Howard Commits First Error, Phillies Win Anyway

Ryan Howard... defensive wizard?It took nearly 395 defensive innings, but Ryan Howard finally committed his first error of the 2009 season in tonight’s game against the Florida Marlins. During the top of the ninth inning, reliever Chad Durbin — after getting the first batter, John Baker, to ground out — loaded the bases on a walk, a single, and another walk. Scott Eyre came in to try and put out the fire against lefty Ross Gload.

Eyre threw a slider and two fastballs outside the strike zone to fall behind 3-0 to Gload, then rebounded with two more fastballs for called strikes. Gload grounded the sixth pitch, another fastball, to Ryan Howard, and it looked like a sure-fire double play. However, what ailed him last year came back to bite him again: throwing to second base. He threw wide of second base (covered by SS J-Roll), which bounced well into left field and two Marlins came around to score, shortening the Phils’ lead to 5-2.

The stress wasn’t over, though. Brad Lidge came in to try and shut the door but he walked the first batter he faced to re-load the bases. With one down, Jeremy Hermida grounded out to Howard, who wisely chose not to try for another, more risky double-play; instead throwing to Lidge to get the out at first. On the play, the Marlins scored their third run.

Phillie-killer Wes Helms struck out, mercifully, to end the game and the Phils hung on for the 5-3 win.

The bright spots:

  • Joe Blanton threw seven extremely strong innings. Eleven strikeouts and only five hits and two walks allowed. Eleven strikeouts!
  • Shane Victorino rebounded from his poor ninth-inning decision last night with four hits, including two doubles and an RBI, in five at-bats.
  • Pedro Feliz continues to hit and drive in runs. Two more hits, two more rib-eyes. He’s now hitting .308.
  • Ryan Madson threw another scoreless inning of relief. When will he get a chance to close while the Phillies’ Rome burns at the end of games?
  • Despite the error, Ryan Howard has been playing exceptional defense at first base. Prior to tonight’s game, he had a 10.2 UZR/150 compared to 2.4 last year and 0.4 in ’07.

Vote For Manny 2009

Jason of the blog It Is About the Money, Stupid has created a campaign designed to help get the currently-suspended Dodgers outfielder voted in as a starter for the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis. Head over to the website for more information.

As you may expect, any campaign that brings to light the fallacy of the anti-drug fervor and MLB’s laughable drug policies is a worthy campaign. Crashburn Alley is a proud supporter!

Look for more on the All-Star Game from me at Baseball Daily Digest in the next week or two as voting starts to heat up. I’ll go ahead and say it now: how is Raul Ibanez sixth in voting among National League outfielders?