I never can remember whether pitchers or hitters are ahead of the other in April, but I do know this: big league pitchers who've been at their jobs since April are light years ahead of batters who begin their seasons in July.
Ryan Howard is one of those batters and his anemic numbers and massive number of strikeouts suggest he still hasn't caught up to the guys on the hill.
Still, in this awful season of ups and downs, Howard stroked a walk-off single yesterday as the Phils rebounded to take two of three from visiting Arizona. In his first three AB's of the day, mighty Howard had struck out, but his final AB proved to be the game winner and the big guy was rewarded by being swarmed by his teammates at first base.
There was more good news this weekend series when Roy Halladay turned in a fine performance following a series of struggles and a trip to the DL. His fastball had some mustard and more to the point some movement and he won his first game in a very long time. A healthy Doc in the house would be a big boost to the team's fortunes going forward.
Another encouraging sign this weekend was the further emergence of Chase Utley, who has found his power stroke (two home runs) and raised his batting average slowly but surely. Utley shows few if any signs of the chronic knee problems that have put his career in jeopardy. It's worth pointing out, however, if he were hurting we would be the last to know.
Of course, this being 2012 and the Phillies, all the news wasn't good. Carlos Ruiz, having a career year accompanied by his just desserts (an All Star nomination), went on the DL for 4-6 weeks with a partial tear of the plantar fascia. As someone who has had that ailment (though at a much lower salary) I can do more than sympathize! How could anyone squat or run at all let alone for nine innings with a condition like that??!!
The week's semi-fire sale began with the trades of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence and concluded with that of Joe Blanton. All of these players went West, young man, to the Dodgers (Victorino and Blanton) and Giants.
The new-look or depleted Phils, take your pick, took two of three in Washington and two of three from Arizona. Go Figure.