Vance Refrigerates Cubs, as Offense Rolls to Eighth Consecutive Series Win

Vance Refrigerates Cubs, as Offense Rolls to Eighth Consecutive Series Win

The Philadelphia Phillies hammered the Chicago Cubs by a final score of 9 to 1 on an oppressively hot afternoon at Wrigley. Local temperatures hovered just shy of 100-degrees for the majority of the game, while Chicago heat indexes soared into the triple digits.

The Phillies, undaunted by the sweltering heat, gave Cubs' starting pitcher Ryan Dempster far more than he could handle during the early innings. A Ryan Howard single to left and a Shane Victorino groundout into a fielder's choice scored Michael Martinez and Chase Utley, respectively, to put the visiting Phils up 2-0 after the first.

Just one inning later, the flood gates would open.
With two down in the top of the second, pitcher Vance Worley cracked a double to reach base and extend what was assumed to be a closed inning. From there, the Phillies would tack on on three more runs thanks to a Jimmy Rollins double, Michael Martinez single, Michael Martinez stolen base and a Chase Utley double.
 
After surrendering five runs on 64 pitches through only two innings, Dempster would survive just one more frame. Thankfully, the Phils took that extra inning to tag Dempster for additional run thanks to a two-out double from Brian Schneider. By the time the book was closed on Dempster, he bore responsibility for 6 earned on 7 hits via a whopping 86 pitches in just 3 innings of work.

The Phillies would later add three more on the Cubs' bullpen thanks to Chase Utley's second double of the day and two Jimmy Rollins solo shots, each one batted from a different side of the plate.

To put it in perspective, only four times in Phillies history has a batter knocked two home runs in the same game batting from the right and left. With his performance today, Jimmy Rollins is responsible for two of those four occasions, a somewhat unsurprising fact. An infinitely more surprising fact, the last Phillie to complete such a feat besides Rollins—Tomás Orlando Pérez in 2001.

The obvious leaders of the offense this afternoon, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley finished the day a combined 5-8 with 5 RBIs and 5 runs scored.

Not to be lost in their impressive shuffle, however, was the play of the rapidly-improving Michael Martinez. Since July 1st, Martinez has failed to play in just three games while filling in for the injured Placido Polanco. Over that eleven game stretch, with today's game excluded from his monthly total, Martinez is batting a hefty .297 in July, consequently raising his season average an impressive .30 points. During today's game in Chicago, Martinez reached base twice, scored twice, stole a bag and knocked in a run.

Speaking of not getting lost in the shuffle, or getting buried at the bottom of the post, Vance Worley more than held up his end of the bargain. Despite the aforementioned temperatures, Worley gave up just one hit over his first six shutout innings. Though a rough start to the seventh would see Vance load the bases with no outs and ultimately give up a run, he would work his way out of the jam thanks to a nifty save by Jimmy Rollins and a timely Jimmy to Chase to Ryan double play. His final line in the sweltering Chicago heat: 8.0 IP, 4H, 1ER, 2BB, 7K, on 111 pitches.

From there, manager Charlie Manuel would opt to turn the ball over to Ryan Madson. In his third appearance since returning from the disabled list, Mad Dog needed just eight pitches to force three pop ups to end the ninth.

We hope you enjoyed our coverage from Chicago over the past few days. For today's game, E took advantage a well-deserved day off, drank a beer or two and watched the action from the stands. In honor of his decision, and Vance Worley's gem of an outing, we leave you with this clip from the Chicago-based Ferris Bueller's Day Off:

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

BOX SCORE

For as much as the Sixers’ bigs are talked about, Richaun Holmes often is left out of the conversation. 

He’s not the centerpiece of the team like Joel Embiid nor was he heavily involved in trade talks like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. He is the backup center who bides his time on the bench and quietly stays ready when he gets the nod.

And on Friday, he was the standout player in the Sixers’ 120-112 win over the Wizards (see Instant Replay)

“He’s been sort of the person that people forget about because of the logjam of five men,” Brett Brown said. “We all sort of think, ‘Well, he should just accept it because he’s behind Joel and Nerlens and Jahlil. Good ol’ Richaun. Go to the D-League and it’s OK.’ And that doesn’t work. He’s a pro, he’s competitive. He’s handled it. He’s really been a wonderful teammate.”

Holmes was bumped up in the rotation following the trade of Noel to the Mavs. He moved into the second-unit role while Okafor started in place of the injured Embiid. 

Holmes recorded his first double-double with 12 points (6 for 9 from the field) and 10 rebounds (three offensive). He also blocked a career-high five shots, tying Embiid for the most by a Sixer this season. The second-year big man put together this impressive performance in 26 minutes off the bench (see feature highlight).

“Just play hard,” Holmes said of his approach. “Just go out there, show what you’ve been working on, play hard every second you’re out there. That’s the motto I’ve got.”

Holmes is averaging 16.1 minutes and has appeared in just 32 of the Sixers’ 57 games. This season, he also spent time with the Delaware 87ers of the Development League to get playing time. Holmes embraced an opportunity similar to Friday’s a month ago when he scored 18 points in as many minutes against the Clippers. 

“I try to approach every game this season the same way, whether everybody was playing or people were hurt,” Holmes said. “Prepare like I’m going to play 30 minutes a game. I think having that mindset helped me to stay ready at all times and be aggressive when I had a chance.”

Brown did not rule out the possibility that Holmes could start at some point if he continues this production. The Sixers are limiting Okafor to 20 to 24 minutes per game, according to Brown. That, combined with Embiid’s injury, could lend itself to an increased role for Holmes. 

“I think in that environment, it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for Richaun to get a start from time to time,” Brown said. 

Even if he remains on the second unit, Holmes proved he can provide a spark off the bench. Dario Saric noted how Holmes’ impact on both ends of the floor bolsters the frontcourt in addition to a more offensively-minded Okafor (11 points, two rebounds). 

“I think he played unbelievably good in both ways,” Saric said. “Everybody knows he’s an elite guy finishing around the rim, and he stepped in Nerlens’ place, he replaced him unbelievably good. I hope he will get the same minutes for the next game because we have Jahlil, who is more like a post-up player, who likes more to score from the low-post block, and we for sure need some guy like Richaun who will play in both ways." 

Perhaps the person least surprised by Holmes' game was Holmes himself. It was the result he puts in long hours to produce.

“It’s all about the grind,” he said. “All about keep working, keep trying to move up, keep trying to get better every second and it’ll pay off.”