Analysis

Ibanez Busts a Slump; Werth Continues His

—Citizens Bank Park

Raul Ibanez was happy. There’s really no other way to describe his mood after ridding himself of an ugly 0-for-35 slump that had people believing he was finished as a ballplayer. Ibanez himself never had thought that way, although you couldn’t blame him if he did. His teammates wouldn’t let him think that way.

“These guys have been really supportive and almost to a man, guys have come up and say ‘hey, I’ve been there, I know what that’s like.”

Even Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond couldn’t believe that Ibanez has slid into such a funk. Desmond gave Ibanez a tap when he got to second base, and told Ibanez he looked it up before the game to see how bad it had gotten.

“I can’t really put the feeling in words…it was a big relief,” said Ibanez after a 2-for-4 night.  “The only way I have to function is to pretend it never happened, and move forward.”

Maybe Raul himself can act like this never went down, but every Phillies fan was literally counting the hours, minutes, and seconds until he hit the bench. But as Charlie Manuel says, the only way to beat a slump is to keep playing through a slump.

“It’s what you gotta do, you gotta grind it out,” Manuel said. “When the going gets tough, you gotta get tough with it. You gotta keep swinging…and do a lot of praying and things might happen for you really. You get yourself in there and you get yourself out.”

Now, this clearly does not spell the end of trouble for Ibanez. Two hits against one of the oldest, and slowest, pitchers in baseball is not a feat. It’s merely a cleansing for Ibanez, and he’ll take that. It’s time to start anew. No longer is Raul, in his mind, 2-for-38. He’s 2-for-4 and ready to get hot, just when the Phillies are looking for some offensive threats.

Ibanez, ever the soft-spoken optimist, had some fun with his breakthrough night. “You feel better when you hear other guys have gone through it, but at the same time you don’t wanna hear. Cause I didn’t even think that it was possible, really.”

“It’s kinda hard to do,” he said with a chuckle. At least he’s smiling. It’s been a while since he’s done that. And hopefully, that hot streak is on it’s way.

WERTH GOES 0-FER in RETURN

If you watched the game, you witnessed the mixed reaction for Jayson Werth turn into a full-fledged ovation as he stepped to the plate in the first inning. Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora gave him a second to address the crowd by sweeping off home plate. Werth would tip his cap, take a few seconds to soak it in, and then, get down to business.

Werth would face Cole Hamels four times and would reach base by way of walk, his only trip to the bases on Tuesday night. In four of the last five games, Werth has gone hitless. His average is down to .226.

Many believed he would be booed in his return to Citizens Bank Park, and for a short time he was. However, the Phillies faithful understand the choice he made (or at least they should) and gave him a standing O anyway. So while he’s now the villain, the fans did the right thing and acknowledged him for the four years he served in Philly. It was a fine gesture.

In the bottom of the inning, when he took his familiar spot in right field, he tipped his cap again to the crowd, and again received a hearty clap from the 45,000-plus in attendance.

All-in-all, it was a win for the Phillies fans. They got to cheer for a guy they called their own for four seasons, and one who played an integral part in bringing a championship back to the city, and then watched him go 0-for-3.

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