Kendrick Owns, Dom Homers, Bullpen Doesn't Ruin Everything in 6-2 Phils Win

Kendrick Owns, Dom Homers, Bullpen Doesn't Ruin Everything in 6-2 Phils Win

There was a point in the season when you felt pretty safe with the Phils leading 6-2 in the ninth inning, but that point certainly hasn't been in the last week, with the Phils choking away leads in five of their last seven games, including a stunning four Jonathan Paplebon blown saves after previously going perfect in save situations for the year. Tonight, however, Papelbon was excused from duty, and though things got a little hairy with ninth-inning man Antonio Bastardo, the Phils escaped without any real damage, securing the four-run win--their largest victory in nearly three weeks, sadly.

The much-maligned Philly bullpen--which was set back even further today with news of the possibly season-long loss of Mike Adams--was mostly let off the hook tonight, thanks to a stellar outing from Kyle Kendrick. After a rough outing two starts ago in Colorado, where he was rocked for seven runs (including two homers) in four and a third, Kendrick appears to have re-discovered the groove that has made this a career year for him, and after a two-run second inning for KK--which was arguably as much about the plays Michael Young and Domonic Brown failed to make in the field as anything Kyle did wrong--he cruised, lasting eight strong innings, striking out six, walking no one and not letting in any further runs. Getting three outs without letting four runs cross isn't nothing for this year's Philly bullpen, but the less we have to ask them to do, the better.

Of course, our pitching did get an all-too-rare assist from our offense tonight, as Dom Brown's homer drought--a season-high 14 games before tonight--finally came to an end on a 2-0 hanger in the third inning, which Dom crushed as a no-doubter to right-center in the third, collecting his 20th longball of the year and putting the Phillies up 3-2. The Phils added to the lead with a couple hits, a couple walks and a wild pitch in the fifth, and that was more than enough to sustain the win. (The seven walks on the game also ties a team-high for the season, so, uh, good eye, guys.)

Series closes tomorrow, with Cole Hamels going against Robbie Erlin, making his second start in the pros. Phils really should be going for the sweep, but will undoubtedly settle for the 2-1 series win, and if Cole can't get it against the Padres and ol' "R. Erlin," it will not bode particularly well for things to come.

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

ap-cj-sapong-union.jpg
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."