Howard, Utley Struggling

howard 0807.jpgRyan Howard looks frustrated.

He went 1-for-4 with a double and three strikeouts Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Marlins. He is hitting .175 (7-for-40) with two doubles, two RBIs, one walk and 18 strikeouts in his last 10 games. He struck out with runners on first and second with one out in the eighth inning against Marlins left-hander Reynel Pinto – the runner on second represented the tying run – to drop his average with runners in scoring position to .160 (4-for-25) with no home runs, six RBIs, two walks and 15 strikeouts since July 11.

He is hitting .180 (29-for-161) against left-handers this season.

But it just isn’t Howard. Chase Utley is hitting just .150 (3-for-20) with one double, one RBI, one walk and five strikeouts in his last six games. He is hitting .000 (0-for-10) with one RBI since July 23 with runners in scoring position. He also is hitting just .214 (6-for-28) with one homer and seven RBIs with runners in scoring position since July 7.

Utley and Howard have hit .136 (6-for-44) with two RBIs in the previous six games, in which the Phillies are 2-4.

“Of course, when the middle of the lineup doesn’t hit it becomes tough on us,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.


Joe Blanton (7-6) allowed eight hits, three runs and one walk and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings, which actually were the most runs he had allowed since June 30 against the Braves in Atlanta. Blanton has a 1.87 ERA (nine earned runs in 43 1/3 innings) in his last six starts. He has a 2.46 ERA (24 earned runs in 87 2/3 innings) in 13 starts since May 21.


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How big would that run have been if Howard scored from third? This guy is still a young guy and should still be able to take some instruction. When he’s hitting, leave him alone but he looks lost at the plate. Nolasco has always been tough on the Phillies, but I hope they can bounce back and take the remaining two. I wish the lineup would stay the same. Without Victorino, there is just less of something.

Howard should sit for the game tonight against the lefty. The problem is, who plays? Can this new guy play first base? Because, with Coste gone, who do they have besides Bruntlett who hits righthanded?

Utley should rest tomorrow. I think he is getting beat up in the long season. Howard’s problems are not related to being tired. He has sucked against lefties all year. It is getting tiresome.

It is worrisome, any tight spot the rest of the season or postseason with Howard up and the opposing manager knows any decent lefty can sit him down easily. The whole team has been in a funk the past couple weeks, but Howard has been whiffing against lefties all year.

Ryan has gotten progressively worse and worse against left-handed pitching. Those stats don’t lie. The question are : (1) Why can’t he lay off garbage sliders and curves that are nowhere near the strikezone? (2) Why can’t he follow Charlie’s and Milt’s instructions? As for Chase, he always goes through a ridiculously long slump sometime during a season. That could be the only thing that will stop him from ever winning an MVP. Last year, I think it was from the middle of August to the third week in September that he was ice-cold. The fact is when Raul is hot, no one cares if Ryan and Chase are in slumps because Raul can carry the team like Ryan can. The fact is that Raul hasn’t been hitting like he was in the first half of the season.

Utley is Utley, he’ll be fine. It’s not like Howard being completely unable to identify non-fastballs is anything new, so I don’t know why everyone is all flustered about it.

Oh and who were all the people talking about how the division is in the bag and we’re getting Lee/Halladay for the playoffs, not the race etc?

Because I want to slap you all around a bit now that the Phillies are playing like garbage and are going to get swept by the Marlins. Thanks in advance.

Maybe they need Pedro to replace Hamels. He’s no better than their #4 right now.

Whenever this team gooes into a multi-player offensive funk, it’s almost always caused by the same thing- NOT hitting with men in scoring position. And the cause of that is having too many players with a Home Run FIRST mentality ( resulting in too many ” Ks”) and not enough players with a situational hitting mentality. It also does not help that Raul Ibanez, for as GOOD as he has been , is now leveling off and showing that he really is an above average 37 yo OF ( with some defensive shortcomings) and not the offensive stud that too many Phils fans think that he is.
I think that Michael Taylor ( if he continues to improve as he is at Triple A), is a type of player who could help (in the place of Matt Stairs) as Taylor is a 5 tool player with GOOD speed who has a relatively LOW K ratio is good defensive player and has GOOD Contact Gap Power. Having a 41 yo ONE Dimensional player ( who may hit a HR ONCE a year as a PH) is a luxury that the Phils cannot afford. Stairs is fast becoming the Eric Bruntlett of reserve Outfielders. Besides, a young player tends to be hungrier and this team needs some youthful exuberance. They tend to go through the motions too often.

Sit Diva Cole, his next start, and plug in Pedro. At least Ryan seemed to be *seeing* the ball tonight! Now it’s time for Chase to turn it around.

Glad to Ryan have a good night offensively. Too bad the only time I think he crossed the plate was when Johnson dropped the fly ball.

Hamels just is really pitching poorly. I hope Moyer can do his usual thing against the Fish this afternoon.

Michael Taylor dominated AA and is now strugging a bit with the adjustment to AAA. He’s not ready to contribute to the Phillies. If they are to replace a couple of the bench players they should do it in waiver wire deals for veteran players who can step right in and contribute.
This team looks tired and beat up. Chase should get a rest but when his replacement is Bruntlett I can understand the urge to just write Chase’s name on the lineup card every day.
Nobody should assume the the NL East race is over. I read that in a column in the Inky this morning and I have to wonder what the writer is watching.

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