Howard and the Bats Lead Phils to Victory

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, April 06, 2011 08:53 PM | Comments: 35
2011 Game Recaps, Posts

Richie Ashburn Award: Ryan Howard

The Good:

-The first three innings. Nothing could go wrong for this team. Seven runs were stamped on the board and Joe Blanton cruised through the first nine outs.

-Ryan Howard is really locked in. Before the game, Charlie Manuel raved about the way Howard is keeping his hands back is the zone, using his brute strength to punish the baseball. In the third inning he did just that, popping a 420-foot bomb to dead center field. Howard only went 4-for-4 with a walk to up his average to .524.

(PHOTO: Philly.com)

When asked if this was a statement made by an offense that was full of question marks heading into the season, Howard said “the statement that we made was just us going ans being us. I think a lot of people counted us out. We’re just going out and playing our game.” If they continue to just “be them,” they’ll make a lot of people happy.  Howard is clearly flourishing in the leadership role this season. The team is climbing on his back and the back, right now, looks strong.

-Ben Francisco is punishing the ball, too. Except he had little to show for it the last two games. That was, until the sixth inning when he creamed a baseball into the left field seats about 15 rows back. On Tuesday night, Ben Fran laced two balls right into the stiff breeze in left field that fell just short of a home run. On Wednesday night, he smoked a ball to left field but it was caught by Willie Harris. It was an absolute b.b. Good to see him taking the role he’s been given and running with it.

-The Mets 4-5-6 hitters. Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, and Ike Davis went a combined 5-for-12 with five RBI and four runs. It has to be disappointing to rip off 12 hits (a night after putting up 13) and lose.

-A two-run fifth inning for the Phillies made the fans forget (somewhat) about the five-run top of the inning the Mets produced. The catalyst: how about a Shane Victorino two-out check-swing double down the line. He sparked the rally, believe it or not. Even if he didn’t mean to.

-Placido Polanco‘s slide was a thing of beauty. He laid out to get that ninth run across. Kudos to him. He’s also swinging a hot stick, which is incredible given his injury-laden spring that held him to 46 at-bats during the exhibition schedule. Dude is a pro hitter.

-The Phillies with runners in scoring position tonight: 7-for-17. Yikes.

The Bad:

-Mike Pelfrey was tossing batting practice up there tonight. In the end, the Mets offense – or the Phillies pitching – bailed him out and kept him from going 0-2 on the year. Pelfrey would pitch just two-plus innings, giving up seven runs (six earned).

-J-Roll had himself a night to forget. Rollins had been in a groove to begin the year, but tonight he fell flat going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a weak dribbler back to the pitcher. Better luck tomorrow.

-Joe Blanton looked as though he was about to land in the top part of this recap. Then the fourth and fifth innings came. “It kind of happened quick,” said Blanton after his 4 1/3 inning performance in which he allowed seven runs on 10 hits. “I started getting ambushed a little bit. I kept trying to get ground balls with guys on to get a double play and it was just through the hole, up the middle, up the middle, up the middle.”

-After the offense raced back in two innings-time, the Mets bullpen faltered. Blaine Boyer had an opportunity to keep the momentum rolling in the Mets favor, but he allowed two runs in the bottom of the fifth and another in the sixth, sucking away any type of energy his team had stolen from the Phils.

-The length of this game. It felt like there was a DH involved somewhere.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1677 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Jackie Heckmann

    Beautful Game. Our classy phil’s are back on track . If any one get’s hungry after the game Metro Diner is right over the bridge. Awesome food. Breakfast, we open at 6 am. Tell Chaley better oatmeal and white omlete’s. Jackie will be there with her phil’s beads on.

  • Posts: 13 riccaboni

    Avatar of riccaboni

    The silver lining with Rollins tonight? He averaged 5 pitches per plate appearance. He’s showing some form of patience and it will pay off.

    • Posts: 427 Publius

      Avatar of Publius

      Nice observation! A patient Jimmy will pay off dividends down the road, even though it may result in nights like this.

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    howard is going to hit 424 with 85 homers and 200 ribbies this season.

  • Posts: 530 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win. And a fortunate one at that. No doubt there are some fans here who thought this first series at CBP would be a cakewalk over the Mets. I didn’t think it would be. Regardless of prior records, there is still a sense of rivalry though not as intense as in past. Just look at the ‘hate’ here for the ‘mutts’ as example. Plus as division favorites with the publicized elite pitching, the Phillies will have that ‘bullseye target’ on their back throughout the season. The Mets showed that they were aggressive and opportunistic on the basepath and at bats. Their pitching failed them especially Pelfrey who has been a disaster in his two starts. Tonight’s game came down to the back end of the bullpen. Madson and Contreras made the difference between a win and a loss.
    Hopefully, tomorrow Halladay will bring a sense of order to the game and give the Phillies another win and the first series with the Mets.

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Although Victorino did ok today we need more out of him. I know its still early in the season but i wonder (im a Victorino fan) if he can go back to the .290ish hitter he once was an need him to be.

    • Posts: 2069 Brooks

      Avatar of Brooks

      One of my keys to this season was Vic hitting about .290 or better and Jimmy doing the same – of course, staying healthy

  • Posts: 2 Phil

    Avatar of Phil

    Question – I am out here in the Mountain Time Zone and watch the Phils on Direct Extra Innings. The last 2 games I have had to watch on the stinkin’ Mets [SNY] network. Any hints as to how I can watch via the Phils crew? Thanks. Go Phils.


    • Posts: 5160 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      Extra Innings is random, sometimes you get the hometown guys, sometimes not. If you buy MLB.TV premium for computer or other devices, you can choose your feed

      • Posts: 530 Bruce

        Avatar of Bruce

        Having moved out of Philly coverage area, I decided to purchase the MLB.TV package specifically to be able to watch the Phillies games. It is expensive but for 162 game season, I think it’s worth it. I think it was your earlier suggestion for it Lefty and so a belated thanks to you. Having a 22″ monitor screen (for computer) helps in viewing it full screen.

      • Posts: 5160 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        Glad it’s working out Bruce. I called in and complained about freeze up now and then, and they advised me to take it off of the “Nexdef” setting, said they were still ironing out some bugs. It works fine now. My favorite feature is the ability to set the audio overlay to Franske and LA instead of McCarthy, Sarge and Wheels. And all the bells and whistles.

  • Posts: 43 Greg

    Avatar of Greg

    Bruce, while Madson and Contreras pitched very well (I’d almost daresay I like having Contreras in the 9th more than Lidge), I think you’re forgetting the person who really kept things alive for us: Antonio Bastardo. His stuff is nasty, as long as he can control it, which I don’t think he had a problem with tonight. I believe he threw a combined 2 balls to 5 batters. He kept us in the game, and honestly, without the use of our Long Reliever and Middle Reliever, I’d say our bullpen held up VERY well the past game.

    Also, Pat hit the nail on the head with Polanco: Pure professional, and watching him blow through Juan Samuel’s stopsign to score on that infield hit was amazing baseball instincts.

  • Posts: 0 PhillyPhanaticLookalike

    IT’S APRIL! Give more time before we make any predictions. None the less, here are mine. The phighting are doing good, and lets hope that continues. Hamels will bounce back, give him time. Howard will falter, but will still remind us why we paid him all that money. Rollins will have a good year, not a mvp year, but very good none the less. Francisco, will show up great at first (Raul look a like?) but stutter in the middle, only to have a rally later. Utely? Who the hell knows, but suddenly I feel an ulcer coming on. I think we can manage without him, but honestly, I don’t want to.
    – Jon

  • Posts: 193 bfo_33

    Avatar of

    A great showing by the pen last night – Bastardo, Romero, Madson, and Contreras – only 1 walk in 4+ innings. With Doc on the mound, they should get rest today. Also, love seeing Howard drive that low/outside pitch the opposite way. PP may have the best baseball instincts Philly has seen since Pete Rose.

    The Mets offense did a nice job changing tactics – tried to work the count the first three innings, didn’t work, then got aggressive in the 4&5 (I don’t think anybody saw 3 pitches in an ab in the 5th inning), piled up the runs. Thank goodness they don’t have a pitching staff. Also impressed with the stuff the reliever Boyer has – fastball breaks right, slider left, both look exactly the same until they hit the plate. If he learns how to pitch, he has closer stuff.

    • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      Interesting point about the Mets changing it up – now that you mention it I did notice them swinging freely after trying to be patient early on. They saw something they liked from Blanton late in the game and honed in on it.

      Blanton basically said he was leaving fastballs up in the zone, which is a big no-no. He’s a guy I often wonder about, even after one start. You can pick him apart because he doesn’t have great stuff. He needs to be pinpoint accurate every time out to really have success.

  • Posts: 2069 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    Today, if Doc does not have CG we’ll be seeing the ‘other’ half of the BP – which would be Baez, Herndon and Kendrick. I don’t think Orr will get a consecutive start and no doubt Chooch will be behind the plate.

    I’d like to see Cholly fit Mayberry into this equation a little more. Good day to rest Raul? Put Ben in left, Mayberry in right and leave Vic in CF?

  • Posts: 56 RatBastardNJ

    Avatar of RatBastardNJ

    When the Mutts came from 7 runs back I was definitely in panic mode as this is the one team I hate losing to more than any other. The highlight of the night was definitely the bullpen where the Mutt’s feel apart. Even Romero, my least favorite signing of the offseason, held it together and did well. I don’t have any predictions as for now I am just enjoying the ride!!

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Good call on Bastardo-props . . . he looked really comfortable out there last night, I guess just some more maturity gives him more confidence on the mound.

    Speaking of Polanco running through Samuel’s STOP sign …. anyone else think he’s being EXTREMELY cautious this year . . . on Opening Day … he stopped 2 or 3 guys that had a legit chance to score (it worked out perfectly so no complaining), ..but I wonder if the players are going to start taking their chances despite his signs if they feel they can make it

    • Avatar of Dropped Strike Three

      I agree with the cautiousness… when Jimmy held up at third on the ball that Ryan Howard hit off the wall on Sunday, I immediately wrote a post about him being lazy on the base paths. But then a friend of mine pointed me toward the replay of Samuel throwing up the Stop sign. If you’re not going to let Jimmy score from third on an easy double that gets away from the outfielder, who are you going to let go?

    • Posts: 5160 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      There have been a couple times where I agreed with Sammy’s conservatism, but yeah he has been overly cautious. I don’t know if it is inexperience with our guys, meaning it will evolve as the year goes on or just being afraid to make a mistake. What we really miss IMO- is Davey Lopes at first.

  • Posts: 193 bfo_33

    Avatar of

    I don’t know a lot about Terry Collins – a quick internet search indicates he’s a lot like Bowa when on the Phils – good baseball mind, but too intense – a lot of second place finishes, loses the clubhouse be the end of the year. I think the Mets need that kind of manager right now. Not dealing with Jerry Manuel/Willie Randolph anymore. I may be in the minority, but think baseball is better when the Phils and Mets are both competitive (with the Phils being slightly better).

    Didn’t watch a lot of O’s games when Samuel was the 3rd base coach – not sure if he is generally conservative, or just getting used to the speed of the guys. Short term, I like the gambles, but think they need to get on the same page pretty quick.

  • Posts: 2069 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    I agree Don – and at this point it sure has not hurt us yet. And honestly, I think in Poly’s case pure baseball instinct overrides.

    Do you wonder what kind of ‘pep’ talk he received after the game?

  • Posts: 87 Dr. Dave

    Avatar of Dr. Dave

    My pregame expectation: Blanton would pitch well and the Phils would score a lot of runs. 50% correct.

    Blanton looked good for 3 innings but the 5th was a disaster. Bastardo and the rest of the bullpen were the difference. 2 nights in a row the pen was sharp.

    Pen ERA is now under 3.00.

  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    I love this blog, I check it everyday. But this article has numerous grammar and spelling errors. You guys should really proofread before you post.

    Now moving on to the game. I thought it was a great game, even though we blew a 7-0 lead we still showed that we have pride and did not let that get us down because we came right back out and scored three more. I said before the season started Ben Fran is going to have a great season and it is certainly looking like it now.

    • Posts: 0 Don M

      If you want to talk about bad grammar ….lets talk about SARGE on the broadcasts.. he’s the WORST, i can’t listen to games in the 4-5-6 innings because he drives me up a wall

    • Posts: 0 Andrew

      Pretty much every article does.

  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    Just dropped Manny Ramirez and picked up Ben Francisco in my fantasy team!

    • Posts: 0 Don M

      that’s a slow league if Francisco was still available … I tried to get Jordan Walden at 9am yesterday -and he was claimed the night before at 10:05pm .. ouch

      I have Chris Sale – CWS …and Hong Chi Kuo as setup men with my last draft picks in hopes that Matt Thornton and Broxton would falter …never thought Fernando Rodney would get a leash of only 1 blown save!

      • Posts: 1190 Manny

        Avatar of Manny

        Well, I have Thornton.. he better hold on as closer.. he definitely has the talent and ability.
        But like you with Sales and Kuo, I have Chapman hoping he takes over the closer’s spot at some point…

      • Avatar of Dropped Strike Three

        I snagged Walden at about 4AM the other night to replace Johnny Venters. I was counting on the co-closer thing to work out in ATL, but to get a guy with 30 saves potential was a huge improvement!

  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    It’s not really slow, it’s just mostly a bunch of Giants fans… which partially explains why I ended up with the Dodgers rotation (Kershaw, Billingsley, and Kuroda)…

  • Avatar of The Original Chuck P

    Bastardo deserves to be mentioned in the recap… he did a great job to get us out of a jam and then pitched a crucial inning after we took the lead.

    Is Howard dialed in or what? I love seeing him laying off those low and away breaking balls… I think it’s partly due to him standing a little closer to the plate and partly because he’s just seeing the ball so well. You can tell that he’s really swinging a nice bat; hitting monster bombs to center field and licking his chops in the batters box.

    • Posts: 530 Bruce

      Avatar of Bruce

      OCP, It appears Howard has slightly altered his batting stance; feet closer together..close stance. Plus Manuel praising Howard for keeping his hands back and having a longer look at the pitch. Of course, it helps to have added experience and knowledge of the opposing pitcher’s repertoire and when it is used.

    • Posts: 5160 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      Like what I’ve seen of Bastardo so far. Three straight sliders and then a 93 FB to strike out two guys.

  • Posts: 971 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    I mentioned in the off season that I thought before the season was over the Bastardo will be the key lefty out of the pen, he can picth to either left or righ\t handed batters and has great stuff, would not be surprised if he is the closer of the future here in PHilly

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