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Ryan Howard's disappearing act

Nov 1, 2009, 11:48 AM EDT

Much has been made of Alex
Rodriguez’s World Series struggles, but after his two-run blast on
Saturday night, the focus has now shifted to Ryan Howard, who is just
2-for-13 with nine strikeouts over the first three games of the series.

Howard struck out in six straight
at-bats between Game 2 and Game 3. He has yet to draw a walk during the
series. The Philadelphia slugger is just three strikeouts away from
Willie Wilson,
who set a World Series record in 1980 by striking out 12

“I mean, hey, that’s baseball,” Howard said. “You have it one day, it
may not be there the next day. The only thing you can do is show up
again the next day.”

It might not be Howard as much as an overt strategy by New York. Nine of Howard’s 13 plate
appearances have been against southpaws, of which he is batting .222
(two doubles vs. CC Sabathia in Game 1). The Yankees have given him a
steady diet of curve balls and sliders low-and-away. With five
strikeouts in nine at-bats against left-handers, Howard is chasing the breaking pitches with regularity. The
Yankees seem to be well aware of Howard’s feeble .653 OPS against
left-handers during the regular season and are taking advantage of it.

  1. Khyber Jones - Nov 1, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    In 3 games, Yankee pitchers have proven to themselves that they can pitch to the Philly hitters. It’s hard to keep all of the bats quiet, as demonstrated by Jayson Werth’s explosive bat in Game 3, but you can get big outs against them and you can find dead spots in their lineup.
    The Yankees beat the Phillies in a shoot out and that has to strike at Philly’s confidence, because their intimidating offense is what drives them as a team.
    Through 3 games, the Yankees have been the better team and they are gaining confidence. That doesn’t bode well for Philly. The Phillies have to find a way to win Game 4 in order to save the series, but the pitching matchup does not favor them. We’ll see if the Yankees have a killer instinct and whether the Phillies can raise their level of play to match a team that is better than them.

  2. Shely - Nov 1, 2009 at 2:41 PM

    You got this one right. I personally don’t think they can do it now. Yankees in 6 at the most.

  3. Bree - Nov 1, 2009 at 4:36 PM

    To Shely & Khyber;
    Astute observations from Khyber; if Blanton gets in trouble early in the game, who will be the first person Manuel will use in the Phillies bullpen? I was brimming with hope last night in the first 3 innings with a 3-0 lead and Hamels appearing to pitch well.
    Will Howard’s bat awaken? Could Lee have pitched on 3 days’ rest?
    I need better baseball minds than mine to figure this all out. I’ve been a Phillies fan all my life (Indians in the American League) so I have a genetic predisposition toward despising the Yankees. Tonight is do or die for the Phillies!!

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