If It's Gaither You Want, It's Gaither You Got & Other Notes From Game 3

If It's Gaither You Want, It's Gaither You Got & Other Notes From Game 3

The experiment appears
to be over, and the Eagles have inserted Omar Gaither back into the
starting middle linebacker job this week.  Nobody campaigned louder for
Joe Mays' opportunity than us, but with the season quickly approaching
and roughly zero positive standout moments for the second year player,
it's time to make the switch.

Hugh Douglas' description last
Thursday that Mays has played "timid" was perfect.  It's not that Mays
has been awful; he hasn't really been beaten for any huge plays. 
Actually, the problem is he's in on very few plays at all, a major departure from last
preseason where he racked up one tackle after another.  At the time, he was
playing without hesitation, simply running to where the ball is and
making the stop.  While trying to run the Eagles' true scheme though,
he's been lost even where he was thought to excel, in run support.

For what it's worth, Moise
Fokou wasn't any better.  He's had an excellent preseason, but his
trial with the first team went as expected.  Fokou was nailed for a
pair of penalties, including one that gave the Jags a first down on 3rd
and 19, and he seemed even more likely to be out of position than Mays. 
You still have to like what you see from the seventh round pick, it's
still just too raw for such a huge role.

As for Gaither, we know what the defense will get,
which is a solid contribution from a player who knows the system.  He's
not as aggressive as the coaches prefer, but he's a competent defender and
good in coverage.  I still think Mays has a ton of talent, he just
didn't make the most of his shot, and it's time to move on for the time being.

Defense

- Trent Cole is an absolute beast.  The front four is completely different with him in the game.

- Asante Samuel obviously had a great game, but Ellis Hobbs rebounded after last week's stinker as well.

-
Quintin Demps bouncing off of TE Mercedes Lewis in the open field was
way too reminiscent of last year's NFC Championship.  Dawkins brings
the big fella down.

Offense

- Kevin Kolb
looked terrible, there's no other way to slice it.  10 for 18 for 102
yards and a TD doesn't sound too bad, but it was ugly.  Twice with pressure
in his face, he backpedaled deep behind the line of scrimmage and threw the ball away, once intentionally
grounding for a safety.  On successive plays, he overthrew then
underthrew his receiver, and several times targeted covered receivers,
including the touchdown throw that just barely threaded the needle. 
Maybe we should get more of Vick the QB next week and less Vick the
gimmick.

- Eldra Buckley is always the first man down the field
in kick coverage and is a pretty good tackler for a running back.  Next
week is probably the end of Lorenzo Booker.

- Props to the wide
receivers, particularly Jackson and Avant who combined for 9 catches
and 139 yards.  Maclin added another 4 for 53, indicating he's coming
along nicely.  Through three games, you have to wonder if Kevin Curtis
has much of a role in this offense by the end of the year.

- On McCoy's TD run, Celek sealed the edge nicely, allowing the runner to bounce the play outside for an easy six.

-
Once the Eagles quit all that trick stuff, the whole offense seemed to
get into a rhythm, including the O-line.  There are still question
marks though.  Peters seems to get fooled every time the defenders
stunt, and almost got McNabb killed again on a play the DE attacked inside.  Peters inexplicably followed him into no man's land, leaving McCoy on the edge to block two blitzers. 
Cole continues to look sloppy, especially bad news with the announcement Herremans
will be out for awhile longer than expected.  And while
Justice has improved greatly, he's still not much of a run blocker at all and
makes his share of mistakes.

At least Shawn Andrews finally returned to
practice
, and could play as soon as Thursday.

- Overall, the Eagles are going to
be fine, in large part due to their defense.  Patt and Bunk continue to
hold up the line of scrimmage, which is a big key to their success. 
They have playmakers in Cole, Samuel, and Mikell, and solid contributors
Brown, Gocong, and Gaither.

The offense might start off
inconsistent as the line continues to gel, but suddenly their Week 4
bye looks like a blessing as it will give them more time to prepare
for the brutal stretch of NFC East opponents.  You would like to see them manhandle a team
like the Jags a bit more, but under the circumstances (Vick) and
accounting for a few fluke plays, this wasn't bad for a preseason game.

Temple basketball names Chris Clark assistant coach

ap-chris-clark.jpg
AP

Temple basketball names Chris Clark assistant coach

Chris Clark is back with the Owls.

The former Temple guard and team video coordinator was named an assistant coach to Fran Dunphy’s staff on Wednesday night.

“We are happy to have Chris Clark rejoin our staff,” Dunphy said in a release by the school. “He knows our system as a player and as a staff member last year. He also has extensive coaching experience, serving as an assistant at three different D-I programs. Chris has been successful at every stop in his career, and we look forward to having him back in the fold.”

Clark, a Philadelphia native, played for the Owls from 2004-08 and was a standout sixth man his senior season, helping lead Temple to a 21-13 record and Atlantic 10 conference championship. During the 2015-16 season, he served the Owls as their video coordinator. He left the program in April to join Drexel’s staff as an assistant.

“I am truly excited to be able to return to Temple as an assistant coach on Fran Dunphy’s staff,” Clark said. “Last season was special working at my alma mater as the video coordinator, but to now serve as an assistant is truly an honor. With that said, I want to thank Drexel head coach Zach Spiker for the opportunity to work on his staff, and his understanding through this process. I enjoyed my short time there and wish the program continued success.”

Jerad Eickhoff pitches well in beating White Sox, but why the quick hook?

Jerad Eickhoff pitches well in beating White Sox, but why the quick hook?

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — From the season-ending injuries to Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin to the on-the-mound struggles of Vince Velasquez and Jake Thompson, the Phillies have had some unwelcomed issues with their prized young starting pitchers recently.
 
Jerad Eickhoff has been a most pleasant exception.
 
The 26-year-old right-hander delivered six innings of two-run ball in leading the Phillies to a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay).
 
Eickhoff came to the Phillies organization in July 2015 as part of the trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas. He rose to the majors a year ago this week and has now made 34 starts at the game’s highest level. His performance has been pretty encouraging as he has racked up a 3.57 ERA in 206 2/3 innings, basically a full season of work.
 
“He's been the guy who has been the most consistent,” said manager Pete Mackanin, referring to the team’s group of young starters. “He's given us what we wanted. He's had some hiccups, but I expect him to pitch well every time he goes out. I feel confident in him.”
 
At 6-4, 250 pounds, Eickhoff has a workhorse body. He is the only Phillies’ starter to remain healthy this season and the club clearly wants him to stay that way, both for the remainder of the season and the future.
 
That was the explanation that Eickhoff received in the dugout from Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure when he was removed from Wednesday night’s game after just six innings. Eickhoff had a 4-2 lead at the time and had thrown just 71 pitches thanks to his cruising through the first five innings on one hit.
 
“A little bit, yeah,” said the pitcher when asked if he was surprised by the quick hook. “But once Mac and Pete made it clear what was going on, it’s a no-brainer. It’s part of the game. I was just happy to get through it and be done and be healthy.
 
“What they said is they want me to make every start this year and be healthy. You can’t complain about that. I’m very lucky and very fortunate to be healthy this year.”
 
So the Phillies are managing Eickhoff's workload. Makes sense with this being a rebuilding season.

But Mackanin had a different explanation for his decision to remove Eickhoff. The pitcher gave up a two-run home run in the sixth inning as his problems in that inning (12.32 ERA as opposed to 2.64 in the first five) continued. Mackanin said he yanked Eickhoff because he wanted to make sure that nothing “snowballed” on the pitcher and he left the game with a good vibe.
 
“He pitched well,” Mackanin said. “I got him out of there after the sixth because I wanted him out on a positive note. He's been struggling in the sixth inning and after that, so I didn't want him going back out there. We have three guys I have confidence in in (Edubray) Ramos, (Hector) Neris and (Jeanmar) Gomez, so it worked out for us.”
 
Mackanin was asked whether the Phillies have Eickhoff on an innings limit. He is up to 155 2/3 innings. He threw 184 1/3 innings last season.
 
“No, no, not at all,” Mackanin said. “I don't know how many pitches he threw. Did he even have 80 pitches? I wanted him out on a positive note. We won, so I guess I made the right move. That's how it works, right?”
 
Ramos, Neris and Gomez protected the lead, though Gomez walked a tightrope and gave up a run in garnering his 34th save.
 
Neris allowed a leadoff walk in the eighth then got three quick outs. Since the All-Star break, he has pitched 18 1/3 innings and given up just one run. He has walked two and struck out 26. Pretty good.
 
After being outscored 18-1 in their previous two games against the White Sox and Cardinals, the Phillies’ bats finally produced some timely hitting. Tommy Joseph had a double, his 17th homer and scored two runs. Aaron Altherr had a pair of RBI singles and scored a run. Freddy Galvis doubled home a run and Cesar Hernandez homered.
 
Joseph’s homer in the top of the sixth against James Shields gave the Phils a 4-0 lead. Eickhoff hasn’t had many of those.
 
“He gets no run support,” Joseph said. “To be able to do that for him is huge.”
 
Eickhoff gave up three hits, including a two-run homer to Dioner Navarro in the bottom of the sixth, but he did limit the damage and got out of the inning with the lead. His handling of adversity in that inning was encouraging but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the game.
 
Mackanin said he wanted Eickhoff to go home with a good feeling.
 
Eickhoff said the team was looking out for his health.
 
Whatever the real reason was, they both made sense in a rebuilding season.

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez sets K's mark, helps Marlins snap Royals' win streak

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez sets K's mark, helps Marlins snap Royals' win streak

MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez pitched seven innings and appeared to avoid a serious injury when he tweaked his right leg on his final pitch Wednesday night, helping the Miami Marlins beat Kansas City 3-0 to snap the Royals' nine-game winning streak.

Fernandez (13-7) pulled up after striking out Christian Colon to end the seventh, and rubbed his right knee before limping to the dugout.

The Marlins pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the seventh, and no injury was announced. Fernandez was laughing with teammates in the dugout in the ninth inning and joined in the postgame celebration on the field.

His nine strikeouts increased his season total to 213, breaking the Marlins record of 209 set by Ryan Dempster in 2000. Fernandez ended a career-worst three-game losing streak.

He also had the Marlins' first two hits, hiking his average to .286, and improved to 27-2 at Marlins Park.

Fernando Rodney pitched around two singles and walk for his 25th save and eighth with Miami.

Dillon Gee (5-7) took the loss (see full recap).

Cardinals tag deGrom in win over Mets
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty homered off Mets starter Jacob deGrom, powering the St. Louis Cardinals past New York 8-1 Wednesday night.

Carpenter set the tone, hitting a leadoff home run in the first inning. The Cardinals went on to win for the seventh time in nine games.

Piscotty and Yadier Molina each had three of the Cardinals' season high-tying 19 hits.

Carlos Martinez (12-7) gave up one run and four hits over eight innings. He also got two hits himself.

Roughed up for the second straight start, deGrom (7-7) allowed five runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He was tagged for a career-worst eight runs and 13 hits in his previous outing against San Francisco (see full recap).

Rays overcome Ortiz's 30th HR in comeback win
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Ortiz hit his 30th home run in the first inning, but the Tampa Bay Rays came back from a three-run deficit to beat Boston 4-3 in 11 innings Wednesday night and prevent the Red Sox from taking sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Luke Maile doubled with two out in the 11th and scored after Red Sox pitcher Heath Hembree (4-1) dropped a throw to first base on Kevin Kiermaier's grounder.

Brad Boxberger (2-0) got the win after one inning of relief.

Boston has won 10 of its last 13 games and remained tied in first with Toronto after the Blue Jays lost 8-2 to the Angels.

Bidding to become the majors' first 18-game winner, Rick Porcello allowed Evan Longoria's tying homer in the eighth before leaving with 7 2/3 innings pitched. It was Longoria's 30th homer (see full recap).