, giving the late-night watchers seven straight dual-shutout frames a night after going ten straight in San Francisco. Hope you're a fan of pitching, because it was once again brutal to watch the Phillies at the dish. 
Game notes and photos below. 
NotesJuan Pierre had a good night at the top of the lineup. He drew a walk to lead off the game, advanced to third on a Polly single and an error, then scored on a J-Roll sac fly. In the second, he beat out a thrown from his friend Orland Hudson to grab an infield single (right), then later tripled in the fifth. He's up to a .333 avg. 
More good news from the hill: Chad Qualls pitched his fifth straight scoreless relief inning, giving up a walk but no hits to hold the gate for Jonathan Papelbon. Nothing left the infield in the eighth.
Paps got the save despite walking the leadoff hitter in the ninth, inducing a double play before striking out Jason Bartlett to end the enthralling evening. 
The play of the game came in the sixth inning, when Chooch and J-Roll combined on a double play to shut down a double-steal attempt. As Jeremy Hermida struck out, Chase Headley attempted to pull a throw to second base while Will Venable made for home. Chooch gunned it to second, and J-Roll volleyed it back, where Venable plowed Ruiz, but without success because Chooch = tank. 
Clearly, it was disappointing that the Phils couldn't do more damage against a kid making his second career start in Joe Wieland. Wieland was knocked around in his debut, allowing six earned with just one strikeout in a loss to the Dodgers. The Phils looked to have him ready to unravel again in the first, but let him off the hook, and he never got back on. 
Thankfully, they had Worley, who was nasty and unafraid of testing hitters over the plate nor using his breaking balls in a variety of counts. He struck out the side in the first, the latter two hitters looking. Continuing his trend from last season, seven of his 11 K's were backward on the night. Love seeing those blank yet angry looks on a batter's face as the game continues around him, the defense leaving the field while he stands motionless next to the plate. Or, freaking out, like Mark Kotsay did after Worley won a full-count, two-out, two runners on battle in the seventh.
Usually in a battery with Brian Schneider, Charlie Manuel wanted to change things up and caught Worley with Ruiz. 
TonightCole Hamels pitches in front of his home crowd against righty Edinson Volquez. 
Photos by Christopher Hanewinckel-US Presswire

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

For the most part, Carson Wentz had a pretty successful rookie season. 

Sure, the Eagles finished with a 7-9 record, but Wentz did enough to continue the franchise's belief that he is indeed the quarterback of the future. 

Another guy in Dallas did the same thing with the Cowboys. Actually, Dak Prescott had an even more impressive rookie season, leading the Cowboys to 13 wins, while winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. 

Prescott, a fourth-round pick, had a great year, but didn't try to do too much. And that's what impressed Eagles head coach Doug Pederson the most. 

"[Prescott] understood this right away, that he didn't have to win the game for them," Pederson said on The Doomsday Podcast, hosted by Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. (Pederson also talked about running the Rocky steps). "He knew that he had a good defense, a tremendous offensive line, a great runner, he had some veteran players that he could rely on and he learned that early. As soon as he had the opportunity to play and that was early, from Day 1. 

"That's something that a young quarterback, sometimes it takes them a while to figure out the game that way. That's the impressive thing, that he learned how to handle that business that well, utilize the people around him and understand that he didn't have to go win the game."

While Prescott had plenty of help during his rookie season, it was pretty evident Wentz was lacking in that area. 

Prescott had a great offensive line, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Wentz had an offensive line that was missing Lane Johnson, an often-injured Ryan Mathews and receivers like Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing serious snaps. 

So it made sense when the team went out this offseason and signed Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and recently LeGarrette Blount, as free agents, finally getting Wentz some real help. 

"We had opportunities to get those two guys and it was obvious last year, we were young at the wide receiver position," Peterson said. "We needed some leadership, some veteran presence there and we went out and got that with Torrey and Alshon. We still want to build through the draft, we still want to acquire young talent. 

"LeGarrette Blount now is a guy that gives us that big back, running back, that can come in and compete and hopefully he does everything he did at New England the last couple of seasons. He had 18 rushing touchdowns for over 1,000 yards and we just expect that same level of performance here."

Maybe having weapons will allow Wentz to do what made Prescott so impressive to Pederson in 2016: not too much. 

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Pete Mackanin is still searching for answers to the Phillies' offensive woes following Sunday afternoon's disheartening 1-0 loss in Pittsburgh during which the Phils could only muster three hits.

The latest lineup twist as the search for an answer continues will see Michael Saunders bat in the eight-hole tonight as the Phils open a four-game series with the surging Rockies tonight at Citizens Bank Park (see game notes).

When he has started this season, Saunders has been a fixture within the middle of the Phillies' order. After all, the offseason free-agent signing was an All-Star for Toronto last season when he hit 24 homers and drove in 57 runs.

But this season hasn't gone as planned as Saunders is hitting just .232 with four homers and 15 RBI in 41 games with the Phils this season.

With Saunders' drop down the lineup, Tommy Joseph will bat fourth, Maikel Franco fifth and Odubel Herrera sixth against Rockies spot starter Jeff Hoffman.

Tonight's full lineup can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Aaron Altherr LF
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Odubel Herrera CF
7. Cameron Rupp C
8. Michael Saunders RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff SP