MATCHDAY: Union try to salvage something from trip to California (and the greatest paper airplane throw ever)

MATCHDAY: Union try to salvage something from trip to California (and the greatest paper airplane throw ever)

Union manager John Hackworth is desperately seeking a lineup that works. He gets another shot tonight against Chivas USA. (AP Photo)

Before we get into tonight's match, I present the greatest paper airplane toss of all time (below). This dude at the England-Peru game Friday threw an airplane from the nosebleeds at London's Wembley Stadium, and actually hit a Peru player.

(I am not condoning the tossing of objects onto the field).

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube.com/embed/rKeCNwScSyg width=620 height=349]

Now, onto something far less impressive: The Philadelphia Union.

The Union played so listlessly the last time out that you'd be excused for forgetting the game even happened. But it did, and the Union lost 4-1 to the LA Galaxy.

The team stayed in California for the week to prepare for tonight's game against Chivas USA (10:30 p.m. - Comcast SportsNet), in the same stadium where they were embarrassed last week.

Cristian Maidana is set to return from a red card suspension, but it's anyone's guess what kind of lineup John Hackworth will throw out there. Tactically, nothing has been working of late. And, more frighteningly, it was pretty obvious last week that the team was just not ready to play. Once it was clear that LA was going to run wild, the Union absolutely rolled over and let it happen.

(phillysoccerpage.net)

Personally, I wish Hackworth would look inward a little bit, and see that his guys don't fit into the formation that he seems dead-set on using. There was a great post this week from the always-excellent Dan Walsh of the Philly Soccer Page, where he gives credit to Hackworth and the Union for TRYING to play attractive soccer this season. I'd sum it up here, but it's definitely worth your time to give it a good read.

At the end of the post, Dan proposes a new Union lineup that I would be 100 percent behind (seen at right). Mostly, he calls for Hackworth to put the lineup out there and leave it alone for a few games. At this point, the Union only have two games left before a long break for the World Cup (the only chance for a Hackworth firing during the season, in my opinion), but I would not mind seeing this lineup for two games. You have nothing to lose, and what you're doing is not working. So let a young prospect like Zach Peffer learn on the job, and let Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira thrive in more comfortable positions.

And, please, for all that is holy, put Brian Carroll on the bench.

Prediction: I somehow, actually think the Union figure it out and provide some false hope against a pretty bad Chivas team. They will at least make it worthwhile to stay up past midnight. ... Union 3, Chivas USA 1.

 

Best of MLB: Blue Jays beat Orioles in opener of AL wild-card showdown

Best of MLB: Blue Jays beat Orioles in opener of AL wild-card showdown

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer, Aaron Sanchez struck out 10 and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on Tuesday night in the opener of their AL wild-card showdown.

Ezequiel Carrera also homered as the Blue Jays won for the sixth time in eight games. They lead the wild-card standings by two games over the Orioles with five to play.

Baltimore began the day two games ahead of Detroit and Seattle for the league's final playoff spot.

Orioles slugger Chris Davis was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Will Little after striking out against Joe Biagini in the seventh, the third time in three at-bats Davis was caught looking. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter also was tossed after he came out to argue (see full recap).

Syndergaard, Mets pound grieving Marlins
MIAMI -- With time running out in the playoff race, the New York Mets set sympathy aside.

Noah Syndergaard struck out eight and allowed one run in six innings Tuesday night, and the Mets totaled 19 hits to beat the grieving Miami Marlins 12-1.

Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes each hit his 31st homer for the Mets, who began the game with a half-game lead over the Giants in the battle for the first NL wild-card berth, with the Cardinals 1 1/2 games behind.

The game was the Marlins' second since the death of ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident. One night after a heart-tugging victory over New York filled with tributes to their teammate, emotions were more subdued, and Miami's bats were too.

Syndergaard (14-9) had a lot to do with that. After missing a scheduled start Saturday with strep throat, he threw 93 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.60, third-best in the majors. He'll return to pitch the regular-season finale Sunday at Philadelphia if needed (see full recap).

Cards beat Reds to tighten wild-card race
ST. LOUIS -- Playing with a heavy heart, Aledmys Diaz hit his first career grand slam and the St. Louis Cardinals finished with five home runs Tuesday night in a 12-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Chasing the Giants and Mets in a tight race for the two NL wild cards, St. Louis moved within a half-game of San Francisco for the league's final playoff spot -- pending the Giants' late game against Colorado.

New York, which beat Miami 12-1, leads the wild-card standings and remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals.

Jhonny Peralta had a three-run homer and drove in four runs for the Cardinals, who had lost four of five. Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Matt Adams also homered (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Roman Quinn injured as Phillies lose 7-6

Instant Replay: Roman Quinn injured as Phillies lose 7-6

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA – The Phillies blew a six-run lead and suffered a 7-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
 
The Phillies also lost promising rookie outfielder Roman Quinn to a left oblique strain. Quinn had two singles and a double in his first three at-bats of the game as he helped the Phillies build a 6-0 lead. He struck out in the fifth inning then exited the game an inning later.
 
Oblique injuries generally keep a player sidelined for at least three weeks, so Quinn’s season is likely over. He missed six weeks with a similar injury at Double A Reading this summer. The 23-year-old outfielder came up from the minors on Sept. 11 and has been auditioning for a spot on next season’s opening day roster.
 
Injuries have been a consistent hurdle for Quinn ever since he was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. He has missed significant time with a ruptured Achilles tendon, a wrist injury that required surgery, a torn quad muscle and an oblique strain. Now he has another one.
 
The start of the game was delayed 31 minutes by rain. The game was delayed again for one hour and 53 minutes at the start of the fifth inning.
 
Starting pitching report
Jerad Eickhoff sailed through the first four innings on one hit, no walks and five strikeouts. The only hit he allowed was a solo homer to Freddie Freeman in the fourth. Eickhoff was up 6-1 when the rains came and ended his night.
 
Eickhoff has made 32 starts and recorded a 3.72 ERA. He has pitched 191 1/3 innings.
 
Eickhoff has one more start left. That will come in Sunday’s season finale.
 
Braves right-hander Julio Teheran was hit hard. He gave up 10 hits and six runs in four innings. One of the hits was a first-inning grand slam by Ryan Howard.
 
Bullpen report
The Phillies’ bullpen was tagged for six runs. It has an ERA of 8.03 this month.
 
At the plate
Howard’s grand slam was his second this season and 15th of his career. He is second on the team with 24 homers. He has 52 homrers and 154 RBIs in 182 career games against the Braves.
 
Freeman’s solo homer against Eickhoff extended his hitting streak to 29 games.
 
Tyler Flowers had a three-run home run to lead the Braves' four-run sixth.
 
The Braves came all the way back with a pair of runs in the eighth. Mallex Smith drove in the tying run and Emilio Bonafacio knocked in the go-ahead run. Both of the hits came against David Hernandez, who took the loss. Leftfielder Darin Ruf failed to make a play on a double by Flowers to the warning track. The ball was catchable. The play aided the Braves’ comeback.
 
ICYMI
Pete Mackanin will take his plea for a hitter to the front office Friday (see story).
 
Pitching plans
With Jake Thompson skipping his final start, the Phillies will have to use their bullpen to get through either Friday or Saturday’s game. Mackanin indicated that he may use the bullpen Friday night against the Mets and go with Alec Asher in Saturday afternoon’s nationally televised game. Eickhoff is scheduled to pitch the season finale on Sunday.
 
Up next
The series continues Wednesday night with lefty Adam Morgan (2-10, 5.57) opposing Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (8-5. 4.41).

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