Cot for Choice, Cotdammit! Phils Win Again, Ruiz Top Hitter in MLB; Utley Homers in Final Tune-Up

Cot for Choice, Cotdammit! Phils Win Again, Ruiz Top Hitter in MLB; Utley Homers in Final Tune-Up

So, we're now a mere five days from July, well on our way to the All-Star Break, and Carlos Ruiz is batting .361, good for the best average in either league. Overshadowing for the moment the greatness of this increasing sample size, Chooch gave the Phillies the cushion they'd eventually need to beat the Pirates, 5-4, with a home run to lead off the eighth inning on Tuesday night. It was a new career-best 10th long ball on the season.
Ruiz also knocked in the game's first run, a single that scored Hunter Pence in the first inning, and scored on a two-run Ty Wigginton homer after singling in the third. Back-to-back three-hit games. BEAST. And yet THIRD in All-Star voting for catcher?
In a season during which most other Phillies don't deserve the cardboard punch-out or 25-at-a-time votes online, Chooch deserves every vote we have (note: that's actually infinity votes). Maybe the reason he's so far behind (2,448,942) Buster Posey (3,335,982) and Yadier Molina (3,119,530) is because none of his teammates are pushing the full-team ballot this year, but that makes him even more worthy. 
With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard playing a combined zero games to date (soon to change!), Ruiz has stpped up to have his best-ever season so far. Cot 4 Choice... Right guys?

Game NotesPlacido Polanco had his third straight multi-hit game, bringing his average up to .282. Wigginton had a single in addition to his homer. Hunter Pence tripled in the first and scored on a Chooch single. 
Vance Worley threw only six full innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks against five K's. Worley was relieved in the seventh after allowing a walk, a single, and a chip RBI double.
Michael Schwimer and Antonio Bastardo continued the modest positive trend from the bullpen, each turning in a scoreless inning. Schwimer entered a volatile situation and diffused it with a pair of outs that included a close play at the plate that miiiight have given a should-be All-Star the benefit of the tag at the plate. Bastardo allowed a double, but the Bucs let him off the hook with a failed bunt (caught near the backstop by Chooch), a fly out, and a K. 
As the CBP faithful shuffled to the best seats to watch the fireworks display, Jonathan Papelbon stopped everyone in their tracks with a long, one-out homer to Mike McHenry. He didn't let it get to him though, inducing a fly out and a strike out to take his 18th save in 19 opportunities. 
Utley WatchChase Utley went 2-5 with a home run in his final tuneup at Lehigh Valley. Uts also made a nice play at second, looking sharp. He'll suit up for the Fightins on Wednesday… 
Up NextThe Phils have announced their spot starter for tomorrow's game—Raul Valdes will face righty James McDonald. 

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

The treasure trove that is Joel Embiid's social media presence unearthed another jewel on Saturday evening.

The Sixers' big man took to Instagram to post a picture of himself chatting with local folk legend Sam Hinkie. As if that wasn't enough, check out the captions he wrote at the bottom.

THE GOAT #HeDiedForOurSins #TrustTheProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Let us break this down.

"THE GOAT" - As in Greatest Of All Time, not an actual goat you would find at your local petting zoo.

"#HeDiedForOurSins" - St. Sam, patron saint of analytical basketball martyrdom.

"#TrustTheProcess" - The rallying cry of the masses.

Sure, they may have taken away Sam, but they'll never take away JoJo's social media platforms. Never!

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

Associated Press

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

MONTREAL  -- Didier Drogba broke out with a hat trick to lead the Montreal Impact to a 5-1 victory over the Union on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Ivorian striker hadn't scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.

Ignacio Piatti returned after sitting out a one-game suspension to score a goal and add two assists. Recent signing Matteo Mancuso, who went in for Drogba in the 79th minute, got his first MLS goal in added time.

Montreal improved to 7-5-8.

Chris Pontius scored for Philadelphia (8-7-6).

Odubel Herrera's bat returns, but so do Aaron Nola's struggles in loss to Pirates

Odubel Herrera's bat returns, but so do Aaron Nola's struggles in loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The good news for the Phillies on Saturday was that it finally seems All-Star Odubel Herrera's bat is returning to its typical, productive form.

The centerfielder had his second straight three-hit game Saturday as he continued to pull out of his slump, though it wasn’t enough to keep the Phillies from losing 7-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle game of a three-game series at PNC Park (see Instant Replay).

Yet Herrera’s suddenly hot bat gave the Phillies some reason to feel good on a day when another player who the organization believes can be a foundation player backslid. Right-hander Aaron Nola (5-9) took the loss as he allowed six runs and six hits in four-plus innings.

The bad Nola returned after pitching six scoreless innings in his previous outing Monday against the Miami Marlins. Prior to shutting down the Marlins, Nola allowed a combined 30 runs in five starts while failing to get past the fourth inning four times.

“When he’s at his best, he has control of all his pitches,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s lost his control and he needs to a find a way to get it back.”

However, Herrera improved to 6 for 9 in the series by going 3 for 4 with a triple, two runs scored and two stolen bases. He had been 4 for 41 in his previous 11 games before coming to Pittsburgh, a skid that dropped his batting average to .281 from .300.

“It was getting pretty ugly for about a week there, so it feels good to get some hits,” Herrera said. “That’s my job, to get hits, be successful and help the team win. I really don’t go into too many slumps, so it’s hard to try to fight your way through it and stay positive. When I get a hit, I am happy.”

Herrera is now hitting .290 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 98 games.

There had been a school of thought that making his first All-Star Game appearance July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego might have had an effect on the 24-year-old. The schedule for the players during the festivities is basically non-stop for two days and then Herrera had to fly across the country to rejoin the Phillies in Philadelphia for the second half of the season.

“I was concerned it might have an effect on him,” Mackanin said. “It was the first time he had participated in an even of that magnitude and it can be hard to refocus after that.”

Herrera, though, said he is not sure how much being an All-Star played into his cold spell.

“Maybe it did,” Herrera said. “It was a busy couple of days there. I don’t know what to compare it to because I hadn’t been before. Obviously, I didn’t have the same chance to rest as a lot of other players, so it could have had an effect. However, playing in the All-Star Game was a great experience and I am glad I had a chance to be there.”

If Herrera plays like he has the last two games, Herrera figures to appear in more Midsummer Classics before his career is through.

“He has the ability to win a batting title,” Mackanin said. “He’s that good of a hitter. He’s a smart hitter. When pitchers start adjusting to him, he adjusts back. I only see him getting better.

“Then you throw in that he played a heckuva center field and it’s just an impressive total package."