Rollins, Phillies Walk It Off Yet AGAIN

Rollins, Phillies Walk It Off Yet AGAIN

What on earth is happening at Citizens Bank Park?

For the fourth consecutive day, the Phillies won in dramatic fashion. By responding to a one-run deficit in the bottom of the tenth on Wednesday, they produced both their third comeback and walk-off victories this week -- a 7-6 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers that also represents the first three-game sweep of 2012.

Simply put, this has been unlike any stretch of baseball the Fightins have played all season.

Behind Vance Worley (5.1 IP, 10 H, 3 ER) and a stellar relief effort from Kyle Kendrick (1.2, 1, 0), the Phillies built a 5-3 lead through seven frames, with three of the home team's runs coming off the bat of Chase Utley. Charlie Manuel's decision to have Antonio Bastardo pitch to Ryan Braun with a runner on in the eighth proved disastrous however, as the National League's reigning MVP sent a 2-1 offering into the left-field seats -- his 28th of the season -- to knot the score.

Jonathan Papelbon got the Phils to extras, where defensive miscues reared their ugly head once again. Subbing for the hurting Placido Polanco, Ty Wigginton dropped a routine pop up in front of the third base bag, his 12th error of the season allowing Carlos Gomez to take second. Gomez reached home after a pair of sacrifices to give the Brew Crew a 6-5 lead, putting Michael Schwimer on the hook for a loss, but setting the table for the latest set of heroics.

With their backs against the wall, John Mayberry worked a one-out walk, and giving Carlos Ruiz the day off, Erik Kratz belted a double into the corner for his third hit of the afternoon. Chooch still managed to have his finger prints all over this one, following Kratz's AB with a pinch-hit sac fly to bring Mayberry home to tie the game. Finally, with two down, Jimmy Rollins slapped a line drive into right-center, scoring a sliding Mike Fontenot running for Kratz.

Elation. We're starting to get used to that feeling again.

It was Rollins' second walk-off hit over this four-game span, and the second blown save for Milwaukee's Francisco Rodriguez in this series -- sixth this year.

Before anybody goes overboard with effusive praise, it's worth a reminder that three of the last four are over the Brewers, who all of a sudden find themselves one of the few teams in the NL with a worse record than Philadelphia. But hey, when the club is scrapping for life, you take the W's however they come.

And as for the question we lead with -- what on earth is happening at CBP? -- the answer couldn't be more obvious. This really is a different team when all of the key players are healthy.

There is still something to look forward to here.

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Flyers got some swagger back Sunday night.

But especially so on the power play, which entered Sunday's clash just 2 for 19 over the last six games.

Two markers on the man advantage helped the Flyers edge the Canucks, 3-2, at Rogers Arena in Vanvoucer (see Instant Replay).

“It all comes back to finding a way to produce – and they did that tonight,” said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who had called for his power-play participants to rediscover that swagger.

Hakstol’s club won for the first time in its last nine games in Western Canada. More importantly, the Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference.

Thanks to the power-play success, the Flyers built a 3-0 lead in the game’s first 23 minutes and then hung on, atoning for a sub-par effort in a one-sided loss to the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night.

The Flyers converted two of three power plays while blanking the Canucks on all four of their man advantages. The loss prevented the Canucks (26-28-6) from getting closer to a Western Conference playoff berth.

“I thought we were playing some pretty good hockey of late, but the pucks weren't going in,” said Flyers center Brayden Schenn, who scored the winning goal on the power play at 2:38 of the second period. “Tonight, we tightened up defensively again from Edmonton's game and were able to score a few more goals. It's a huge two points going home."

Wayne Simmonds, also on the power play, and Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers’ other goals.

“We needed a win,” Simmonds said. “Especially after the game in Edmonton, this is good for the morale."

Shayne Gostisbehere assisted on all three goals, recording the first three-point night of his career.

Schenn’s winning goal came only a minute and 27 seconds after Voracek gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 1:11 of the second by sending Sean Couturier’s huge rebound into a gaping net behind Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. Voracek’s goal was his first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

How did long sought-after goal make him feel?

"Like I scored a goal,” deadpanned Voracek. “We won the game. That’s the way I looked at it. It doesn't matter who scored the goals. Special teams were huge tonight. I liked our power play. We were going all 60 minutes. This one kept us in the race."

The Flyers were a well-rested team thanks to a two-day break between games and a three-day break before the start of the road trip. The Canucks, on the other hand, were playing their second of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip. But there was still considerable suspense over the final 30 minutes.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen tallied for the Canucks, who are known as comeback artists, at 3:43 and 12:42 of the second, respectively, before the Flyers shut Vancouver down the rest of the way. Voracek indicated the Flyers were not nervous in the final frame.

"I don't think we changed anything to be honest,” he said. We were pretty tight in the neutral zone. We didn't give them much. When we had a couple of breakdowns, [Michal Neuvirth] was on his act.”

Neuvirth stopped 18 of 20 shots as the Flyers outshot the Canucks, 28-20. He enjoyed a much better start Sunday, holding the Canucks scoreless in the opening period after allowing four goals on his first 12 shots on Thursday in Edmonton. One of his better saves came with just over a minute into the game as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close.

"I felt good,” said Neuvirth. “I have been practicing well and playing with confidence. The last game, it didn't work out. I put that one behind me and restarted my mind and got back to work tonight.”

“I thought he was excellent,” said Hakstol. “He was calm and settled in there. You can go back through that 60 minutes and you can pick out three or four pretty darned good saves.”

Neuvirth excelled while making his fourth consecutive start and sixth in the past seven games overall.

“It feels good,” he said of the heavy workload. “It feels better when we win.”

But he was not about to get too excited. The Flyers have a tough clash at home Wednesday against NHL-best Washington and a road game Saturday at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field against the rival Penguins as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.

“We have a tough schedule coming and we have to be ready,” Neuvirth said.

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

All hail the pick swap.

When word got out that the Sacramento Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, Sixers fans on Twitter rejoiced.

On July 10, 2015, the Sixers traded away the rights to Artūras Gudaitis and Luka Mitrović, and, in return, received an unprotected 2019 first round pick, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and the right to swap first-round selections in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

The Cousins move appears to significantly weaken the Kings, who are 24-33 and just 2.5 games better than the Sixers, so the pick swap looks healthier than ever.

But, for now, enjoy some samplings of Sixers Twitter from after the trade.

Here are some of the best tweets.