The Phillies lost again last night, their third in a row and their second in a row to the lowly interstate rival Pirates, who can take the season series with a win tonight. It was a depressing L, due somewhat predictably to an offensive production outage--one easily blamed on the fact that half the starting lineup was out (three injured guys plus a night-off Victorino), but one no easier to watch for the explanation. The Phils are now five games out of first and are likely looking forward to the All-Star Break as much as anyone.
Guaranteed to be lost in the shuffle of last night's blahdom with the bats was yet another superlative start from one Jamie Moyer, who is quickly becoming one of the nice stories of an otherwise muck-mired first half of the 2010 season. Jamie let up two runs (one earned, though the other his own fault as a fielder) in six innings, and likely could have gone scoreless altogether if not for a couple of accidentally-effective swinging bunts in the fourth. But most impressively, Jamie set a season high for strikeouts with eight, just one start after fanning seven Blue Jays back at CBP.
Noting that Jamie's generally non-overpowering stuff does not often lend itself to high K numbers, it got us to thinking--how long has it been since Jamie struck out seven or more guys in consecutive starts?
If you had told me he hadn't done it before while he'd been with the Phils, I doubt I would have been terribly surprised--I can barely remember one game in his tenure in the Red and White where Jamie sent that many opposing players back to their dugout, let alone two in a row. But man, while I was thumbing through his game logs, I figured he must've done it in the year or two before that, or at least at some point during his halcyon days in Seattle.
Mais non--one must travel a full seventeen years, all the way back to his days as a 30-year-old pup in the Baltimore Orioles' rotation, to find the last time Jamie reached the lucky seven in back-to-back outings. Facing the Seattle Mariners on August 18th, Moyer K'd eight in an 8-1 win, and six days later, he punched out seven against the then-California Angels, both in winning performances. Since then, Shaquille O'Neal has played his entire NBA career, six Leprechaun movies have been released, and Green Day has gone from singing about masturbating on their couch to producing their own Broadway musical. So if you don't think the Ageless Wonder is just getting started, I really don't know what to tell ya.
Thus endeth your weekly "Jamie Moyer is awesome and can probably beat up your dad" reminder. Expect several more before the season is up.
It really felt like we could've gotten this one. The Denver Nuggets are hardly pushovers, but they came into this one a 7-13 team that'd lost their last three games, and even last night they seemed fairly beatable, even for a Philadelphia 76ers team still missing Robert Covington (in additional to our usual mini-roster of absentees). But Philly's energy sagged in the third quarter as Denver caught a second wind, and they spent the final frame hitting shots that the Sixers couldn't answer. Final score: Nuggets 106, 76ers 98.
The most sobering part of the loss was that Joel Embiid finally played what would best be described as "a bad game." Not that bad, of course — even at his worst, Joel still managed 16 points and notched career-high five blocks. But he only shot 5-15 from the field, turned ball over three times, grabbed just four boards and played a large part in the sinkhole offense that the Sixers played in the late third and early fourth that ultimately cost them this one. JoJo still has trouble reading double teams and knowing when not to attack into traffic, and his frustration was extremely evident as he kept trying to do too much and paying the price for it.
Nonetheless, even with an off Embiid night and a still-slumping Sauce — officially down to Left in the Car Overnight temperature after a night of 4 points on 1-7 shooting in 35 minutes — Philly probably still coulda gotten this one. Sergio Rodriguez appears to have swiped Nik's swag at least temporarily, with a season-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting to go with seven dimes and three steals, while Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also poured in 17 and 8 each, and the Nuggets wings were largely kept quiet for two and a half quarters. But even while struggling, the Nuggets paraded their way to free-throw line — 34 FTAs for the night, including 12 for Danilo Gallinari alone — and once they caught fire late, the Sixers just couldn't keep up.
A bummer for a team that's now lost seven in a row, and has to face the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis — their fourth game in five nights, and the first of a three-game road trip — without Embiid and also without Jahlil Okafor, out with illness. Even with the Grizz missing their own big names (no Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph or Vince Carter lately) and likely suffering from fatigue of their own after a double-OT road win last night in New Orleans, the 4-17 Sixers are gonna have a tough go matching Memphis' grit and grind tonight. Anytime you feel like Supermanning in and saving the day now would be cool, Nerlens Noel. Just sayin'.
Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.
The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.
“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."
Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries.
He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.