The Phillies brought some fireworks with them yesterday afternoon against Baltimore, despite only getting three hits.
They took both games in the two-game miniseries with a 4-1 win over the Orioles on Independence Day and are now 10 games over .500 for the first time since 2011, which was the last time the team made the postseason. They’ve also won their last four games and six of their last seven.
Like he has for the entire season, Aaron Nola was solid on the mound. The right-hander gave up just one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts and two walks for his 11th win of the season. He’s also gone 8-0 at home.
Jorge Alfaro got the Phils’ scoring started in the bottom of the fifth when first baseman Chris Davis committed an error, which scored two runs. But in the seventh, with the lead still at one, Nick Williams pretty much put the game away:
Now that's what we call early fireworks.
Williams 2-R homer puts the Phillies up by three. pic.twitter.com/8peDVgVthI
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 4, 2018
That was his 10th home run of the season, as he joins Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, Odubel Herrera, and Maikel Franco in that group. The last time that happened before the All-Star break was in 2008.
Speaking of Franco, he’s been improving at the plate as of late in the eight-hole.
“I actually think hitting eighth is a good place for a power hitter and a good place for a guy who is working on seeing more pitches, for various reasons,” Kapler said. “It’s nice to have a guy who can pop a homer right in front of the pitcher, and then secondarily, if a guy is trying to see more pitches, a lot of times he [will] because the opposing pitcher is trying to pitch carefully to him.”
National League statistics back up Kapler’s claim: eighth-spot hitters have walked at a higher rate than seventh-spot hitters this season despite batting, on average, 23 points lower. Franco hasn’t experienced that effect, at least yet. Both his walks while batting eighth recently have been intentional, and his 6.6 percent walk rate this season remains well below the league average of 8.9.
The team is off today but has a weekend series in Pittsburgh that begins tomorrow night. Nick Pivetta will take the mound in that one.
Also, at the end of yesterday’s game, the team optioned Jake Thompson to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Sixers were a little busy yesterday as well. While many people were enjoying the shore or cookouts, the team was working on finalizing an agreement with center Amir Johnson on a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum. They also signed first round pick Landry Shamet.
Summer League begins tomorrow night at 7:30 PM with the Boston Celtics on tap in Vegas. That game will be on ESPN. We got a nice gift from overseas as well, with Jonah Bolden coming over for his second consecutive Summer League season. If he plays well, could he find himself on the roster this upcoming season?
With James van Riemsdyk back on the Flyers, who should he play with?
The easy fit would be to slot JVR in on the second line with Nolan Patrick and either Jakub Voracek or Wayne Simmonds, but things aren’t easy.
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall kept the door open for Claude Giroux to return to center in 2018-19 last weekend, so a lot of it depends on what shakes out in training camp. van Riemsdyk figures to be with either Patrick or Giroux.
Take into account how dynamic Giroux was with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny last season, the JVR signing should be one to boost secondary scoring. Putting him on the second line does that.
van Riemsdyk isn’t exactly the best defensive forward and in Toronto, Mike Babcock essentially used him as a third-line player at 5-on-5, sheltering him from facing top competition.
Brian Dawkins got his Hall of Fame jacket:
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) July 4, 2018
Only in Philadelphia is where people love discussing the third-string quarterback. But Nate Sudfeld is going to be a big story once training camp comes around:
He’s a prospect, for sure. And the Eagles want to find out more with extended practice reps in Training Camp and a lot of time running the offense in the preseason games.
“Nate works hard, he prepares, and he’s got a lot of skill,” quarterbacks coach Press Taylor said of Sudfeld. “I’m impressed with how far he has come in a short period of time. He hasn’t been here even a year yet, and that’s important to keep in perspective. We want to continue to get him reps and develop him, improve his game in every area. This is a big summer for Nate. We’re all excited about it.”
If Sudfeld keeps trending in the right direction, well, then this quarterback picture looks set for many years to come. They can confidently move forward with Wentz, one of the best players in the league. Foles is here through ’19 if both sides want that. Sudfeld, then, projects as a No. 2 whom the Eagles think can win if he’s needed to start or come on in relief. Heck, the team was impressed with Joe Callahan in the spring, so maybe he hangs around for some continued development.
In other sports news, if you consider this a sport, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut ate a record 74 hot dogs for his 11th Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest championship.
Did Lonzo Ball’s people leak his injury so that the Lakers wouldn’t trade him?
In other sports, UFC Featherweight champion Max Holloway is out of UFC 226.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm suffered a small fracture in his non-throwing hand. He’s fine and is throwing once again.
In the news, the Welcome America celebration was a hit.
A woman was arrested after climbing the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Two more people may have been poisoned with the same nerve agent that attacked an ex-Russian spy.