For the first seven games of the 2013 season, Ryan Howard, aka the Big Piece, had been a missing part of the Philadelphia Phillies puzzle. Last night against the New York Mets, all of the missing pieces came together for a huge win.
Led by momentum-changer Cliff Lee, the Phillies wasted little time in dispatching the Mets. By the end of the third inning, the game was essentially over and an anxious Citizen’s Bank crowd of slightly over 38,000 could relax and enjoy a game.
Phillie fans weren’t the only ones who found some peace. In the third inning, power pals Howard, Michael Young and John Mayberry Jr. dusted off their bats and smoked Met’s pitcher Dillon Gee‘s offerings well into the night sky. For Howard and Young, it was their first home runs of the season.
Cliff Lee was his usual sterling self. Had Charlie Manuel been a little more patient and courageous, Lee would have finished a game in which he was in almost total control. Instead, Manuel pushed the panic button and removed Lee with two outs in the ninth. On his trip to the mound and back, Manuel heard the boos, and he should have.
Lee is now 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA. Comparatively, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay have four losses and no wins.
As Young suggested in a post-game interview, Lee is fun to play behind. He pitches in a brisk manner, and his style keeps everyone awake and involved in the game. Some of Lee’s colleagues need to take note.
This was a fun night, and one that everyone not wearing Mets uniforms could enjoy. But, one game hardly qualifies as a bellwether for the rest of the season. Howard and Mayberry Jr. have a history of being streaky hitters, and despite Lee’s superman aura, he’s not ready to pitch a three game series … yet.
Thankfully, the Miami Marlins are next up in the Phillies schedule.