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. 

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.