Ryan Howard homered twice and finished a single from the cycle, and Chase Utley, facing claims that he is hurt, homered for the first time since May 20 and added four RBIs as the Phils jumped on the board early and held on 9-5.
Beerleaguer: After finishing the roadtrip strong, it looks like the locker-room charms and amulets worked in curing the ailing bats. The Phillies are paying Howard a zillion dollars to produce homers (13) and RBIs (49). Don't look now, but he's within striking distance of David Wright for the league RBI lead (53). As for Utley, it was clear as day that he came into the game with something to prove after the newshounds closed in around him, sniffing for blood. I'm paid to be a sideline skeptic, so I naturally wonder if Utley and the amped-up Phils left too much out on the field, including a pair of minor blowouts by Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth running out balls at first. On a related front, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News caught wind late last night that Carlos Ruiz was taken to the hospital as a precaution after getting hit in the head by Jason Kubel's back swing in the 8th. So I wonder how today's lineup card will read, along with the scoreboard.
Joe Blanton was good not great; the Twins eventually caught up to him after mushing a ton of balls into the dirt. Kentucky Joe, who also appeared to be running on nitro, pitched into the sixth and allowed three runs on seven hits, finishing with a 15/4 GB/FB ratio. Still, this was a much-needed win for the struggling right-hander.Turning to a pair of unsung heroes who continue to get it done in the bullpen, and that would be Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero, who worked scoreless innings. Romero's peripherals aren't particularly strong, but Durbin's are rock solid. Stuff-wise, he's never been better during his tenure with the Phillies.
Finally, the combination of nerves and a 98 mph straight fastball ruined Scott Mathieson's debut. He'll eventually get there, but he needs another trick.