Ryan Howard's first-pitch pinch-hit grand slam home run provided quite a lift for this fan but not nearly as much as reading about it this morning in my first opportunity in nearly two weeks to sit down with a hard copy of the newspaper.
No amount of bookmarks, toolbar icons, hyperlinks or aggregators can substitute for sitting at the dinning room table with a cup of coffee and the morning newspaper. Thumbing through the pages, scanning the headlines and images, I felt reconnected to the Phillies and Philadelphia itself as I hadn't since suspending home delivery in anticipation of our move into town. This familiar and comfortable feeling was akin to the one I always experience upon returning from a long trip and turning on KYW 1060 to hear the weather, traffic or just the familiar voice of Harry Donahue.
As for the game itself, the Phils looked over matched again through six innings as Randy Johnson befuddled them. The ancient left-hander opened the game by striking out the first six batters. He continued to dominate the Phils until the seventh when he surrendered a single, hit batter and walk to load the bases and set up Howard's dramatic pinch-hit.
Johnson's opposite and equally ancient number, Jamie Moyer, turned in another fine performance. Where would the Phils be without this steady, dependable senior citizen? Somewhere closer to the woeful Washington Nationals no doubt. Brett Myers relieved Moyer to begin the eighth inning and pitched two solid innings to record his third save and, more importantly, further consolidate his spot as the team's closer. I had been dubious about Myers' shift to the bullpen, fearing his temperament was ill-suited to the pressure, but he has convinced this doubter he can fill the role.
The Phils return home from a 4-6 road trip to the not so friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park. A quick look at the NL East standings shows four of the five teams have either losing or .500 records at home. Only Atlanta has a winning record in their own ballpark.