A 10-game bender that featured six losses, two key injuries and continued slumps ended in inspired fashion with a game-winning hit from a player who really needed it.
Ryan Howard, who entered the night ailing from thigh and knee injuries, launched Brandon Medders’ first pitch into the right field seats, clearing the bases for his fourth career grand slam. With the win, the Phillies warded off a three-game sweep to finish a poor but respectable 4-6 against Atlanta, San Francisco and Arizona.
Howard’s shot gave Jamie Moyer the win and tagged Randy Johnson with three of the runs and a no decision. Big Unit had been carving up the Phillies all night, striking out nine, including the first six men he faced. It wasn’t until he tired and lost the strike zone in the 7th inning that the Phils mounted an offensive attack. The Phils went on to win 9-3, just the remedy the Phils needed before today’s off day and upcoming home series with the Cubs. Howard is expected to be examined by the team physician today, but it sure doesn't look like the reigning MVP will be missing much action.
Good links: Bill Conlin says GM Pat Gillick can’t undo Ed Wade’s mess overnight and says missing draft picks and poor scouting have decimated the minor leagues. The Good Phight lists the 10 worst post-MVP seasons and where Ryan Howard would stand among past winners.
Zagurski tearing up Class-A hitters
Michael Zagurski, a 24-year-old left-handed reliever pitching in Clearwater, has 29 strikeouts to just four walks and five hits over 15 1-3 innings. Zagurski, a 12th round pick in the 2005 draft and product of the University of Kansas, spent all of last season with Low-A Lakewood (4-4, 3.51 ERA).
Let’s keep this Jayhawk moving along, shall we, unless we’re that interested in watching him blow away the Florida State League at age 24 ...