Ryan Howard Responds
Yes, this blog has had a slight love affair with Ryan Howard in the last couple of weeks and so it did our heart proud to see him produce last night after taking a modicum of criticism for his post season play. Before Game 5, Howard had just five total hits during the Phillies postseason run. After the game was over, his hit total was almost doubled has Howard tallied three hits in four at-bats.
He also had an RBI, a run and a walk; however, Howard’s best stat of the night might have been his zero strikeouts.
Naturally, the Philadelphia scribes didn’t miss Howard’s contribution either:
Howard had struggled during these playoffs, though he had a big hit in Game 4 to get the Phillies’ rally inning going. Before Game 3, Manuel had talked about how Howard looked “overanxious” and wasn’t following the ball. Howard himself handled it all calmly, talking about the magnitude of the playoffs, how everything is dissected.
But the stakes right now are history-changing, and everybody in the Phillies’ clubhouse understands what some good at-bats from Howard mean to all of them.
“When he gets going, we can start putting a thumping on people,” Phillies closer Brad Lidge said afterward in the clubhouse.
While he still hasn’t hit one out of the park in the postseason, if Howard continues to have these “professional at-bats,” his level of production should continue to improve. Of course, it helps having players like Victorino, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins in the line up. It also helps hide any lack of production Howard might be experiencing.
However, if any of the above stop producing and Howard struggles in the World Series, expect the criticisms to start in earnest again.