Despite their struggles, the Phillies actually had a good shot at sweeping the Nationals today to end the 3-game series. But they apparently had one thing working against them: Ryan Howard. I hate to be so blunt about it, but Howard absolutely stunk up the ballpark today. He struck out to end an inning 4 times, all with runners on base; and 3 of those 4 times, he had runners in scoring position. One would think after more than 10 years in the majors, he would learn to stop swinging at balls in the dirt; no such luck. Howard is now batting .150 only 6 games into the season.
But on to more positive things… Sean O’Sullivan got the spot start today and rewarded the Phillies for their confidence in him. O’Sullivan lasted 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk. Overall, he looked good and kept the team in the game.
Odubel Herrera, the rookie Rule 5 pick, continues to wow fans with his speed and hustle. After hitting the walk-off winner in last night’s game for his first major league hit, Herrera collected 2 more hits today plus an RBI and a stolen base.
Cody Asche also had another great game with 3 hits, an RBI and a walk, putting veterans like Howard to shame. Asche is batting .429. Eventually, Darren Ruf replaced Howard in the game and began with a home run in the 7th to put the Phillies in a 2-2 tie, just like the night before.
But unlike Saturday’s game, the Phillies could not come back in extra innings to win. Although, they never stopped trying, which was nice to see. Even after the bullpen allowed 2 runs in 10th, the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning and then fell just short of the win, losing by a score of 3-4.
So there have been several encouraging signs to start the season, even though overall, this team is probably not going far with the youth they have and the dried up veterans. But it was a good game with some energy, which the Phillies have been missing the last several years.
Also, I just want to give kudos to pitcher Jerome Williams. Going back to last year, Williams is always out engaging with the fans and signing autographs, unlike most of the players. Today, he even scooped up what appeared to be a 3 or 4 year old fan out of the stands and played catch with him. He then literally picked the kid up and handed him back to his parents. It is a rarity to see a major league player truly appreciate his position and give back to the fans to consistently. The Phillies are lucky to have him!
So the team is off to New York for an early game tomorrow against the Mets. Cole Hamels will pitch and the game starts at 1:10pm.
And here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.