Texans Preview By Texans Chick

Texans Preview By Texans Chick

It isn't Sunday yet, so Eagles and Texans fans are still getting along.  As you know, I've been writing about the Eagles for AOL's NFL Fanhouse.  In doing so I've met some cool people from all over the place, including Texas.

To give Eagles fans an idea of what the Texans are all about we have a special guest.  Stephanie Stradley, who I'm convinced was from South Philly in a former life, writes the Houston Chronicle’s FanBlog: Texans and the Texans NFL Fanhouse page.   Stephanie is also a moderator on the Texans
official message board.

She even used the word y'all in her preview.  Awesome.

Stephanie's Texans preview for an Eagles Fan:

Dear Eagles Fans, 

I want to be on record as one of the people who likes Eagles
fans, mostly because y’all loathe the Cowboys just about as much as I do. 

Now, I realize that most of you have a “W” written down for the
game against the Texans, and as a public service, I would suggest that you do
that in pencil, so you can erase it if need be.

You haven’t probably read much about the Texans in the
offseason, other than people saying that they suck and are stupid for not
taking the Best Running Back Evaaaaar. So you might not know much about the changes the Texans have done on
both sides of the ball.

Former Denver
offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak is the new head coach. So far, at least in the preseason, it appears
as though the Texans are learning up the Denver
style offense pretty well. Faster than expected. Former Packers coach, Mike
Sherman has primarily been working with the mostly maligned Texans offensive
line. This is the first year that the
Texans really have anyone worth a crap working coaching the line.

Biggest question mark on offense is how quarterback David
Carr, the young running backs and the line will deal with exotic blitzes. In the preseason, the Texans have given up
the second least amount of sacks with 4 (compared with 17 for the maximum by
any team).

The Denvers-style offense is based on the philosophy that
the defense usually has the best athletes on the field. It tries to defuse that athleticism by trying
to penalize over-pursuit and keeping the defense off-balance. The Texans will
run a lot of bootlegs and dump to the tight ends and running backs. The Texans wide receivers are tall and
physical, and the question will be whether Carr will have enough confidence and
time to get them the ball.

The new defensive coordinator for the Texans is Richard
Smith, formerly of the Dolphins. He is
running an aggressive 4-3 base defense replacing last years 3-4. So, far in the preseason, the Texans have
only given up 3 points in the first quarter against first string offenses. The D line has looked really good and the
question is whether they will be good enough to help with the thinnishness in
the secondary.

The Texans special teams has been a strength of the team
because of their coach, Joe Marciano. They have always outperformed other parts of the team. Kicker Kris Brown
has had an iffy preseason but at least it hasn’t been as bad as Vanderjagt’s.

For those who want to know more than that about the Texans,
I suggest you check out this post.

The Texans have usually done well in their openers, and
Reliant Stadium is sold out and should be packed. It is an extremely loud stadium because the
fans are so close to the field because of the retractable roof.  The roof will be closed for the game. I’ve
been in the first row of a few games, and it is so loud at field level that
your ears ring afterwards.

Anyhow, last preseason the Texans played like crap and then
had the season of crap. I know you can’t
base too much off of the preseason, but at least this preseason the Texans have
looked like a real football team and less like crap. Seriously, before you ink
the W in, check out the offensive and defensive stats of the Texans, especially
the rushing yards.

In sum, what I want to say is that you should not kill or
otherwise harm yourself
if the Texans beat the Eagles.

Regards,
Steph
The Texans Chick

P.S. Oh, and please beat the crap outta Dallas.  Hopefully the Texans will do the same.

P.S.S. If you
are going to the game, show up early because the tailgating is great.  You can find me in the platinum
lot. Be sure to visit the St. Arnold’s
Brewery tailgate because their Houston-made beer is like its own food group.

Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 1

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USA Today Images

Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

The Phillies' late-May slide continued in a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.
 
Aaron Nola delivered a solid start, but got poor run support. The Phillies entered the game averaging 3.2 runs per game, lowest in the majors.
 
The Nationals scored all their runs on home runs.
 
The Phillies have lost nine of their last 11 games. They are 1-7 in their last eight and have gone from 25-19 and two games back in the NL East to 26-26 and 5½ games back.
  
Starting pitching report
Nola went six innings and allowed two runs, both on solo homers. He walked one and struck out six. He is 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA.
 
Washington right-hander Joe Ross (5-4) pitched a strong game. He gave up just three hits and a run over seven innings. He walked two and struck out five. Ross has given up just two runs over 14 innings in his last two starts.
 
Bullpen report
Jonathan Papelbon closed it out for the Nats in a non-save situation.
 
At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have been held to two or fewer runs 20 times in their 52 games.

Cesar Hernandez tripled home the Phillies' only run.

Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy accounted for the Nationals’ first two runs pair of solo homers against Nola. Danny Espinosa smacked a two-run homer off Colton Murray in the ninth and Stephen Drew followed with an inside-the-park homer.
 
Murphy also singled in the game. He had 47 hits in the month of May, tying a Washington/Montreal franchise record that had previously been shared by Al Oliver and Marquis Grissom.

Lineup stuff
Mackanin was trying to send Hernandez a message by batting him eighth (see story).
 
Bryce Harper did not play for Washington. He was hit on the right leg by a pitch in Monday night’s game.
 
Slumping Ryan Howard started at first base and went hitless in three at-bats to fall to .154. He hit .101 (7 for 69) in the month of May.
 
Howard will not start Wednesday night against Max Scherzer. He is 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against Scherzer. Tommy Joseph will start that game.
 
Minor matters
Cody Asche’s minor-league rehab stint expires Wednesday. He could rejoin the team at any time.
 
Up next
 The series concludes on Wednesday night. Lefty Adam Morgan (1-3, 6.67) pitches against Washington right-hander Scherzer (5-4, 4.05).

Drexel alum Ken Tribbett enjoys 'special' week for Union

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Drexel alum Ken Tribbett enjoys 'special' week for Union

CHESTER, Pa. — For more than a month, Union center back Ken Tribbett waited patiently on the sidelines, hoping to get the starting spot back that he had and then lost.

Last week, he indeed got back on the field … and then some.

After Joshua Yaro separated his shoulder in Orlando on Wednesday, Tribbett proceeded to notch his first MLS goal and assist, before playing the full 90 minutes in front of 30 family members in his home state of Colorado on Saturday.

It was quite the eventful week for someone who wasn’t expected to play at all during the road trip, let alone accomplish a couple of emotional milestones.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Tribbett told reporters from Tuesday’s training session after the Union returned home following hard-fought road draws vs. Orlando City SC and the Colorado Rapids. “For me, being out a month, mentally I had to make sure I stayed tuned in. And when I got my chance, I stepped in and was ready to go.”

Even if you are mentally prepared, it’s still not an easy thing to step in at center back in the middle of a game, considering that’s a position that rarely gets changed. Making things even more difficult was the fact that Yaro, who took over starting duties after Tribbett rolled his ankle in April, had been looking every bit like the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft.

“Josh was playing a great game in Orlando,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “If you go back and watch the tape, he was one of our top performers. Ken stepped in at the end of the first half, which is challenging at center back — not a position you like to sub at all. But Ken came in pretty seamlessly and got the goal, which is a bonus, obviously.”

You can call it a really big bonus.

Tribbett was never expected to even be in MLS this year after failing to get much notice following a standout career at Drexel.

And he certainly wasn’t expected to log much playing time this season with the Union, who added Yaro and Anderson, a Brazilian, to a position that already featured a rising star in Richie Marquez.

So surprises are nothing new for Tribbett, who started the first five games of the year after soaring up the depth chart in the preseason and now has a goal to add to his unlikely MLS resume.

But it’s no surprise to him.

“I don’t think shock is the right word because I expect a lot of myself and I expect to score a couple of goals this year,” Tribbett said. “So it was just more relief to get the first one out of the way. Any time you score, it’s jubilation, so that was awesome. And to tie the game in Orlando after going down 2-1 was really good for the team, so everything about it was just a special moment.”

Tribbett, who also had a secondary assist in Orlando, enjoyed another “special moment” just three days later when he got to play in the Denver area where he grew up. That was not something he could have imagined after his circuitous journey took him from Colorado to Drexel to the USL’s Harrisburg City Islanders and now to the Union.

“That was probably a moment I won’t ever forget,” Tribbett said. “I had about 20 or 30 family members there, and for a lot of them it was the first time they’ve seen me play professionally. So being back home in Colorado was a special feeling.”

Although the Union backline stayed organized and surrendered only a couple of shots on target in Colorado, Curtin did say it wasn’t the best performance from Tribbett. But the Union coach is ready to lean on him again for Wednesday’s game vs. the Columbus Crew at Talen Energy Stadium (7 p.m./TCN) while Yaro gets an MRI on his shoulder.

“He did fatigue at the end and I talked to him about it,” Curtin said of Tribbett. “He had a couple of little mistakes toward the end of the game. Part of that is your legs starting to fade. But it’s good for him that’s under his belt. He’ll be ready to go now [Wednesday] for the full 90 minutes.”

With the Union idle for two weeks following Wednesday’s game because of a Copa America layoff — and Tribbett’s place in the lineup uncertain from there — the Drexel alum is certainly excited to get back on the field for his first home game since April 8.

“It’s a very important game,” Tribbett said. “We want to go into the break with certain goals for ourselves. We want to be at the top of the conference, and if we win, we’ll achieve that goal. We want to keep one goal per game [allowed]. Right now, we’re one off that, so if we get a shutout tomorrow, we’ll be right back on track.”

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

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The Associated Press

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

Pete Mackanin dropped second baseman Cesar Hernandez to eighth in the batting order for Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals.

“If you want to call it a message you can call it a message,” Mackanin said.

Hernandez entered the game hitting .255 with a .616 OPS. Last year, he hit .272 with and .687 OPS.

“I expect more out of him,” Mackanin said. “I think he's a better hitter than he's shown. I think he's a .280 hitter and I think he's at .250. I want to see improvement. We need him to get back up to .280, where I think he belongs. He’s got to make adjustments. We need offense.”

Mackanin pointed to Hernandez’ double-play partner, shortstop Freddy Galvis, as an example of a player who has made improvements.

Galvis entered Tuesday night hitting .257 with a .696 OPS. But in the month of May, he was hitting .277 with a .708 OPS.

“Freddy is starting to come on,” Mackanin said. “He’s starting to make adjustments.”

Galvis has also played excellent defense.

The Phillies are a rebuilding club with a number of potential big-league contributors rounding out their development in the minors. The team’s top prospect is a shortstop – J.P. Crawford – and he’s in Triple A now. It’s not out of the question that he will be the team’s opening day shortstop next season.

Crawford’s eventual ascension impacts both Galvis and Hernandez. Galvis can also play second base. Whether Hernandez or Galvis becomes the second baseman when Crawford arrives could be determined by who hits. This is the time to make impressions.

“That's basically what it boils down to,” Mackanin said. “I've even talked to them about that — 'It's an important year for both of you because there are people who want to be in the big leagues that are in the minor leagues and want to take your job.' You have to approach it that way. You can't let down. You have to stay focused and work hard.”

While all signs point to Crawford taking over at shortstop in the future, Mackanin said Galvis’ defense should not be taken for granted.

“As well as Freddy is playing shortstop, you'd hate to move a guy like that out of that position,” Mackanin said. “It's a defensive position and he's been so good at it.”

Galvis entered Tuesday night with just two errors in 50 games. His .990 fielding percentage trailed only San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, both .995.