Was Last Night's Game Foreshadowing?

Was Last Night's Game Foreshadowing?

I am confident that the Phillies will make the playoffs. With four games to play and the Fightins up in both the Division and the if-necessary Wild Card races, this team is playoff bound.

I also think they will still win the division. I fully expect a bounce-back victory tonight and a series win over the Nationals. Hell, let's call it a sweep. The Phillies will win the next four games and go into the playoffs having won an insane 14 of the final 16 games. There will not be a hotter team heading into October's battles.

But last night's loss is something we should not quickly forget. Here's why.

The Phillies are a streaky team, and two days ago we were all riding that streak to false bravado. Honestly, 26 hours ago I had convinced myself that the Phillies were good enough to get to the World Series. Then, who knows what can happen.

But last night opened my eyes. Didn't the game last night feel eerily similar to Cole Hamels' start in the playoffs last season against Colorado? We hoped he would shut the door last night. If there was ever a game I felt confident the Phillies would win it was Cole Hamels facing Mike Hampton. Hamels was solid. Just like last postseason, he was okay. His performance isn't why they lost the game. Solid, but not dominant.

The offense, that has been on fire lately, was shut down for most of the game. They just seemed snakebit last night. I mean, come on, Shane Victorino hit into a double play then got caught stealing. Pat Burrell ran to third on a ball that was hit right to the shortstop. It just wasn't the offense's night. They've been relying on clutch hitting and yesterday it just wasn't there. I fear that might be the case next week.

As the old saying goes, pitching wins in the playoffs. The Phillies' bats have started heating up at the right time, but it's been against the likes of Jair Jurrjens, James Parr and Joe Nelson. Not exactly Koufax and Drysdale.

And no, this year's Dodgers aren't Koufax and Drysdale either. But the Dodgers have a solid staff. The Brewers have a solid staff. The Cubs have the best starting rotation in baseball. It might be up to the pitching staff to win playoff games.

Solid is good. I'm just afraid we're going to need dominant.

Instant Replay: Astros 13, Phillies 4

Instant Replay: Astros 13, Phillies 4

BOX SCORE

The Houston Astros are one of baseball's best teams and they played like it, hanging a 13-4 beating on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.

The Astros hit two home runs against Phillies starter Vince Velasquez in the second inning. The game was delayed for one hour, 52 minutes in the top of the fourth inning and when it resumed the Astros rallied for five runs in that frame to roll to their 66th win. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers have more.

The Astros out-hit the Phillies, 18-10. And they were without star shortstop Carlos Correa (.320/20/67). He is on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his thumb. Also, All-Star outfielder George Springer (.311/27/66) left the game in the third inning with a sore quad muscle.

The Phillies are 5-5 since the All-Star break and 34-63 overall.

Starting pitching report
Velasquez was originally Houston property. He was selected by that club in the second round of the 2010 draft and pitched in the majors with Houston in 2015. He was traded to the Phillies as part of the package for Ken Giles in December of that year.

The rain limited Velasquez’s outing to three-plus innings. He gave up six hits, four runs and walked three. He is 2-6.

Houston's Brad Peacock gave up a run in three innings of work.

Bullpen report
Ricardo Pinto had a tough night. He came on after the rain delay and was tagged for seven hits and six runs in 1 1/3 inning. Three of the runs were unearned.

Joe Musgrove pitched three scoreless innings for the Astros and got the win.

At the plate
Tommy Joseph doubled home the Phillies' first run.

The Phils trailed 12-1 in the seventh inning when Nick Williams stroked a three-run triple. Williams has three triples and 18 RBIs in 72 at-bats with the big club.

Houston had eight extra-base hits.

Brian McCann and Alex Bregman hit back-to-back homers for the Astros in the second inning. Houston leads the majors with 165 homers. McCann has 22 homers in his career against the Phillies.

Jose Altuve had four hits for the Astros. He also had four hits Sunday in Baltimore. He has a 16-game hitting streak.

Houston has scored double-digit runs in 16 games this season.

Lineup stuff
Howie Kendrick did not start, although he did hit into the game-ending double play as a pinch hitter. He is expected to start on Tuesday night. Manager Pete Mackanin said the team planned to be cautious with Kendrick, who was activated Friday after being on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

Kendrick remains a possibility to be traded before next week's deadline. Reliever Pat Neshek is the Phils' top trade chip and could be dealt at any time.

Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Nick Pivetta (3-5, 5.58) pitches against Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.18).

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.