The Big Piece and The Big Deal
Howard hit a three-run homer to left-field in the first inning and a two-run homer to right field in the third inning against the Mets.
The three-run homer could not have been more impressive. He kept his hands in and simply muscled the ball to left field. Or as Keith Hernandez said to Ron Darling as he watched the replay on SNY: “This is an inside-out, Ronny! He inside-outed this ball and hit it out in this ballpark. That’s impressive.”
Howard crushed the two-run homer in the third over the Subway sign in right. Or as Hernandez put it: “He turns on this one and he knew he got it. Inside-out to the opposite field, the exact opposite here.”
Howard has hit .333 (20-for-60) with three doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 25 RBIs in his last 15 games. He is hitting .268 with 34 homers and 104 RBIs this season, joining Chuck Klein as just the second player in franchise history to have four consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons.
This is the fourth consecutive season Howard has had 100 or more RBIs before Sept. 1. He had 114 in 2008, 110 in 2007 and 128 in 2006.
If Howard is the Big Piece than Cliff Lee is the Big Deal. He improved to 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in five starts with the Phillies, who dealt for him July 29. In 40 innings, he has allowed 24 hits, six runs, three earned runs, six walks and zero home runs. He has struck out 39. Opponents have hit .175 against him. He allowed six hits and two unearned runs and struck out five in seven innings today against the Mets.
“This game is not that easy. It’s just not,” Brad Lidge said about Lee. “It’s pretty amazing. Not a whole lot of guys can say that they’ve done that over a five-game span. He’s throwing eight different things for strikes then he’ll sneak 94 in there from the left side. He’s throwing everything he wants to basically every single time. That kind of consistency is very hard to duplicate, no matter if you’re in midseason form or not. It’s just a lot harder to be that consistent than he’s showing. Trust me. I’ve been trying to figure it out for a couple months. It’s hard to get locked in like that and be automatic on every pitch. It’s impressive.”
Brett Myers walked one and struck out one in one inning in a rehab start for Single A Lakewood.
In between innings this afternoon, the Mets played the Electric Slide with a girl in a Mets jersey leading some children in the dance. The cameraman never noticed a couple Mets fans behind them dancing along while wearing paper bags over their heads. Hilarity ensued.