Wigginton's 6 RBI Power Another Hamels Win

Wigginton's 6 RBI Power Another Hamels Win

The only downside to Memorial Day Weekend is that moment you realize it's almost over and you start taking inventory on whether did enough or relaxed enough, no matter how much of either you crammed in. First you're ecstatic that the three-day summer kickoff is coming, then it's in full swing, and before you know it, you're telling people it feels like Sunday and isn't it weird Game Of Thrones isn't on while fighting off the thought that you'll be at work tomorrow before giving yourself that hey at least it's a four-day work week pep talk. Well, whether your long awesome weekend met its end on a beach, in traffic hell, on a couch, or in a backyard over a fire, at least the Phillies softened the landing with an 8-4 win to start a three-game set with the Mets. Right?
Cole Hamels notched his Major League-leading eighth win of the season with a fine eight-inning effort, and Ty Wigginton put in a career afternoon, knocking in six runs. Hamels was charged with each of the Mets' four runs despite allowing only seven hits and one walk. Twice the Phillies had two-run leads only to have the Mets catch up, each time on a home run. Neither the heat nor the pair of longballs got to Hamels though, and Wigginton made sure he had enough run support. 
More on that below, if you missed or want to relive it. 
The Phils grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning after Mets starter Jonathon Niese got Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco out, then walked Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, who was batting cleanup. Wigginton then got the team's first hit of the day, doubling to right. Great to see the offense wait out a pitcher who had started to struggle, letting him throw balls until he served up a meatball. 
Hamels was punished for walking Lucas Duda in the fifth when Vinny Rottino followed it up with a homer to tie the game at 2. Cole answered with back-to-back strikeouts before getting Niese to ground out and end the inning. The offense immediately got the lead back for him, with Wigginton taking one of his two BBs on the day before John Mayberry Jr BLASTED one to left. The Phils were up 4-2 despite it being only their second hit of the afternoon. 
In the bottom of the sixth, Scott Hairston homered in Kirk Nieuwenhuis to knot the game again. And, in the next frame, the Phils once again regained the lead with Wigginton at the plate. With Bobby Parnell now on the mound, JRoll started the inning with a single for the Phils' third hit. Polly grounded out but moved him over (more on that below), Pence walked, and Shane sac'd Jimmy over to third. Parnell was throwing straight heat, but Wigginton waited for a fat pitch and roped it to center, plating Rollins. 
Cole had a 1-2-3 seventh, then got the Phils' only hit in the eighth (nice to see Jon Rauch keep all his clothes on this time around) before rewarding Charlie Manuel for letting him come back out and face the top of the Mets' order. He allowed a double to pinch-hitter Andres Torres, who got to third on a groundout by Nieuwenhaus. Daniel Murphy grounded out to Galvis, who continues to be outstanding at second base, and David Wright brought his league-leading batting average to the plate. Cole battled him into ground out to third, a tough play handled well by Polanco to end the inning without letting the Mets tie again. 
Then it was Manny Acosta's turn be in Ty Wigginton's highlight reel. Acosta allowed a pair of singles before striking out Victorino, and Wigginton put out to left center, RUINING Jonathan Papelbon's save opportunity. 
Papelbon was already warmed up though, and he had to wait through a pitching change, so Charlie sent him out anyway. 5-8 got the Mets to go down 1-2-3, and it was all barbecue sauce for the visitors. 
NotesAfter the aptly named Justin Turner turned his ankle when caught in a third inning rundown [video here], David Wright had to move over to shortstop in the fourth inning. Turner was himself a fill-in at SS, with Ronny Cedeno already hurt. Wright's inexperience at the position did come into play later, when Polanco grounded to the pitcher, who turned and threw it to Wright as he ran to cover second. It would have been a very close play, but Wright was well in front the bag and never tagged it before throwing to get Polly out at first. Can't see the base, can ya Russ? (Debby Wong, US Presswire)
Wigginton would knock Rollins in after he'd advanced to third, giving the Phils a 5-4 lead. Had it not been for Wigginton's homer in the ninth, that run might have stood up as the winner. Wright also had a throwing error, but that was in the first inning, before he made the move to short. 
He was also 0-4 on the day, plummeting his average to .373. Everyone point and laugh at David Wright!
Chooch, who is third only to Wright and Melky Cabrera in NL batting average, had to sit the afternoon out, scratched with a tight right hammy. You just rest up, Most Valuable Panamanian. 
Hairston has Cole's number. Check out these career stats against him
Reuben Frank pointed out that Cole hadn't allowed more than three earned runs since September of 2011, dating back 14 starts, and Brian Schneider also caught him that day. Not going to hang anything on Schneider though, especially the day after he caught Kyle Kendrick's shutout. 
With the Braves losing their eighth in a row, the Phillies are no longer in sole possession of last place in the East. Both clubs are four games back. 
It was a great day for watching baseball, as well as remembering why many of us had the day off today. Spending time with friends and family, relaxing, or yes, even working, are all great ways to respect the ultimate sacrifice of so many US servicemen and women. Thank you to our fallen soldiers, the families they've left behind, and to those currently serving. 

End to End: Who will Flyers protect, lose in expansion draft?

End to End: Who will Flyers protect, lose in expansion draft?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

The topic: The expansion draft, who to protect and best guesses at Vegas' selection.

Dougherty
We have and will continue to discuss in detail the entry draft, but we haven't talked much about the June 21 expansion draft. That's what we're doing today.

The expansion draft will affect the Flyers' plans this summer because they will be losing a player to Vegas, but the impact will be a minimum. They will not lose any core pieces.

How the expansion draft works: Teams have two options in protecting players. They can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. The expectation is the Flyers will protect seven forwards, three D-men and a goalie.

There are six forwards and two defensemen who are obvious protections: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula, Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas. Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny are exempt.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will have decisions to make on who the seventh forward and third defenseman he protects. Then there is the goalie protection.

That leaves forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Nick Cousins, Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Jordan Weal and Dale Weise; and defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning.

Losing any of those six forwards would not be major blows to the Flyers. Now on the blue line, it gets interesting. My prediction is that the Flyers will choose to protect Manning with the hope Vegas takes MacDonald's contract.

Probably isn't going to happen.

Of the goalies, I don't think Vegas will have any interest in Anthony Stolarz, especially since he tore his right MCL in April. So that should cut the question here. That would mean the Flyers protect Michal Neuvirth, whom they signed to a two-year extension.

So what is my best guess at who Vegas plucks from the Flyers?

I think it will be a toss-up between Laughton and Raffl. I suspect the Flyers will re-sign Weal before the draft and then protect him, or have a verbal understanding they'll sign him after the expansion draft. Both parties appeared interested in him coming back.

My pick? Let's go with Laughton, a former first-round pick who turns 23 on Tuesday.

Laughton hasn't panned out as the Flyers hoped. He spent last season in Lehigh Valley and both Leier and Weal earned call-ups over him. I think that is a telling sign here.

So I'm predicting Laughton going to Vegas, where a change of scenery helps him out and the Golden Knights get a young forward that can slot into a third- or fourth-line role and still has upside.

Hall
There's a lot to the expansion draft — tons of possibilities and things can still change before June 21 that could impact the Flyers' decisions.

Albeit unlikely, Steve Mason could re-sign, which would obviously affect the Flyers' protection plan at goalie. Assuming that doesn't happen, I think the Flyers protect Neuvirth, especially considering Stolarz's health is in question this offseason and he may not be the true goalie of the future. Stolarz is also a pending restricted free agent, so he'll have to receive his qualifying offer from the Flyers before the expansion draft.

Now, let's say the Flyers go with the seven-forward, three-defensemen approach.

The blueliners are pretty clear: Gostisbehere and Gudas will be protected, as it comes down to MacDonald and Manning. I feel the organization thinks a bit more of MacDonald and his versatility compared to Manning, whose two-year deal last summer was likely strategic on the Flyers' part in planning for this expansion draft.

As for the forwards, Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Schenn, Filppula and Couturier are staying put. I believe Weal will be re-signed and protected.

Ultimately, I could see Raffl being Vegas' choice. At 28 years old, he's not super young or inexperienced, but also not old by any means, and the winger can play all four lines because of a well-rounded game that complements different styles.

Raffl's injuries last season (abdominal, knee) may cause red flags. At the same time, the Golden Knights should be intrigued by the two seasons prior in which Raffl played all 82 games of 2015-16 (and was a plus-9) after scoring a career-high 21 goals in 2014-15.

A loss of Raffl wouldn't be ideal, but not as damaging given the Flyers appear to be gaining more depth and youth at forward.

Paone
June 21's expansion draft will be the biggest wild card of the NHL summer. And that's not just some corny pun because it involves an expansion team from Vegas.

It'll be the first piece of player movement during the offseason, coming before the entry draft and free agency. But since it will be the first piece of player movement of the offseason, it will help mold how the Flyers and the rest of the teams around the league approach their summers.

None of the Flyers' "big guns" will be on the move and my gut tells me the Flyers will be protecting Neuvirth as they want him to shoulder the starting load this coming season.

We don't know exactly what Vegas is looking for in the expansion draft because general manager George McPhee is keeping that close to the vest. But if I'm the Golden Knights' GM, youth is at the top of my wish list.

That leaves three Flyers to stick out in my mind — Weal (25), Cousins (turns 24 in June) and Laughton (turns 23 on Tuesday).

After the sparkplug Weal was down the stretch with eight goals and four assists in 23 games, the Flyers should reach a new deal with the UFA and keep him in Philadelphia.

That leaves Cousins and Laughton.

My instinct tells me Vegas will gamble (sorry, still getting used to this whole Vegas having a team thing) on Laughton, a former first-round pick.

There's a reason he was a first-rounder in 2012. The guy can play, even if he hasn't shown it consistently in Philadelphia. But remember he's been yanked back and forth between the AHL and NHL on numerous occasions and when he's been with the big club, he's either been in the press box as a scratch or been tossed back and forth between center and wing. That constant instability in both level and position can be detrimental to a young player. Vegas would give Laughton a fresh start, a fresh home and some fresh stability.

Plus, I know there are only so many protections to go around, but Cousins is a guy the Flyers should want to keep around. Just 16 points (six points, 10 assists) in 60 games isn't good enough offensively, but not many Flyers were great offensively last season. Everyone needs to be better there. But Cousins has that pest intangible that can be so effective, especially in the rugged Metropolitan Division, where basically every game is a rivalry game. It's a good quality to have.

Phillies-Reds 5 things: Skidding Phils take on veteran Bronson Arroyo

Phillies-Reds 5 things: Skidding Phils take on veteran Bronson Arroyo

Phillies (16-30) vs. Reds (23-24)
4:05 p.m. on TCN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Tim Adleman and the Reds shut down the Phillies in Friday night's series opener, dealing the Phillies a 5-2 defeat. It was the Phillies' 21st loss in 26 games (see full story).

Jerad Eickhoff takes the ball for the Phillies on Saturday, trying to get both the team and his own season back on track. Veteran Bronson Arroyo takes the start for the Reds.

Here are five things to know for the game:

1. Worst in baseball
The loss on Friday paired with the Marlins' win over the Angels gave the Phillies sole possession of the worst record in baseball. 

The loss to the Reds was enough to make manager Pete Mackanin call a team meeting with the Phillies hitting a definitive low at 16-30. The 2016 squad didn't fall 14 games under .500 for the first time until Sept. 2. The Phillies are 5-18 in May and have scored 86 runs compared to 131 by opponents. 

Many of the games recently haven't even been close. Six of the losses this month were by at least five runs. The team brought the tying run to the plate on Friday, but it was behind 5-0 and had just one hit going into the ninth. 

The offense has gone silent in the last six games, scoring no more than two runs each time out. In five of their last six, the Phillies have faced a starter with an ERA above 5.00 who proceeded to throw at least five innings and give up one run or fewer. Adleman was the latest to victimize the Phils (see story).

The bright side? The upcoming schedule is much more palatable for the squad. After the Reds, the Phillies face the Marlins, Giants and Braves for 10 games. Those three teams have a combined record of 57-85 this year and the Phillies went 5-0 against the Marlins and Braves in April.

2. 10th time's the charm?
Nine starts into his second full MLB season, Eickhoff hasn't found the right stuff ... or a win. In 51 2/3 innings, he's 0-5 with 4.70 ERA. 

Why the slow start? First off, Eickhoff had some control issues. He's gone from a more than palatable 1.9 to a less stellar 3.1 walks per nine innings. Beyond dishing out free passes, he has a 1.43 WHIP, up from 1.16 last season. Still, his 3.77 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) indicates he shouldn't have struggled quite this much. 

Looking further into the numbers, Eickhoff has allowed more infield and bunt hits this season than he did on a rate basis last year. He's induced less weak contact, which could be part of his issue. Still, he's thrown 300 MLB innings over 50 starts and has a 3.66 ERA. It's hard to believe his true talent level isn't closer to his 3.65 ERA over 197 1/3 innings last year than his out-of-character 4.70 mark this season.

He faced the Reds just once before, taking a loss in the Phillies' second game of the year. It seems a while ago now, but Eickhoff started the year with three quality starts, including a two-run, six-strikeout game over 6 2/3 in Cincinnati. The Reds' batters have four extra-base hits against him and he's allowed home runs to Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett. Gennett's HR came as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

3. Arroyo back in action
You're forgiven if you didn't think Arroyo was still in baseball. He was injured and didn't pitch in either the 2015 or 2016 season. Despite being a non-entity on the field, he was still traded twice, going from the Diamondbacks to the Braves to the Dodgers, who immediately released him. 

At 40 years old, Arroyo is easily hittable now. The right-hander never threw very hard but now tops out at 87 mph, averaging 83-84 with his fastball. Like many soft-tossers, he constantly uses his off-speed stuff. He's heavily reliant on his curveball and slider, both of which are in the 70s. 

Hitters against Arroyo have been home run happy with 15 dingers this year over just 46 2/3 innings. Those 2.9 HR per nine innings are near three times as many as Eickhoff, who has struggled with the long ball at times over the past few seasons. The 15 home runs play a large part in his 6.75 ERA as batters hit plenty of flyballs vs. Arroyo. It doesn't help that he has a 1.479 WHIP. 

Among current Phillies, only Freddy Galvis (1 for 7) and Andres Blanco (1 for 3) have faced him. His career against the Phillies dates all the way back to three starts in 2000. Over 14 games (13 starts), he's 4-7 with a 5.14 ERA in 77 innings against the Phils. He's just the second starter after Bartolo Colon to pitch at Citizens Bank Park this season that also faced the Phillies at Veterans Stadium.

Arroyo is fourth among active pitchers in starts and fifth in innings pitched. 

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Moved into the leadoff spot on Friday, Odubel Herrera put together a few strong at-bats, finally coming through with a hit in the ninth inning to snap an 0-for-13 stretch.

Reds: Scott Schebler hit his 14th home run of the season off Aaron Nola in the second inning Friday. In just his third season, Schebler had just 12 homers in his career before 2017.

5. This and that
• Howie Kendrick made his third rehab appearance in Triple A Lehigh Valley Friday, going 1 for 4. He played all nine innings in left field. The IronPigs won, 5-4, with Nick Williams hitting a home run. Williams, J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro each had two-hit nights.

• The Phillies haven't won a season series vs. the Reds since 2012 (10-18 since the start of 2013). However, the Reds are 16-30 at CBP and haven't won a series in Philadelphia since Aug. 2006.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, on April 18 this year, Arroyo became the first Reds pitcher older than 40 to win a start since Boom-Boom Beck beat the Phillies, 8-1, on May 31, 1945.

• The Reds are the only team in baseball with four hitters (Votto, Schebler, Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall) who have at least 10 home runs.