Ryan Howard is good again!
Sure, his big game on Tuesday might have been a fluke. After all, while he did have two hits in the contest, those hits came thirteen innings apart.
When he followed that up with another strong game on Wednesday, it seemed possible that Howard was finally heating up. After hitting a clutch grand slam on Thursday, it appears that the big man is on a full-blown hot streak.
Thanks to Howard’s heroics, the Phillies emerged with a 6-5 win, and a series sweep over the Houston Astros.
The Phillies looked like they were heading towards a loss. After the trade of scheduled starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez earlier in the day, the team had to hurriedly call minor leaguer Sean O’Sullivan to Philadelphia to replace him.
Given the suddenness of his call-up, it shouldn’t be shocking that O’Sullivan didn’t get off to a strong start. He allowed three runs in the first inning, courtesy of back-to-back home runs by Chris Carter and Marc Krauss.
Sullivan allowed another two-run shot to Carter in the third inning, but the fact that he was able to last six innings was a positive for the Phillies.
The Phillies bats were relatively quiet for most of the game. They scored a run in the second thanks to a Carlos Ruiz single, but Astros starter Collin McHugh held them in check through the seventh.
In the eighth, the Astros went to their bullpen, and the Phillies’ offense came alive. Cody Asche had a run scoring single against Josh Fields, and then the Phillies were able to load the bases with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard due up.
Naturally, the Astros turned to a lefthanded reliever. Tony Sipp has been strong against lefties this year, and he was able to retire Utley on a shallow fly.
That left things up to Howard. The big man has had some well publicized struggles against lefties, but this time, he came through. His grand slam gave the Phillies a 6-5 lead that Jonathan Papelbon was able to easily preserve.
The Phillies – and Howard – will hope to have this momentum carry into the weekend when they face the Mets in a four-game series. Friday’s starter will be A.J. Burnett who is looking to recover from a disastrous outing in his last start.