Flyers Pick up Slack for Injured Teammates, Casually Rout Capitals

Flyers Pick up Slack for Injured Teammates, Casually Rout Capitals

From deflections to well-placed screens to a general lack of preparedness from not one, but two Capitals goalies, the Flyers proved on Tuesday night that good things do indeed happen when you put the puck on net.

Five different Flyers—Hartnell, Bourdon, Simmonds, Talbot and Voracek—found themselves on the score sheet, while goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was plenty solid when called upon, backstopping a 5-1 victory for the team's sixth-straight win.

Even without captain Chris Pronger, league point leader Claude Giroux and the rest of the their missing cast of characters, the Flyers showed, as Matt pointed out in the game thread, that they're still "every bit a team that should be expected to be in every game they play." Against the still-struggling Caps, they were far more than just "in" the game.

game summary, assorted notes and highlights below...

Game Summary:
Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun was shaky from the start, frequently scrambling and looking badly out of position. And, even when he was square to the shooter, he wasn't always attentive. Take, for example, a simple wrist shot from the top of the left hand circle that caught Vokoun totally off-guard and with his five hole wide open. The goal, the 200th of Scott Hartnell's career, put the Flyers ahead 1-0 by the end of the first.

The third period played out in largely unremarkable fashion, with both the Caps and the Flyers netting one a piece. For the Orange & Black, Jake Voracek would beat Capitals backup Michal Neurvirth on yet another deflection, just managing to keep his stick under the crossbar to prevent the goal from being called back after a review from the War Room in Toronto.

Notes:
--Hartnell's career 200th makes it six straight games for the winger with a goal. Not the strongest skater, but, man, what a shot (Is that goal regulation size or what?).

--Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he before the game that he has been looking to increase Jakub Voracek's ice time, but hadn't found the right time. With Giroux out the lineup, he finally found the opportunity. Voracek led all Flyers forwards in ice time in the first period and played a total 17:18 on Tuesday night.

--While we're on the subject, Matt Carle led all skaters with a registered 25:27 TOI. He was up over ten minutes after just the first period.

--Braydon Coburn turned in a particularly strong performance, leading all skaters with four hits and assisting on Talbot's goal (as seen above). Always nice to see a strong night from Coby. He sometimes has a style where his most effective nights are when he's the least noticeable, and where his most noticeable nights are when he's the least effective. Guy gets a tough rap sometimes. Good to see him stand out in a positive manner.

--Largely held in the check for the entirety of the evening, superstar Alexander Ovechkin was given little time and even less space. Though his 2011-2012 struggles continue, it's worth noting that Ovechkin is quickly becoming one the great modern Flyer killers. In 24 games against Philadelphia, Ovechkin has a filthy 37 points on 22 goals and 15 assists. For reference, those numbers are more than just slightly ahead of the pace set by Claude Giroux's league-leading 39 points in 28 games this season.

--Jaromir Jagr was treated to litany of boos from the crowd at the Verizon Center nearly every time he touched the puck. Though his time in Washington was somewhat unremarkable despite better than a point-per-game average, the backlash was actually a little surprising and funny.

Upcoming Schedule:
The Flyers will be back at in Montreal on Thursday night. After their meeting with the Habs, they will host the Bruins on Saturday before playing their next five straight on the road. They will return home for, you guessed it, the Winter Classic on January 2nd. Speaking of which, don't forget that HBO's 24/7 Flyers-Rangers series premieres tomorrow night at 10 p.m.

Full Highlights:

Pete Mackanin unloads on Phillies' bullpen after latest collapse

Pete Mackanin unloads on Phillies' bullpen after latest collapse

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies’ bullpen continued its ugly, late-season collapse on Tuesday night. It was tagged for six runs in a 7-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves rallied for the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the eighth inning (see Instant Replay).
 
The loss came two days after the bullpen gave up 14 earned runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday and it left manager Pete Mackanin more than a little bit frustrated.
 
“The bullpen has just not been doing the job,” Mackanin said.
 
Jerad Eickhoff gave up just one run (on a solo homer by Freddie Freeman) over four walk-free innings to open the game. He was up 6-1 after four innings when the rains came and stopped the game for an hour and 53 minutes.
 
With Eickhoff bounced by the weather, Mackanin had to go to his bullpen. He used four relievers — Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez and David Hernandez — and all gave up runs.
 
Phillies relievers have pitched 77 1/3 innings this month and allowed 69 earned runs for an ERA of 8.03. So that’s one more thing Matt Klentak has to fix this winter, along with the offense that Mackanin wants to see addressed (see story).
 
Ultimately, Hernandez took the loss when he gave up three hits and a run in the bottom of the eighth. The other run in the inning was charged to Rodriguez.
 
As unbelievable as it may sound with rosters being expanded in September, the Phillies played this game shorthanded.
 
They did not have reliever Edubray Ramos. He had a sore elbow, Mackanin said.
 
They did not have outfielder Peter Bourjos, who had gone home to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
 
They also did not have outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who is out with a concussion.
 
Not having Bourjos or Goeddel forced Mackanin to use Darin Ruf in left field after Roman Quinn went out with an oblique injury in the sixth inning. Ruf failed to make a catch on a long fly ball by Tyler Flowers to the gap in left-center. The non-play extended the eighth inning and fueled the Braves’ comeback.
 
“It should have been caught,” Mackanin said. “If Quinn's out there, he catches it. He wasn't out there.”
 
Hernandez was the only free agent that the Phillies signed to a major-league contract this winter. The Phillies signed him with an eye toward using him as the closer. But Hernandez struggled much of the season and slipped into the middle innings while Ramos, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez rose to high-leverage roles.
 
Gomez lost the closer’s job last week and Mackanin was saving Neris to close out this game. That meant Hernandez had to pitch the eighth. He couldn’t protect the lead. He gave up the game-tying hit to Mallex Smith and the go-ahead hit to Emilio Bonafacio.
 
“Neris was going to close for us,” Mackanin said. “I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That's unheard of.”
 
The bullpen’s unraveling threw cold (rain) water on Eickhoff’s solid start and Ryan Howard’s big night. Howard belted his 24th homer, a grand slam in the first inning, to highlight a 14-hit attack and help the Phils jump to a 6-0 lead.
 
“Eickhoff looked like he was having one of his best games and then the rain came. So that was our first disappointment,” Mackanin said. "Other than that, Howie swung the bat great. Hit that grand slam. We got 14 hits, but we stranded 12 runners. We have to keep adding on.”
 
Quinn had three of the Phillies’ 14 hits then added to his collection of injuries with the oblique strain that bounced him from the game in the sixth. He hurt himself taking a swing.
 
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.
 
“It looks like it,” Mackanin said when asked if Quinn was done for what remains of the season.
 
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.
 
“It’s the same one I hurt before,” Quinn said. “It’s frustrating.”
 
Right now, just about everything is frustrating with this team. Good thing there are only five games left.

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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).