Watching Ryan Howard go deep used to be a regular thing. Nowadays it’s more like a special occasion. Last night, Howard hit a walk-off shot in the 11th inning to lead the Phillies to a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians. Howard’s home run was on a full count off Indians relief pitcher Cody Allen (0-3). It was his fifth of the season and his sixth career game-ending bomb. Howard spoke about his success after the game. “I’m having a blast”, he said. “There’s a different energy and all that began in spring training.” Howard, being the longest tenured Phillie on the roster, singled and doubled in his first two at bats. Still, after a great game last night, he is only hitting a weak .185.
Phillies RHP David Hernandez (1-1) struck out four in two innings of relief to capture the win. Altogether, Philadelphia’s pitchers combined for 18 K’s and the bullpen had a great performance by throwing six scoreless innings.
Carlos Ruiz and Howard gave Philadelphia fans a flashback to the good old days when they hit back to back doubles that made the score 3-2 in favor of the Indians. I felt as if I was watching those old 2008-2009 teams for a second. Considering Ruiz and Howard are the only players left from the 2008 world series team, it was definitely nice to see. Later in the fifth, the Phillies tied the game at 3-all and had a chance to go ahead with a runner in scoring position. But, suddenly it was back to that reality that it was 2016 and Howard went down swinging to keep the game tied going into the sixth.
Phillies starter Adam Morgan pitched a so-so game until he was pulled in the fifth inning due to the little rally the Phillies had going. Up to that point, he recorded seven strikeouts, which is a career high for Morgan. He also only allowed five hits and walked one. He gave up all three in the fifth inning when Indians’ 2B Jason Kipnis smashed a two run home run, his third on the season. Indians’ RHP and 2014 Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber allowed five hits and struck out six in seven innings. After the game he commented, “I don’t think I had too much working for me tonight.”
With the victory, the Phillies are now on a four game winning streak and have won seven of the last eight. Pretty good for a team that was widely picked to finish last in the NL East, huh?
Phillies will face the Indians in the second game of the series tonight. Coverage starts at 7:05 PM ET.