Ryan Howard, You Want a Piece of Me?
Cole Hamels took the mound with the poise and confidence of a rock star on a blind date. He sailed through the first inning—three up, three down; beaned A-Rod with a pitch to staunch any intention he had of snuggling up to the plate, and then held the Yankees to one hit over three innings.
But the night snuck up on him like a light weight on cheap booze. And by the fourth inning, hitting Hamels was like an Irish lass on Russian vodka—easy.
Not that I’d know anything about that.
He took the loss on Halloween, no less. Like they say, candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
Just ask my husband.
Whoops. Was I thinking out loud?
Where were we?
Oh, postseason pitching.
I hoped Andy Pettitte would lose his cool after the Philly lineup had its way with him in the second inning—putting three runs on the board off four hits. But Philadelphia's lefties failed to do what AL left-handers had done against him all season—hit. Utley, Howard, and Ibanez were 0-for-9.
Coming into Game 3, Alex Rodriquez was 0-for-8 with six K’s and Ryan Howard was 2-for-9 with six opportunities to sulk away from the plate.
But A-Rod’s reviewed home run in the fourth was the siren he needed to wake that slumbering bat. Big men with quiet bats have been a postseason issue. Remember 2008?
Big Papi, David Ortiz, batted .154 in the 2008 ALCS series that went seven games against Tampa Bay. He was O’fer until he tripled in Game 4, but it wasn’t enough to win a trip to the last series.
In last year's World Series, Howard started out slow, going 0-for-4 in Game 1 while fanning three times. It wasn’t until Game 4 that he worried the Rays with three hits at four at-bats and used two home runs to boost his RBI to five.
And remember the slumps of 2009?
All season we’ve thought that, “When Jimmy Rollins is hitting, the Phils are winning.” That proved true during his mid-season slump. Now it seems like the tables have turned to Ryan Howard. He had two hits in Game 1.
Philadelphia won by five.
In Games 2 and 3, he never got on base.
The Yanks won both.
Where in the world is Ryan Sandiago?
Sports Illustrated called this series the "Big Bash" for two reasons: Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez.
Sometimes they know what they’re talking about, but sometimes all they do is jinx the man on the cover. This season is proof. Cole Hamels’ season was shot after he was the cover model, and now Ryan’s gone cold turkey since they used his mug to sell issues.
In the third inning of Game 3, Howard’s eighth strikeout in 11 at-bats cooled the team's momentum like a flashlight shining into a parked car. Even the second hit by Pedro Feliz couldn’t rile things up in the fourth.
Then all we had left was the long ball. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Jayson Werth—that six foot five cool drink of water, hit his seventh dinger of the postseason, moving him within striking distance of tying the all-time postseason record of eight.
And Carlos Ruiz tried to show his teammates how to be habanero hot by hitting a single, drawing two walks, and capping his game with a homer. But it wasn’t enough to compete with the ease the Yankees showed at manufacturing runs.
It’s almost like they’re paid to win.
Oh, that’s right, they are.
Last year, people told me the Phillies wouldn’t win the World Series with the long ball. Of course, they were wrong.
But this year, the Bombers proved they could be right. Last night, homers only kept Philly in the game. And although this series won’t be won by one man alone, I believe the turning point teeters on the six foot four shoulders of a man they call the “Big Piece.”
And when you're called a "piece" you're expected to deliver.
Not that I’d know anything about that.
Ryan, we want a big piece of you.
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