Don’t Stop Winning

The Phillies returned home yesterday after a long weekend in DC where they went 3-1 and witnessed the last baseball game at RFK Stadium. More importantly, they’ve surfaced to just a half game out of the Wild Card spot with six games to play (3 each against Atlanta and Washington). The Fightins are off today, but both the Mets (at home versus Washington) and Padres (at San Francisco against Barry Zito) have games scheduled. Down the stretch the Phils will send to the mound Moyer, Lohse (though he came out of the bullpen yesterday), either Eaton or Kendrick, Hamels, either Eaton or Durbin, then Moyer again. Still, like all season, the offense will have to carry the team.  And no one person has a bigger opportunity to help fulfill that role than Ryan Howard.

You may have heard, the third-year slugger added his name to another record yesterday – most strikeouts in a season. His 195th K tied the mark set by Adam Dunn in 2004. Ryan will likely break the record on Tuesday and will quite possibly end the year with over 200 strikeouts. It’s safe to say though, we saw this coming. In Spring Training we witnessed him struggle, ESPN Magazine even did a feature on the hole in his swing…that has yet to be addressed. Don’t get me wrong, Howard’s 42 homers and 125 RBIs are crucial to the Phillies success thus far; but the strikeouts have come too often and usually at critical times in games. This season, during situations in which it is the 7th inning or later with the batting team either ahead by one run, tied or with the potential tying run at least on deck (“close and late” as defined by STATS), Ryan Howard has 33 strikeouts, 19 hits, 17 RBIs in 73 at bats. Meanwhile, Chase Utley has 13 Ks in 87 ABs, Pat Burrell has 22Ks in 65 ABs, and Aaron Rowand has 22 Ks in 87 ABs. So at this point in the season, when wins are all that matter, Ryan Howard has a prime opportunity to shake off the stigma and propel this team to the playoffs. He did it in 2005, and he’s the type of player that can do it again.

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  1. bobby

    September 24, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Yes, Howard coming alive right now would certainly be huge. But then, the Phils need everyone to step up at this point. It really does come down to every pitch, every at bat.

    They can’t lose more than 2 more and that may not do it. I just bought my tickets to home Playoff Game 1. Go Phils!

  2. Mdefl

    September 24, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Let me start by saying that this team owes me nothing. While I felt cheated by teams who did not make the playoffs in the past, I’ll only have good feelings for this team, win or lose. After what they have had to overcome and with virtually no starting pitching, it is indeed a miracle that we are mentioning the possibility of playoffs and Phillies in the same sentence.

    Having said that, they must go 5-1 to secure a wild card. If you look at their competition, I can’t see the Pads doing worse than 4-3 and the Rockies 4-2. It is time to pull out all the stops. If this means doing something that would appear to be illogical, like starting Myers for a game (instead of the awful Eaton), then do it. Convention be damned!

    Charlie, while not the best x and o guy in baseball, deserves a 2 year extention. He has gotten the most out of what he has. If Gillick and Amaro had given him 1 more quality starter and 1 more quality reliever, we would be talking about how to get tickets for the playoffs, not wondering if we are going to make it. Turning around Pat Burrell was a miracle.

  3. Mookie Wilson

    September 24, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    When did Howard help the Phils make the playoffs? They didn’t make it in 2005 so I’m not sure what you are talking about…

    By the way, we all saw your clubhouse celebration on Thursday night…did you get to see the Mets celebration yesterday!!! LETS GO METS!

  4. Mdefl

    September 24, 2007 at 2:38 pm


    It looks like the Mets will win the division. If I were you, I would get down on my hands and knees like a muslim to mecca and pray to God that the Phils are not the wild card. We have your number. 8 straight victories with a pitching staff that has about 1/2 of your talent. Think about it.

  5. Greg

    September 24, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Mdefl, good point.
    I’ve wrote the Phils playoff hopes off so many times this season, and they always come scrapping back. A buddy of mine asked me why I haven’t been hooting and hollering about the Phils chances this year like every other year.
    Answer: I never expected it, not with the injuries, with the starting pitching, with only 3 consistent relievers. They don’t stack up on paper, but these guys have some kind of heart that I’ve not seen from any Phillies team. 45 comeback victories? Only two pitchers Moyer 44, and Alfonseca 45, staying off the DL or out of the minors for the entire season? And they can still make the playoffs?!! Recent Phillies teams before would have split the homestand and just miss, but let’s see what these guys can do. One wild week coming up. I’d love to remember this squad as one that makes the post-season.

  6. Mookie Wilson

    September 24, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I don’t have to thank anyone but the Phillies. Look we beat you up last year and we won the division. This year you beat us up and we’ll still win the division. You couldn’t beat enough teams to win the division and therefore we’ll win. It’s as simple as that…we have the better team. And if you do make the playoffs, there’s now way the regular season victories/losses mean anything. Look at the 88 Mets who killed the LA Dodgers during the regular season but couldn’t win when it mattered. After 14 years you guys shouldn’t just assume you are going to the world series if you make the playoffs because you beat the Mets during the regular season. We still have better starting pitching…we’ll see. I think you have a pretty good chance especially with the schedule the Padres have left…

    However, I’d hold off on the ESPN clubhouse celebrations until you actually win something. That was pretty stupid…see the Mets winning every day since the Phils did that.

  7. Greg

    September 24, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Stupid for what?!! Our players can’t get excited to win a big game and make up one in the standings? Just like Rollins is public enemy #1 in Mets fan’s eyes for believing in his own team. Mets fans are corndogs and maybe you should focus on the Nats. Or better yet, don’t.
    I’d say the 2007 Phils taking 12 of 18 from the 2007 Mets would have a hell of a lot more relevance to any possible 2007 playoff showdown than what kind of crapstains the 1988 Mets left on their own bedsheets. Nice logic, though… corndog.

  8. Mdefl

    September 24, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Hey Mookie, is your butt burning? It should be because your Mets got spanked! A chance to pretty much put the Phils away and they blow it.

    Let’s see what happens at the bank. Smoltz HATES to pitch in Philly. We have James who I think we can beat, Smoltz already mentioned and Hudson who we hit well last month. Actually, I am very worried about the Hudson game because we have the god awful Adam Eaton scheduled. I would take someone from A bill and throw him out there. Heck, is Savery signed yet? I am serious, anyone but Adam Eaton at the bank.

  9. Mdefl

    September 25, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Padres lose. Game on.

  10. Mookie Wilson

    September 25, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Okay, we’ll see boys…I’d rather be in first place regardless of who win more games against each other. I guess you wouldn’t rather be in first place with a losing record against us. I’m pretty sure that’s how you feel. Second place is so much cozier in October?

  11. MDefl

    September 25, 2007 at 3:31 pm


    It really does not matter who has more victories if both the Mets and Phils make the playoffs. Gosh, we always seem to find a way to beat your sorry butts.

  12. MDefl

    September 25, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    BTW – I am NOT taking it for granted that the Phils will make the playoffs. One game at a time.

  13. Mookie Wilson

    September 25, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    That was my point in the first place.

    In 2006 we beat you more than you beat us ~ We won the NL East
    In 2007 you beat us more than we beat you ~ The results are in ?

    We’ll see…On today there was a column by Verducci about post season myths and one of them has to do with how teams play against each other during the regular season and how it translates to October baseball. It very rarely has any effect. Since the Mets and Phils have never once played each other in the postseason, I am not sure how you have “beat (y)our sorry butts” (although I am sure our “butts” excite you). In my lifetime the Mets have been to the playoffs a handful of times and won one World Series. I’d say that is true for most Philly fans (not alive during the 1800’s) so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. We both have a long week to go before we can really start talking any legitimate smack.

    Good luck dude…

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