Ryan Howard strikes out a lot. He also can hit the living shit out of a baseball. These two aspects of Ryan Howard’s baseball acumen were on full display tonight in San Diego. Howard was 0-4 with four strikeouts entering the top of the eleventh inning. Padres manager Bud Black intentionally walked Jimmy Rollins to get at Howard, who responded by plating two with a double to deep left field. Regardless of how bad Howard looks on a given day, he can change the outcome of a game with one swing. Note to Bud Black, next time, I would pitch to Rollins.
This marks the second consecutive Joe Blanton start in which he went seven innings and allowed two runs. Despite his newfound competency, victory is still eluding the portly right hander. At the beginning of today’s contest it looked like Joe was on his way to single handedly correcting the Padres offensive ineptitude. Cameron Maybin singled to start the game and was knocked in with a Jason Barlett triple. Blanton walked Orlando Hudson to put a man on first and third with no outs. Aided by some crappy base-running, Joe wriggled (can you picture Joe Blanton wriggling?) free of the jam. If this continues, Blanton will legitimize all the national press that he was thrust into by the other members of the rotation.
Antonio Bastardo. I think anyone with the last name Bastardo deserves to succeed. Apparently, the powers that be agree based on the performance of the Phils diminutive left hander. Bastardo struck out the side in the tenth inning, following a scoreless ninth from Danys Baez. The bullpen did a great job tonight tossing four innings of one hit ball. Thanks in large part to the heroics of these non-heroes, the Phillies won the game 4-2.
In summation, Ryan Howard struck out, hit the ball really far to win the game, Joe Blanton was good, the bullpen was good and the offense is still stuck in neutral. Tomorrow, the Phillies go for the sweep with Roy Halladay on the mound. He will be opposed by left hander Wade LeBlanc.