The closer it gets to October, the hotter Ryan Howard gets. In August and September, Howard takes hitting to a whole new level. He showed his power with two monster home runs to help the Phillies win their third straight game.
Yesterday, Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz each hit three-run home runs in the first inning. Today, it was Howard’s turn. Howard smoked a 2-2 pitch the opposite way, over the 16 foot tall left field wall. The Phillies quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead.
On Sunday, Angel Pagan led off with an inside the park home run. In Pagan’s first at-bat today, Cliff Lee jammed him, and it was an easy play for Chase Utley. Utley settled under it, but in his best Luis Castillo impression, dropped the ball. Utley fired to second, but the ball scooted to left field. Angel Pagan took advantage of the two errors and circled the bases. It was the first time in Utley’s career that he made two errors in one game, let alone during the same play.
Fernando Tatis’ sacrifice fly made it a 3-2 game, but both runs were unearned for Lee. The defense was not pretty– for either side. There were a total of five errors before the fourth inning.
Howard wasn’t finished with Bobby Parnell. He already took him deep to the opposite field, now it was time to pull the ball. Howard clobbered the 3-2 offering to the upper-deck porch in right field. The two-run shot gave the Phillies a 5-2 lead.
With the home runs, Howard surpassed the 100-RBI mark (104) for the fourth straight time in his career. He joins Chuck Klein as the second player in franchise history to have four consecutive 100-RBI, 30-home run (34) seasons.
The run support was plenty for Lee. Lee gave up more runs than he has in any other start in a Phillies uniform: two, both in which were unearned in his seven innings of work. He gave up six hits, struck out five, and did not walk a batter.
Raul Ibanez added a RBI double in the ninth inning. With the 6-2 victory over the Mets, the Phillies won the series three games to one. The Phillies now have a 16.5 game lead over the fourth place Metropolitans. The dog days of summer are quickly coming to a close, and the Phillies have a hot hand in Lee, and a hot bat in Howard. They’re just getting started.