Phils take Giants opener, East tightens to 3.5

Phils take Giants opener, East tightens to 3.5

Randy Wolf pitched a great game to lead the Phillies past the Giants and the Braves fell to the Nationals making the NL East the tightest division in baseball.  Atlanta and Florida are tied atop the division with Washington being 1.5 back, the Mets 2.5 back, and the Phillies 3.5 back.

Ryan Madson continues to thrive as the Phillies setup man going 1.1 innings of shutout ball.  In contrast Billy Wagner seems to be going through some Mitch Williams phase going 1 inning and giving up another Home Run ball.  Maybe it was the fans fault that Billy served up a dinger to Yorvit Torrealba, Yorvy's second of the year:

Pronounced: yor VEET tor-EE-all-buh   (what would we do without ESPN)

The Phillies seem to be on track lately, winning 10 of their last 16, and are right back in the hunt for the tight knit East.  I still don't think the fans of Philly are on board, however.  You may ask yourself, Why not?  I tend to go along with the theory that the outspoken criticism of the fans by Phillies players (Lofton, Rollins, Wagner, etc.) and coaches (Cholly telling the fans to study the game) has made this city have no real interest in the team.  The team doesn't have very many likable guys.  (Chase Utley, Madson, but even Wagner & JRoll have peaved fans)  Philly fans are thinking, "how can the players criticize us when they haven't won jack squat in 25 years?"

Back on my post last Monday prior to their "crucial upcoming series" with the Fish and Braves I said:

If they split and go 3 and 3, they will linger around for a while and eventually crumble.

They did in fact split and I'm sticking with my guns.  The Phillies may make it interesting and raise the hopes of some fans, but in the end I think they will fall short.  What do I base this on?  No real stats, just the fact that falling short is all I know from this town.

I would love  nothing more than the Phillies to prove me wrong.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.