Cliff Lee Looks to Make a Mock'ry Out of Nats

Cliff Lee Looks to Make a Mock'ry Out of Nats

It's hard to think that after being swept by the Astros, the Phillies' road trip could get much worse. A look at the schedule showing three nights at Natty Park was a signal that it was either going to (A) level out with some fire power and great pitching, or (B) in fact, get a whole lot worse. Heading into the closing frames of last night's opener, there were some signs that the Phils could be coming out of it. They were still relying a bit too much on the long ball, but when Raul is leading the homer parade after his rough second half, it can't be a bad thing. But then the ninth rolled around, and we got to view our greatest fears.

We don't need to relive all that, but fortunately, it was like a bad dream. Agonizing, but in the end, free of actual consequence. Like most dreams though, there was a message, a foreboding truth: this team currently has no closer. 

Earlier today, we asked you all what you'd do if you were in Charlie Manuel's shoes and a save opp arose tonight. Chances are, Chollie still isn't sure, and I don't blame him. But with Cliff Lee on the mound for the Phils and Garrett Mock for the Nationals, we'd better be winning come the ninth, save opp or not. 

Mock has been knocked around quite a bit in his 23 appearances (10 starts) this season, yielding 80 hits and 29 walks in just 62.1 innings. Like the submissive once said, that's a helluva painful WHIP, son. He's particularly been battered by lefties, although righties haven't been shy against him either. 

Lee, meanwhile, has been proven human in his last two starts, but Phillies fans don't seem to have lost much if any faith in the new ace. There was no way he was going to keep up the pace he set in his first month with the team. Hopefully that's out of his system though, and he can get back to being the steady, top-of-the-rotation guy he's been for the past two years. A third consecutive 6 ER performance, this time against the Nationals, a night after Brad Lidge's... You get the point. 

We need a win tonight. 

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

It really felt like we could've gotten this one. The Denver Nuggets are hardly pushovers, but they came into this one a 7-13 team that'd lost their last three games, and even last night they seemed fairly beatable, even for a Philadelphia 76ers team still missing Robert Covington (in additional to our usual mini-roster of absentees). But Philly's energy sagged in the third quarter as Denver caught a second wind, and they spent the final frame hitting shots that the Sixers couldn't answer. Final score: Nuggets 106, 76ers 98. 

The most sobering part of the loss was that Joel Embiid finally played what would best be described as "a bad game." Not that bad, of course — even at his worst, Joel still managed 16 points and notched career-high five blocks. But he only shot 5-15 from the field, turned ball over three times, grabbed just four boards and played a large part in the sinkhole offense that the Sixers played in the late third and early fourth that ultimately cost them this one. JoJo still has trouble reading double teams and knowing when not to attack into traffic, and his frustration was extremely evident as he kept trying to do too much and paying the price for it. 

Nonetheless, even with an off Embiid night and a still-slumping Sauce — officially down to Left in the Car Overnight temperature after a night of 4 points on 1-7 shooting in 35 minutes — Philly probably still coulda gotten this one. Sergio Rodriguez appears to have swiped Nik's swag at least temporarily, with a season-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting to go with seven dimes and three steals, while Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also poured in 17 and 8 each, and the Nuggets wings were largely kept quiet for two and a half quarters. But even while struggling, the Nuggets paraded their way to free-throw line — 34 FTAs for the night, including 12 for Danilo Gallinari alone — and once they caught fire late, the Sixers just couldn't keep up. 

A bummer for a team that's now lost seven in a row, and has to face the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis — their fourth game in five nights, and the first of a three-game road trip — without Embiid and also without Jahlil Okafor, out with illness. Even with the Grizz missing their own big names (no Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph or Vince Carter lately) and likely suffering from fatigue of their own after a double-OT road win last night in New Orleans, the 4-17 Sixers are gonna have a tough go matching Memphis' grit and grind tonight. Anytime you feel like Supermanning in and saving the day now would be cool, Nerlens Noel. Just sayin'.

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.