Phils Lose After Halladay Gets Pummeled, But at Least Ryan Howard Joins 300-Homer Club

Phils Lose After Halladay Gets Pummeled, But at Least Ryan Howard Joins 300-Homer Club

With the Phillies down 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, desperate for a win to stay alive in the NL wild card race, Ryan Howard blasted one over the centerfield fence. A clear home run from the instant of contact, the ball slammed into the ivy-covered brick wall in front of Ashburn Alley. No fans would have their lifelong home run catch wish granted on this one though, which would have been a heck of a story because it was Howard's 300th career homer. (The ball landed in the shrubs under the batter's eye in center.) Watch it here. 
Number 300 may not crack the top 100 in MLB history (Howard's now tied with former Phillie Chuck Klein at 134), but Howard is still only the second player to hit that many in a Phillies uniform, behind Michael Jack. According to Daily News beat man Ryan Lawrence, it's also the second fewest games that anyone has ever needed to reach 300. Lawrence points out that Ralph Kiner did it in 1,087 games played, just under Howard's 1,093. 
When Howard crumbled to the ground out of the batter's box in the final at bat of the 2011 Phillies postseason, the achilles injury he sustained seemed like it might wipe out his 2012 season. Among a slew of other ailments, Howard's prolonged absence is a critical reason the Phillies need other teams to lose if they want to play in October this year. But his increasing power since returning is a reason that hope isn't completely lost just yet (at least for the undaunted optimists), and at the very least, a healthy Howard is something to look forward to next spring. The Big Piece has now homered in four straight games. 
Unfortunately, the Phils couldn't do much more at the plate. The homer was Howard's only hit of the game, and only two of his teammates would join him in getting a hit on the day as Atlanta starter Mike Minor and his bullpen shut them down the rest of the way. 
Roy Halladay was chased from the mound before the second inning was over, the second shortest appearance of his career per Jim Salisbury. Doc served up six runs before departing in the second inning and was charged with a seventh. Salisbury wonders if we've seen Halladay's last appearance of 2012. Laboring and having trouble locating his pitches, it's hard to see a reason why—especially if the wild card is further out of reach by his next turn.  
With the Cardinals beating the Cubs, Saturday saw the Phils slide to four games back... 
Cliff Lee faces Tim Hudson tomorrow afternoon. 

Today's Lineup: Cesar Hernandez (groin) returns

Today's Lineup: Cesar Hernandez (groin) returns

Cesar Hernandez returns to the Phillies' punchless lineup on Saturday afternoon against the Reds (4 p.m./TCN).

Hernandez, who missed Friday night's 5-2 loss with a groin injury, is back at second base and leading off. Hernandez has led off in all 44 games he's started this season. The fifth-year pro has struggled after getting off to a torrid start. He's hitting just .185 (10 for 54) over his last 14 games.

After bouncing around the lineup, centerfielder Odubel Herrera returns to his customary spot in the two-hole. Herrera's season is a microcosm of the Phils' woeful offense. An All-Star in 2016, Herrera is hitting just .227 this season. Manager Pete Mackanin hopes the Venezuelan will hit his way out of it soon (see story).

Here is the rest of today's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NHL draft, on Saturday afternoon added some CHL hardware to their trophy case.

Patrick won the Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award, beating out Hischier and Windsor's Gabriel Vilardi, while Hischier edged Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi and Guelph's Ryan Merkley for the CCM Rookie of the Year Award.

Injuries forced Patrick to play just 33 games this season, but he still produced at a point-per-game pace for Brandon. He finished with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists).

Hischier scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Mooseheads, his first season in the QMJHL after coming over from Switzerland.

The Flyers have the No. 2 overall pick. If the draft goes as projected, the Flyers will come away with either Patrick or Hischier, whoever the New Jersey Devils do not pick.

The 2017 NHL draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.

Missing history
Flyers prospect Carter Hart had a chance to become the first goalie in CHL history to win the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year Award twice, but this year's award went elsewhere.

Owen Sound goalie Michael McNiven on Saturday afternoon took home the 2016-17 CHL Goaltender of the Year Award. McNiven was 41-9-4 for the Attack this season. He posted a 2.30 goals-against average and .915 save percentage with six shutouts.

McNiven led the Ontario Hockey League in save percentage, and his six shutouts were tied with Windsor's Michael DiPietro for the league lead. His 41 wins were tops in the OHL.

Hart, 18, posted a 32-11-6 record in 54 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2016-17. His 1.99 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and nine shutouts were all ranked No. 1 in the WHL.

Despite missing out on the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award this year, Hart previously did win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the WHL's Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season. He was twice named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week and had a shutout streak of 193 minutes and 48 seconds during the regular season.

Hart was one of three second-round picks by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft.