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February 2018
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After 15-2 loss, Gabe Kapler guarantees Phillies playoff berth

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

I'm thinking commenting in a post-game press conference that your team will make the postseason after losing 15-2 to the Atlanta Braves Saturday might be a tad bit too soon.

But that's exactly what Phillies manager Gabe Kapler did on Saturday night, asked by reporters what his reasoning on some of the decisions he made in just his third game as a major league manager.

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Phillies lose game, series amid pitching woes

By Theo DeRosa, Sports Talk Philly staff 

Final: Braves 15, Phillies 2

ATLANTA — Gabe Kapler stood on the mound, waiting. 

The Phillies' manager, a veteran skipper of not quite 21 innings, had just pulled scuffling starter Vince Velasquez and called for left-handed reliever Hoby Milner in the bottom of the third inning of the Phils' series finale in Atlanta. But Milner, who hadn't even been throwing from the bullpen mound, was unprepared. Kapler kept waiting for him.

Braves manager Brian Snitker, incensed by Kapler's prolonged presence on the field, confronted second-base umpire Jerry Lane. For the second time in three games, Snitker was tossed. Lane and the umpiring crew, dismayed by the wait, limited the amount of Milner's warm-up pitches.

All the chaos of the scene may have been a distraction from a night where Phillies pitching took its early-season inconsistencies to new heights, or perhaps new lows. Velasquez couldn't finish the third inning, in which the Braves scored four runs. Atlanta iced the game and the season's first series with another big inning in the sixth.

The Braves pulled away to a 15-2 win, but not before the Phillies turned to utility man Pedro Florimón on the mound in the eighth. Florimón gave up a two-run homer for the last Atlanta runs of the series.

WP: Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 3.38 ERA)  ❖  LP:  Vince Velasquez (0-1, 10.50 ERA)

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Woj: Embiid could return in two weeks following surgery Saturday


By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

We already knew the extent of the Joel Embiid injury, the fractured orbital bone, and how long he could be out for the Sixers. 

The original prognosis for the injury suffered against the Knicks on Wednesday was for 2 to 4 weeks.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers center underwent surgery on Saturday to repair the bone, and could be available to play again in two weeks, depending on the pain threshold.

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Phillies eye 1st opening series win since 2011 in rubber match

SunTrust Park opened exactly one year ago, as the Atlanta Braves faced the New York Yankees in an exhibition game on March 31, 2017. The Philadelphia Phillies are 6-5 at the venue, which replaced the Braves' former home of 20 seasons, Turner Field (Thomas Cizauskas/Flickr Creative Commons).

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Having split the first two games of the season, the Philadelphia Phillies (1-1) and Atlanta Braves (1-1) will face off in the opening series finale Saturday evening at SunTrust Park. Right-handers Vince Velasquez and Brandon McCarthy receive the starting nods, as both pitchers make their respective season-opening and SunTrust Park debuts.

The Phillies captured their first win of the season in a back-and-forth, 11-inning affair late Friday evening. Like Opening Day, Rhys Hoskins produced the game's first run — a home run to left. Fellow slugger Carlos Santana picked up his first RBI as a Phillie in the third with a sacrifice fly to right. A pair of ex-Phillies helped tie the game at two in the third, with a RBI double by Ryan Flaherty and sacrifice fly RBI by Ender Inciarte. Dansby Swanson lifted the Braves on top an inning later with a RBI single, however Santana and Nick Williams returned the favor in the fifth and sixth with a home run and RBI single, respectively. The game evened once again in the eighth with a Preston Tucker RBI single and would remain tied until the 11th, when Santana produced his third and game-winning RBI via another sacrifice fly — this time to former Phillie Peter Bourjos in left.

Starter Nick Pivetta allowed three runs (all earned) on five hits, two walks and three strikeouts in four innings. Eight Phillies relievers combined for seven innings, allowing just four hits, one run and three walks while striking out six. Luis Garcia suffered the blown save, while late roster addition Drew Hutchison earned the win with two shutout innings in the 10th and 11th.

Phillies No. 2 prospect Scott Kingery collected his first MLB hit on Friday on a single to center in the fourth, while making his first career start (third base). Kingery finished 2-5 with a strikeout and 17 pitches seen. Kingery will make his second MLB start on Saturday at a different position: shortstop. Jorge Alfaro will also receive his first start of the season as catcher.

The Phillies will look for the first opening series win since 2011, when they swept the then-National League-affiliated Houston Astros in a three-game home series behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. Thus far in this year's opening series, the Phillies have been outscored and outhit by the Braves, 12-10 and 18-16, respectively.

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Philadelphia Phillies (1-1) Atlanta Braves (1-1)
RHP Vince Velasquez RHP Brandon McCarthy
(2017: 11-14, 4.45 ERA) (2017: 6-4, 3.98 ERA)

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Phillies win first game of season in extra innings

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 5, Atlanta Braves 4  ❖  Attendance: 35,123

ATLANTA, Ga. — It took eleven innings, a combined sixteen pitchers used between both teams, and over four hours, but the Philadelphia Phillies (1-1) pulled out a victory over the Atlanta Braves (1-1) and handed manager Gabe Kapler his first win as a Major League manager. The big story of tonight's game was the Major League debut of Scott Kingery. He made the start at third base and looked very comfortable there. Kingery struck out in his first at-bat, but he bounced back to get his first big league hit in the fourth inning: a single up the middle. According to Statcast, the ball left his bat at an impressive 108 mph. Kingery also singled in the eighth inning. He is the first Phillie to record two hits in his Major League debut since Domonic Brown in 2010.

On the offensive front, it was a combined effort. Almost all of the starting position players recorded at least one hit. Carlos Santana's first hit in a Phillies uniform was a solo home-run. He knocked in three of the five runs in the game. Rhys Hoskins also hit his first homer of the season. J.P. Crawford's first hit of the season led to him scoring the winning run.

The bullpen was excellent. Eight relievers threw a combined seven innings, in which they only allowed four hits and one run. The only pitcher from the 'pen that did not pitch was Jake Thompson. In these first two games, Kapler has gone to the bullpen an astounding thirteen times. When asked about this after the game, he said, "I'm well aware that we can't use everybody every night ... We'll be creative and we'll be flexible and we'll find ways to put together a bullpen that's gonna be protective." Based on that statement alone, it's clear that Kapler has no intention of changing this strategy, despite the strain it could put on his bullpen over the course of a 162-game season.

WP: Drew Hutchison (1-0, 0.00 ERA)  ❖  LP: Shane Carle (0-1, 4.50 ERA)

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Why the 1st Wildcard Should Be Desired Finish for Flyers


(Kate Frese/SB Nation)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Four games remain in the Flyers quest for a playoff spot. It has been a season full of different possibilities.

At one time, a division title seemed to be within reach. The playoffs in general also were highly unlikely at another point in the season. The Flyers have essentially flirted with every possible fate in between too.

Once the dust settles after the final four games, there will be clarity in where this season goes from here. The Flyers win on Wednesday night made clinching a playoff even more of a reality. The Flyers are in a spot where no matter what the rest of the league does, win three of the final four games and you’re in.

But once they make the playoffs, is winning a playoff series a possibility?

In short, of course it’s possible. Anything is possible in the playoffs. But for the Flyers to have the best chance to play beyond the first round of the playoffs, being the first wildcard may be their best bet.

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Ben Simmons: "Markelle Fultz is a freak of nature"

2018-03-30 23_00_42-markelle fultz dunk - Twitter Search

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Give Markelle Fultz the rock in the open court and he's going to make magic happen. At least that's what happened on Friday night in the Sixers' 101-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The win is the Sixers' ninth straight, as they've now won 10 of their last 11 games.

Off a steal away from the Hawks, the ball got to Fultz in the open floor, and he took the ball to the rack for the first poster dunk of his NBA career.

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Former Sixer Aaron McKie to replace Fran Dunphy at Temple in 2019

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

According to reports, the former Philadelphia 76er will be taking his rightful place as the Head Coach of the Temple University 2019.

Aaron McKie, who played for John Chaney's Owls from 1991 to 1994, will take over the lead when legendary coach Fran Dunphy steps down following next season.

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Budenholzer on COY: "Brown should be coach of the last 5 years"

2018-03-30 18_23_47-Brett Brown _ Postgame vs Knicks (3.28.18) - YouTube

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

For the Sixers in 2017-18, the team has had one massive improvement compared to the team's previous five seasons.

For one, the Sixers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. That's saying something.

Part of the progress is the influx of new talent and promising players, but at the end of the day, the coaching has to say something.

For some, Brett Brown still isn't the guy, more of a placeholder for another coach to come along and become some sort of "Post-Process" coach for this maturing Sixers team.

But then there are the Brett Brown truthers, who know that this guy is something special, someone worth keeping around, especially bred from the Gregg Popovich lineage.

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