Break up the Phillies!
I had to dig deep into the memory bank to come up with an opener to describe a series victory by the Phillies after they took the final two of three from the Yankees in New York.
Kyle Kendrick got the win with seven strong innings of work. The kid continues to baffle teammates as much as opponents, pitching strong games then getting shelled then coming back with another fine effort. Good defense saved his bacon more than once, no play being more astonishing than Placido Polanco's dive over the rolled up tarp to snatch a foul pop up. It was number one on ESPN's top ten plays. Deservedly.
Speaking of Polanco, has there been any steadier or more valuable a player on the team thus far this season? No! He remains one of the most understated fine players in the game. He comes back to Philadelphia, a two-time Gold Glover at his natural position, second base, makes the transition to third and provides fine defense. He leads the team in batting average. He moves runners along. Man, it's great to have him back.
One of the more interesting story lines this season has been Ryan Howard. He arrived in camp slimmed down and determined to accomplish two goals: improve his defense and cut down on his whiffs. He has done both at the expense of some power but not his batting average. Nearly everyone in the blogosphere has condemned him in the past for his high strike out rate. Put the ball in play, they demanded, and better things will happen. He has and many of the same critics are all over him for the reduced power output. He is currently 8th in the NL in rbi's, seven behind the leader. I'll take the new, improved Howard, thank you.