It was a magical day for Cole Hamels. It wasn't magical in the sense that his 2008 postseason was magical. Nope. On this day he pitched a mediocre game, allowing an early run, finding a groove, and finally giving up a meatball to the seats in left to the light-hitting Yorvit Torrealba. Cole's day was done after five innings with the Phillies down four. Then it got strange as Cole left the park immediately to tend to his wife Heidi who went into labor with the couple's first child and Charlie Manuel got starter-happy.
Some fans in the LIVE CHAT were upset with Cole's performance, claiming he shouldn't have been starting in the first place given the possibility of his wife delivering a child. I don't agree with those people. Cole pitched decent enough and unfortunately made that one bad mistake against Torrealba. Instead of tearing the guy down, let him enjoy the amazing experience of having a kid and get on him if he doesn't rebound from a shaky start. That is if he gets that opportunity.
The other situation fans had issue with was Charlie bringing in Blanton and Happ when they could be starting game three. Just because they pitched today doesn't rule them out from a game three start. Although Happ's banged up leg could keep him out of action. Their outings today could be comparable to an off day work out.
After the game, Charlie seemed to point to Blanton or Pedro to throw on Saturday night.
It was a bizarre use of the arms available to him. With Hamels, Blanton, Happ, Myers, and Bastardo all seeing action, that made five pitchers pitching in one game who all started at least five games for the Phillies this season. Pretty strange.
Eyre, Bastardo, and Madson pitched rather impressively out of the pen and gave the bats a fighting chance. And fight they did. They got the tying run all the way to second base in the bottom of the ninth but failed to get him in. Given how the events of the day transpired to that point, it was quite an exciting finish despite the loss.
Just when you think a decision to bring Cairo into the postseason instead of Eric Bruntlett, you find Cliff Lee pinch running in the ninth. Playoff baseball is goofy like that.
The Phillies lost. It wasn't a great game for the Phils but it could have been a lot worse. The question now clearly becomes who will take the ball first for the Phillies on Saturday?
The Sixers will get Joel Embiid back in the lineup when they meet the Bucks on Monday afternoon in Milwaukee, but they'll be without their starting point guard.
T.J. McConnell will miss Monday's game with a sprained right wrist suffered in Saturday night's loss to the Wizards in D.C.
McConnell reportedly did not travel with the team to Milwaukee and is back home in Philadelphia.
The 24-year-old McConnell has been a presence this season for a Sixers team that desperately needed something from the point guard spot. In 38 games this season, McConnell has averaged 4.8 points, 5.8 points and 4.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists a night in an average of 22.3 minutes a game.
The highlight of McConnell's season, of course, came last week when he nailed the game-winning shot at the buzzer to give the Sixers a 98-97 victory over the Knicks.
Sergio Rodriguez is expected to start in McConnell's place Monday against the Bucks.
Traveling to Milwaukee means a return to where Ersan Ilyasova began his NBA career.
Twelve years later, it also means a return to his family when the Sixers visit the Bucks on Monday afternoon at the Bradley Center.
Ilyasova planted roots in Milwaukee during his seven seasons with the Bucks, who drafted him in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft. Though he has played for four teams since the Bucks traded him to the Pistons in the summer of 2015, Ilyasova has maintained a home base in the city he adopted after coming to the NBA from Europe.
“I kind of grew up there,” he said. “It’s a lot of time spent.”
Ilyasova’s lengthy tenure with his first team - which doesn’t always happen in the NBA - afforded him and his family the time to make Milwaukee their home.
His wife and three young children (daughters ages eight and five years old and son age three years old) have remained there while Ilyasova has moved around the league frequently. He has been a member of the Pistons, Magic, Thunder and Sixers in a matter of two seasons.
“It’s a huge thing,” Ilyasova said. “I haven’t seen the girls for two months now - a lot of Skype and FaceTime. I see my son, he flies back and forth with my wife.”
The Sixers flew to Milwaukee on Sunday from Washington, D.C. after Saturday night's loss to the Wizards at the Verizon Center. Ilyasova planned to stay at his house and catch up on the time he has missed while being away from his family. This includes missed time during the holidays while the team was on a west coast road trip.
“It’s always really exciting,” Ilyasova said. “They’re counting the days when I will come. They’re all excited to come to the game.”
Another highlight of being back in Milwaukee? A home-cooked meal.
“They’re already preparing it,” Ilyasova said. “It’s duck with apples in it.”