J-Roll Stirs the Phillies to Third Straight Victory Over Rockies

J-Roll Stirs the Phillies to Third Straight Victory Over Rockies

There was plenty of action in the first six innings of baseball, and the scoreboard said the Rockies bettered the Phillies 3-2 at that point, but after a one hour and thirty-nine minute rain delay Phillies fans had seemingly forgotten what had happened up to that point.

Ryan Madson came out to pitch after the lengthy delay in a spot he isn't typically used in. After back-to-back singles to start things off, Madson got Carlos Gonzalez down swinging, then drilled Melvin Mora in the back to load the bases. Madson struck out Ryan Spilborgh's on a nasty 96 mph heater right down the middle for the second out, and got Ian Steward to pop out to right to get out of the jam. Madson's tapdance with disaster but ability to eventually avoid it was quite Lidge-esque, but it gave the Phillies some hope heading into their final three at bats trailing by only a run.

Wilson Valdez led off the bottom half of the seventh with a pinch hit ground rule double and was batted in by Jimmy Rollins who singled to left and advanced to second on a kicked ball. Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco couldn't advance Rollins, Jimmy stole the bag during Howard's at bat which ended with the Big Piece working a walk to set the table for Jayson Werth who hadn't had a hit with 2 outs and a runner in scoring position since the middle of May. Werth failed to deliver but it didn't matter as Jimmy Rollins made a heads up play to score on a ball that got away from catcher Miguel Olivo putting the Phillies up 4-3.

Jimmy's RBI single in the seventh, steal of third, and subsequent go-ahead score on a ball that got away is the kind of aggressive play that this team was missing during its extended funk over the past few weeks. J-Roll was certainly making things happen on Sunday. It's no surprise the game ended in a Phillies victory.

The Phillies have that never-out-of-a-game attitude, a swagger even, and Jimmy Rollins presence is a huge part it.

Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero teamed up for a clean 1-2-3 top of the eighth and Brad Lidge pitched like Brad Lidge. Strikout, walk, strikeout, single, and a walk to load the bases. As L.A. said on the radio broadcast, it doesn't matter how you get to it, as long as you get the third out in a scoreless ninth.

We guess, but it'd be nice if Lidge didn't make us sweat so damn much. It's hot enough out here.

Phillies beat the Rockies by a final of 4-3 and will look to make it a cool four game sweep tomorrow afternoon in a Business Persons Special.

With T.J. McConnell, Hawks say Sixers have 'identity' worth respecting

With T.J. McConnell, Hawks say Sixers have 'identity' worth respecting

ATLANTA – The final score was a little lopsided and the game was sloppy at times, but after beating Philadelphia, 110-93, Saturday night, the Hawks said they see promise in the rising young Sixers.

The Sixers didn’t have the legs on the tail end of back-to-back games to keep up with another hot team, and Joel Embiid did not play, as Atlanta (26-18) won for the 11th time in 13 games to move within a half game of Boston for the No. 3 spot in the East.

Yet if not for the Sixers' 21 turnovers and a second quarter where Atlanta seemed to make every shot, the Sixers (15-27) looked enough like the team that had won eight of 10 games before arriving in Philips Arena that the Hawks see differences.

The biggest change in the Sixers between Saturday and the first two meetings of the season between these two teams — one played with Embiid and one without — is T.J. McConnell starting at point guard rather than Sergio Rodriguez.

McConnell had a game-high 11 assists against the Hawks in addition to his eight points, and the Sixers had 27 assists on a night where they hit 12 of 29 three-pointers.

“They have an identity,” said Atlanta forward Kent Bazemore, who scored 16. “McConnell is playing really well, putting pressure on the defense and their floor spacing is very good. Very disciplined group.

“Guys are in the right spots, if a guy drives, they have a plethora of options: a guy in the corner, a guy on the jumper, a guy on the wing. They kept us honest for a chunk of the game.”

Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points on 15 shots and Robert Covington added 15 points and 10 rebounds, but the Sixers were gassed in the second quarter, as the Hawks hit 16 of 23 shots in a 37-point period.

Atlanta stretched a 62-54 halftime lead to 18 points late in the third quarter, but the Sixers cut the deficit to 94-87 with 6:46 left in the game on a pair of free throws by rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.

The Sixers whipped the Hawks, 20-11, in fast break points.

“They were getting some threes in transition,” said Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer, who was on the Spurs' staff for years with Sixers head coach Brett Brown. “Right now, they’re pushing the pace.

“T.J. McConnell does a great job of getting outlets, getting up the court and finding shooters quickly and they’re letting it fly. Covington and Ilyasova and those guys are collapsing us early and shooting early threes.”

The Sixers had problems on the boards in Atlanta, where Dwight Howard grabbed 15 and Paul Millsap added 10 as the Hawks built a 48-38 rebounding edge. Those numbers were every bit as important as Millsap’s 21 points and the 13 added by Howard.

That disparity on the boards and the Sixers' collective loose handle did in the visitors. Atlanta scored 17 points off the Sixers’ 21 turnovers.

Embiid was scheduled to rest Saturday anyway. It’s unclear whether he’ll play Tuesday against the Clippers, who will be without guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin, or Wednesday at Milwaukee.

Embiid suffered a knee contusion in Friday night’s 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers and Brown said he’d be further evaluated Sunday.

Get him back in the mix, and The Sixers have a shot at starting another winning streak.

“We did a good shot of holding them to one shot,” Howard said after the Hawks outscored the Sixers, 14-0, in second-chance points. “They play really hard. They play aggressive. They play good team basketball. They share the ball and find the open man. They have a good group of young guys.

“It wasn’t as easy as people expect out of Philly teams. You have to respect them.”

Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

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Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former major leaguer Andy Marte died in separate traffic accidents early Sunday in their native Dominican Republic.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. It was not clear if Ventura was driving.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Ventura, 25, burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.

He went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts, though the Royals would ultimately lose in seven games.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played for several Major League teams, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, and was most recently playing in the Korean league.

Both were playing in the Dominican winter league with the Aguilas Cibaenas team.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte that was issued before Ventura's death became known.