It was a different scene the last time was saw Ryan Howard in the postseason, but tonight, it was the Big Piece's big hit that sparked the Phillies' 11-6 ambush of the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS. (AP Photo)
Beerleaguer: All the pre-game buzz centered on the Phillies' staff of aces, how Tony La Russa would wizard his staff and a St. Louis offense that led the league in scoring. Very little ink was spilled about the Phils' old-hat offense, and what little space they received dropped hints about their demise. Tonight once again proved that a complete Phillies lineup has the power to change games and win series, starting with the outstanding, focused, clutch, three-run blast by Ryan Howard in the sixth.
It would be a shame to remember Game 1 for the onslaught. Instead, remember the at-bat where Ryno swatted off Kyle Lohse until he uncovered the pitch he wanted. If not for Howard, the game, and series, might have taken on a very different dynamic.
At one point, Lohse was on pace for a 50-pitch, complete-game shutout, but the tables started to turn in the fourth after Chase Utley belted a double off the top of the right-field wall, Howard reached on a walk and Shane Victorino - kept alive by a critical error on a pop foul by David Freese - got the Phils on the board with a veteran opposite-field smack through the right side of the infield. Vic, along with Hunter Pence, finished with a pair of RBIs, not to be outdone by Raul Ibanez, who had three, including a blood-in-the-water two-run jack during the five-run sixth. The good Phillie continues to ring up a sneaky amount of RBIs.
A 6-3 lead was plenty for Roy Halladay, who retired 21 in a row and withstood a horrendous, three-run first. I'm hesitant to heap Doc with oodles of praise considering the early deficit and the simple fact that Howard and the offense took control. It's not okay to begin a postseason game that way. And all I can say about Michael Stutes' folly is that the postseason is for grown-ups and it's a small shame that the Phils had to show Ryan Madson in a blowout. No reason to believe Cliff Lee and the Phillies won't get after it against Chris Carpenter tomorrow.
Tonight, they pounced from all angles.