Phillies Get That Pesky 10,000th Loss Out of The Way

Phillies Get That Pesky 10,000th Loss Out of The Way


Sure, the 10,000 loss mark is a testament to the Phillies futility over the last dozen or so decades, but really it just points out that the Phillies are a really, really old franchise.

The Phillies finally got the stupid 10,000th loss out of the way tonight on ESPN, getting shelled by the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-2.  The Cards got the ball out of the park SIX times.  The Phillies  bats were absolutely on fire in the first two games of the series, putting up 23 runs, but failed to get anything going this evening.  Perhaps the only highlight of the evening for us Philly fans was when our gem got a few moments in the national spotlight.  Harry Kalas joined Joe Morgan and Jon Miller in the ESPN booth and his smooth voice gave you that feeling of, "he's our guy and we're lucky to have him."

I don't like how the fans at CBP tonight were cheering when the Phillies lost.  You don't do that.  I do however love the fact that Utley did all he could to prolong the Phillies from losing.

As I've pointed out in the past, if there is anything to "celebrate" with this milestone, we should give ourselves a little pat on the back for being a Phillies fan and maybe pour one out for those who came before us.  Bill Lyons stepped back into his writer's chair on the day the Phillies hit 10,000 to get his thoughts out on the faithful Phillies fans.

Has there ever lived a creature to rival the Phillies fan? Harder to
discourage than a sidewalk weed. Always coming back for more. Go ahead,
load up and take another shot. We endure, we persevere, we do not
discourage.

The 10,000th loss was one typical of this current Phillies squad.  Adam Eaton pitched the kind of performance we've come to almost expect out of him.  His outing highlighted the ramshackle starting rotation this year's Phillies are working with in their pursuit of a post season birth. 

<a href="http://ballhype.com/story/phillies_finally_reach_10_000th_loss/">Ballhype - Phillies Finally Reach 10,000th Loss</a>
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Can this Phillies squad get over that "5 games" hump?

Probably not.  But I'll see you at the ballpark to watch it unfold.

>>Faithful to a fault [Inquirer]

Sixers frustrate Raptors, finding 'defensive identity'

Sixers frustrate Raptors, finding 'defensive identity'

The Toronto Raptors were the latest victims of the red-hot Sixers on Wednesday.

The Sixers held the highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference to more than 20 points below their average in a 94-89 win at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

The visiting Raptors were visibly and vocally frustrated after the game.

"They're a good team, they've been playing well, no disrespect to them, but we missed a lot of wide-open shots," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Those are shots we normally make but we knew we had our hands full coming in here. We knew it was gonna be a grind-it-out game."

Blaming it on bad luck and missing "wide open shots" seems to be oversimplifying it just a tad. Toronto was held to 39.5 percent from the field and went just 6 of 24 from three.

A big factor in slowing down the Raptors is containing the dangerous backcourt duo of DeMar DeRozan and Villanova product Kyle Lowry. DeRozan finished with 25 points, below his average of 28.2, which was in the top five in the league coming in.

Lowry was even more frustrated by the Sixers' swarming defense. He finished with 24 points but on just 5 of 13 from the field. He also committed five turnovers, picked up a technical foul and fouled out in the final seconds. When asked what the Sixers did to slow him down, Lowry wasn't buying into the hype.

"I think we got everything we wanted," Lowry said. "We got every shot we wanted. We just didn't convert it.

"They won the game. Give them credit. They played with passion and energy. That's one thing they got us on tonight."

You don't win seven out of nine games and take down the second-best team in the conference with sheer will. The Sixers have become a strong team on the defensive end of the floor.

They're currently 10th in the NBA in defensive rating. A big part of that has been the emergence of Joel Embiid as an elite rim protector. For as great as "The Process" has been offensively, his largest impact is really on the defensive end.

He wasn't the only rookie engaged on defense Wednesday night. Dario Saric came through with consecutive blocks of Norman Powell and Jared Sullinger in the early fourth quarter, denying the Raptors a chance to cut into the Sixers' lead (see video).

"Dario never blocks shots and he had two in a row," Embiid said. "Especially at the rim like that, blocking Sullinger, that’s the type of play we need. The crowd obviously got into. I’m just glad he’s here with us like he promised he was going to be after two years."

Taking the torch from Saric, Embiid's block on a Lowry drive with 22.9 seconds left sealed arguably the Sixers' biggest win of the season, moments after Covington rejected a Lowry three (see video).

"One thing I care about is defense," Embiid said. "Everybody around me has to follow my lead because I am the last line of defense. One thing I care about in my career is winning Defensive Player of the Year. These guys know they can go for steals, and make stops, since I am the last guy there to block the shot.

"I don’t think it’s a fluke. We’re competing, playing great defense, winning games, and we found what we’re looking for. Everybody was trying to find themselves, and we all still have a lot to learn. We have some great players that are coming together."

Prior to the game, Casey had some lofty praise for the rookie big man. He compared Embiid to a former Rookie of the Year and 2016 inductee into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Shaquille O'Neal.

He walked away from this game even more impressed.

"He's a very talented player," Casey said of Embiid after the game. "He made a difference at the rim. Challenging shots. Offensively, he's different because if you go out on him too quick, he's gonna drive by your big. His ability to attack the rim and shoot the three, his post play. And again, he's becoming a better passer so he's gonna be a handful. We know that."

Like any season, there are going to be ups and downs. For the Sixers it's been mostly downs for three straight years. This recent run has breathed new life into this franchise and this fan base.

Embiid's ascension into a legitimate superstar has been a huge help. Dario Saric coming from overseas to provide his grit, skill and basketball IQ has been key. T.J. McConnell's promotion to the starting lineup and the additions of veterans like Ersan Ilyasova and Gerald Henderson have steadied the ship.

But as Brett Brown has said many times, the Sixers bread is buttered on the defensive end of the floor.

"I get very excited and proud of our group when they hear me talk so much about defensive identity," Brown said. "You know, who are we? How are you going to build a program? How are you going to grow the program? Words are cheap. I think results are real. And lately, they're buying in and executing our defensive game plan and they're playing with a tremendous spirit and togetherness, they really get into playing defense. That is beyond exciting for me."

Watch: Nik Stauskas sings 10-9-8-76ers song after win over Raptors

Watch: Nik Stauskas sings 10-9-8-76ers song after win over Raptors

The Sixers have been enjoying their anthem quite a bit lately.

After taking down the Raptors on Wednesday night, 94-89, the Sixers have now won seven of their last nine games. That's pretty crazy considering they won just 10 times out of the entire 82-game season in 2015-16.

So the Sixers and their fans are soaking up this victorious stretch — as they should.

Nik Stauskas was especially doing that while heading to the locker room with a win over the Eastern Conference's second-best team. It looks like "Sauce" loves the 10-9-8-76ers jam, played after each victory.

Per CSN's John Clark ...

If you're not familiar with the song, check it out here. It's really catchy and you'll have it stuck in your head following one listen.