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March 2014

Phillies Fall to Blue Jays Once More

Yesterday's start to the Phillies 2014 Spring Training round of games was cut short by a sudden rainfall. Before today's game, also against the Toronto Blue Jays, rain once again threatened to ruin the ball game. However, things did get started in time. After a 4-3 loss in seven innings yesterday, the Phillies were hungry for revenge looking to continue working on their mechanics. Leading them in the game was Cliff Lee, making his first start of the Spring. Up against Lee for the Blue Jays was knuckleball specialist and former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. The Phillies had seen Dickey a number of times during his stint with the New York Mets.

The Game: Much like it did yesterday, the scoring got off to a quick start. Ben Revere started the game off with his second single in as many days. After Freddy Galvis flew out, Bobby Abreu successfully reached base when shortstop Jose Reyes made a throwing error. Darin Ruf walked next to load the bases. While Maikel Franco was batting, a passed ball allowed each runner to move up a base and brought home the first run. Franco would walk, but a Kevin Frandsen strikeout and a Cody Asche ground out ended the scoring opportunity. 1-0 Phillies.

Again much like yesterday, the early lead did not hold. Cliff Lee threw just three pitches to the first three batters. Jose Reyes flew out, but Moises Sierra and Jose Bautista each doubled to tie the game at 1 a side. 

Scoring would resume in the third inning, when Bobby Abreu led off with a walk. Darin Ruf stepped up and recorded his first home run of the season, a two-run shot into left field. Move the score to 3-1 Phillies, until the bottom of the inning. Moises Sierra would reach first when Maikel Franco failed to make the catch at first base, his second error of the Spring. It would prove costly when another Jose Bautista double scored Sierra, making it 3-2 Philadelphia.

Jake Diekman would come on to replace Brad Lincoln in the fourth. A lead off Brett Lawrie single was followed by a Melky Cabrera fielder's choice. Maicer Izturis also singled, putting two runners on. After former Phillie Erik Kratz flew out, both Kenny Wilson and Jose Reyes singled to bring in two consecutive runs, giving the Blue Jays a 4-3 advantage. 

The fifth inning would see Toronto record another three runs. Ethan Martin was summoned, and immediately allowed Bautista to walk. Edwin Encarnicion singled next. A Brett Lawrie doubled secured the first run, while the second two came home on a Melky Cabrera double. 7-3 Blue Jays.

A solo homerun into left field with two away by John Mayberry Jr. inched the Philies closer. 7-4 Blue Jays. They'd score again in the eighth inning against former Phillie Rob Rasmussen. Franco would get on because of an error. Reid Brignac reached on a one out walk, and Kelly Dugan loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch. Catcher Tommy Joseph grounded to first, but when the throw bounced off the bag, each runner safely moved up and the Phillies had their fifth run. A Tyson Gillied double play lineout ended the threat, but the score now stood at 7-5.

B.J. Rosenberg completed the seventh and eighth innings for the Phillies without allowing a run. The top of the ninth saw no offense from the Phillies, and the score finished at 7-5 Toronto.

Other Phillies pitchers making appearances today included Mike Stutes and Mario Hollands. 

Some notable offensive performances:
Ben Revere: 3-4, 1 R
Freddy Galvis: 0-4, 1 K
Bobby Abreu: 0-2, 2 BB
Darin Ruf: 1-3, 1 HR, 1 BB
John Mayberry Jr.: 2-3, 1 HR

Impact: Not much, as will be the case for the next month. At the risk of sounding repetitive, you can't use the first two games of Spring Training as a measurement of how the season will go. If there is anything you want to take away from the contest, know that Maikel Franco now has two errors, one at third and the other at first. Personally, I don't see it as a concern just yet. However, if it is to become a pattern, it may raise some eyebrows.

Up Next: The Phillies return to Bright House Field against the Detroit Tigers. While the Tigers have yet to announce their starting pitcher, Kyle Kendrick will take the bump at 1:05 for the Phillies.

Andrew Gillen, a writer for


Game Preview: Back from break, Flyers host Sharks


Claude Giroux and the Flyers scored four third-period goals in a 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 3. (Photo Courtesy of

The last time we left the Philadelphia Flyers, they had closed out a four-game winning streak at home against the Calgary Flames. The four-game streak also included a meeting with the San Jose Sharks on a West Coast road trip. A four-goal third period helped the Flyers rally for a 5-2 win over the Sharks that night.

That makes Thursday night's return to action a revenge game for the Sharks. The 37-16-6 Sharks face the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center for the first time since Dec. 8, 2010. The opening face-off commences at 7 p.m.

Continue reading "Game Preview: Back from break, Flyers host Sharks" »

Jason Kelce: There's Nowhere Else I'd Rather Be

Jason KelceEagles center Jason Kelce made it clear Thursday in signing a seven-year contract that keeps him in Philadelphia through the year 2020 that he values being a part of the team's culture. 

Jason Kelce admits that he wears sweatpants and t-shirts every day, so it shouldn't be surprising that the 26-year old didn't think twice about inking a seven-year contract extension with the Eagles Thursday. 

Kelce, who has played in just 34 games for the team thus far in his career, will now anchor the Eagles offensive line through the 2020 season and be paid handsomely to do so, to the tune of $37.5 million, with $13 million guaranteed which places him squarely amongst the top five starting centers in the NFL. 

Continue reading "Jason Kelce: There's Nowhere Else I'd Rather Be" »

Eagles' Riley Cooper Approves of NFL Racial Slur Penalty

Riley Cooper 1Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper said Thursday that the NFL's rule to penalize the use of racial slurs on the field is a "good rule." 

Riley Cooper, newly signed by the Philadelphia Eagles through the 2018 season thanks to a five-year extension with the team signed on Thursday, says he agrees with the NFL's pursuit of a rule that would penalize players 15 yards for using racial slurs on the field. 

"It's a good rule," Cooper said bluntly when asked Thursday if he agrees with the league's proposed 15-yard penalty that could take effect as early as this season. 

Continue reading "Eagles' Riley Cooper Approves of NFL Racial Slur Penalty" »

2014 Draft Eligibles: Julius Honka's move to North America has been worthwhile


Swift Current Broncos defenseman Julius Honka is top NHL prospect for the 2014 Draft. (Photo c/o Yahoo Sports)

All-European born players have a decision to make if they want to play in the NHL. It’s the question of when to come over to North America. Some players stay in Europe until they’re NHL ready, while others wait until their draft year.

Finnish defenseman Julius Honka, who many consider a top 20 prospect for the draft, knew which route he wanted to choose.

Continue reading "2014 Draft Eligibles: Julius Honka's move to North America has been worthwhile" »

Eagles Extension With Riley Cooper Is Also Commitment to Nick Foles

Riley Cooper Nick FolesRiley Cooper and Nick Foles are likely to be celebrating Eagles touchdowns together for years to come after the team signed the fourth-year receiver to a five-year extension Thursday. (Image courtesy of Fox Sports)

Howie Roseman and the Eagles front office have clearly been burning the candle at both ends in recent days tying up loose ends with their own impending free agents before legal tampering can begin next Friday and the market open on March 11th. 

The fruits of that labor has been massive extensions with Jason Peters, Riley Cooper and Jason Kelce. Peters' deal runs through 2018 meaning he will likely retire an Eagle, Cooper is signed through 2019 and Kelce will be the Birds' center through 2020.

However, it is Cooper's deal that has much more significant undertones as to the direction of the offense and the franchise moving forward.

Continue reading "Eagles Extension With Riley Cooper Is Also Commitment to Nick Foles" »

Eagles Lock Up Cooper, Kelce; Is Maclin Next?

022614_cooper-kelce_600Riley Cooper and Jason Kelce signed long-term deals to stay in Philadelphia (Image Courtesy of

As sources told Eagledelphia last night, Riley Cooper and the Eagles were close to agreeing on a five-year deal. Today, the wide receiver and team agreed on a 25 million dollar deal that will keep Cooper in Philadelphia for the next five years.

Continue reading "Eagles Lock Up Cooper, Kelce; Is Maclin Next?" »

Michael Raffl, The Sparkplug


(picture via

 The play of Michael Raffl has been a surprising revelation for most Flyers fans so far this season. Entering the year as an unproven undrafted free agent who played in the second level of Swedish pro hockey last year, not much was expected from him. The Flyers, however, saw things differently than the fan base and gave him Simon Gagne’s #12 and he stayed with the team for much of training camp (likely at the expense of Gagne’s potential roster spot). Through 46 games, Raffl has recorded 7 goals and 11 assists while playing in nearly every situation imaginable. He jump-started Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek on the top line for a while and didn’t look out of place while doing so. He’s currently stabilizing the fourth line with Zac Rinaldo and Adam Hall. He’s also had stints on the second and third lines, and currently leads the Flyers in points per 60 minutes at even strength despite all the changes. 

Continue reading "Michael Raffl, The Sparkplug" »

Cliff Lee Makes First Start of 2014 As Phillies Take On R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays in Dunedin

1922884_759668002791_736335245_n(Photo: Frank Klose/

The Phillies fell to the Blue Jays yesterday in a rain-shortened spring training opener. Although the game ended early, the Phillies looked more good than bad. Roberto Hernandez was hit hard, giving up two earned in two innings pitched. Ryan Howard, Marlon Byrd, and Ronny Cedeno all had RBI's, but it wasn't enough as the Blue Jays held the 4-3 lead until a 7th inning downpour occurred - thus ending the game early. Hopefully the weather is not so harsh today and the entire game can be played.

Today, Cliff Lee (2013: 14-8, 2.87 ERA) will make his first start this season as the Phillies travel five miles north to Dunedin, Florida to take on the Blue Jays yet again. Cliff Lee had a bounce back season in 2013, getting back to his dominant form. Making 31 starts, Lee owned a 1.01 WHIP and led the majors in BB/9 with 1.3 and K/BB ratio with a 6.90 rating. Lee looks to lead this Phillies team to a postseason appearance (would be the first since 2011) as he gets his first licks in this year. Scheduled to pitch after Lee this afteroon are B.J. Rosenberg, Mario Hollands and Mike Stutes.

On the mound for Toronto will be R.A. Dickey (2013: 14-13, 4.21 ERA), who is beginning his second full season with the Blue Jays. The 39-year-old knuckleballer had a dismal season in 2013 after his remarkable 2012 Cy Young winning season, allowing 105 ER, 35 HR, and 71 BB in 224 2/3 innings of work. Dickey is looking to find his 2012 form again this season as well as helping the Blue Jays, who have made improvments as a team overall over the past few years. Esmil Rogers and Dustin McGowan are scheduled to pitch for the Jays after Dickey this afternoon.

Game Notes:

  • Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was scheduled to pitch this afternoon, but was pushed back to Saturday due to illness.
  • Cliff Lee is 3-5 with a 3.87 ERA in his spring training career as a Phillie. Overall, he is 7-12 with a 6.07 ERA.
  • These two teams won't meet again until March 4th at Bright House Field.

Today's Lineups:

Phillies lineup:

  1. Ben Revere CF
  2. Freddy Galvis SS
  3. Bobby Abreu DH
  4. Darin Ruf LF
  5. Maikel Franco 1B
  6. Kevin Frandsen 2B
  7. Cody Asche 3B
  8. John Mayberry Jr. RF
  9. Wil Nieves C

Cliff Lee will start today's game for Philadelphia.

Blue Jays lineup:

  1. Jose Reyes SS
  2. Moises Sierra RF
  3. Jose Bautista DH
  4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B
  5. Brett Lawrie 3B
  6. Melky Cabrera LF
  7. Maicer Izturis 2B
  8. Erik Kratz C
  9. Kenny Wilson CF

R.A. Dickey will start today's game for Toronto.

First Pitch: 1:05 PM ET
Location: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin, Florida
Weather: 60° - Few Showers - 30% Precip
TV: MLB Network

Erik Seybold is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.

After Loss To Magic, Sixers Go Winless in February


After a loss to the NBA-worst Bucks on Monday, the Sixers had one last chance to get a win in February, playing host to the Magic, who are also in rebuild mode. The game featured two Rookie of the Year Candidates in Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo. Unfortunately, Carter-Williams struggled to find his game all night as the Sixers lost their 12th straight game, 101-90.  The teams were tied after three quarters, but the Magic took control in the fourth to help snap their 16-game road losing streak.

The first quarter showed the teams getting a feel for each other, both trading shots throughout. The Sixers took the early lead behind Henry Sims, who had four points and three rebounds in just over six minutes played in the first. The Sixers took an early six point lead, 13-7, after a James Anderson three-pointer but the Magic answered with an 8-0 run to take the lead. The teams stood deadlocked at 15 a piece and the Sixers edged ahead thanks to a few made free throws from Tony Wroten. After one the Sixers were leading the Magic, 22-19, despite shooting 29.2% from the floor. Then again, the Magic only shot 31.8%.

The Sixers shot better in the second quarter but still could not find a way to extend the lead by much. With 6:01 to go in the half, the Sixers led 36-33 and then both teams went scoreless for over two-and-a-half minutes before James Anderson connected with Thaddeus Young for an alley-oop, putting the Sixers up by five. Philadelphia extended their lead to seven after a James Anderson layup, but the Magic came back to cut the lead to four at half. Neither team scored a point in the final 47 seconds of the half, with the Sixers ahead 44-40. 

Hollis Thompson of the Sixers came out shooting in the third, draining two shots from three-point range, extending the Sixers lead to eight. That would not last for long as the Magic scored 11 straight points to take the lead, 51-50. A shot by former Sixer Nik Vucevic made the score 61-56 Magic with just over five minutes to go in the third. The Magic pulled away to a seven point lead before the Sixers came back to tie things at 67 at the end of three. 

The Sixers were outshot in the final quarter, as the Magic's hot shooting was too much to handle. Orlando shot 66.7% from the floor in the final stanza and went 5-for-8 from three-point range. Former St. Joe's standout Jameer Nelson sealed the Magix victory with 12 points in the fourth. Thaddeus Young went just 2-for-8.

The Sixers could never quite pull away from Orlando, despite holding leads as large as eight. They were outrebounded by the Magic 55-42 and struggled mightily from beyond the arc. Thad led all Sixers scorers with 19 (7-18FG) while Tony Wroten scored 15 off the bench. Newly-acquired Eric Maynor also had a strong night off of the bench, tallying 13 points (5-6FG), four rebounds and two assists. Michael Carter-Williams couldn't find his game, shooting 3-for-13 from the floor for eight points. MCW also grabbed six boards and dished out four assists. The Sixers starting backcourt, between MCW and James Anderson, were a combined 6-for-24. Big-man Byron Mullens had another rough night, shooting 3-for-11.

On the other side, the Magic were led by Nik Vucevic, who scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. You bet the Sixers would have liked him to be a part of their rebuild process. Rookie Victor Oladipo also got himself a double-double, with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Jameer Nelson, another Orlando player with a double-double, contributed with 16 points and 12 assists.

Up next, the Sixers welcome the Washington Wizards to town on Saturday, March 1st. Tip-off is set for 7:30PM.  The Wizards have taken two out of three from the Sixers this season.

Brandon Apter is a contributor to Sixerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @ApterShock