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.

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3 comments

  1. eh

    May 26, 2009 11:52 PM

    just read today manuel has no desire to change closers.

  2. B

    May 27, 2009 02:34 AM

    That’s one of Manuel’s strong points he sticks by his players, and that’s part of the reason guys love playing for him so much. Whether sticking with Lidge is the right move is certainly debatable – nonetheless it’s awesome having Madson around. Closer by Committee would honestly be the best thing to do especially when JC is back. You use the match ups to determine who you use when, but that’s never going to happen, go Brad!

    On Blanton, you could see his command and stuff coming around last start even though he gave up 5 runs. The inning that he let up all the runs he got screwed by some poor luck. A few weak grounders for hits, a fly ball to Stairs that fell in – which would have been caught by Werth, and a pitch that looked like a strike out called a ball which led to a walk.

  3. doubleh

    May 27, 2009 11:02 AM

    Does this mean that now the error floodgate opens for Howard? I know they say a lot of it is mental, so I really hope not.

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