Last night was pretty fun. Dollar dog night led to a sellout crowd for an NL East match-up between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals, both teams struggling to play up to expectations this season. Monday night saw Ryan Howard end his home run drought to highlight a 3-for-3 night and a walk-off base hit from Domonic Brown after a rare blown save.
John Lannan was just one Jonathan Papelbon strike away from picking up his first win with the Philadelphia Phillies, which would have been picked up in his first game back from a stint on the disabled list and against his former team. But Chad Tracy was able to fight off enough pitches against the Phillies closer and muscled one over the right field seats with one strike to spare in the game. Tracy's solo home run tied the ballgame at four runs apiece, Papelbon's first blown save of the season.
But the Phillies found a way to get out of the night with a win, and they did it in almost textbook fashion. Ben Revere, who has been quietly raising his batting average to a respectable level, led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single up the middle and he moved from first to third on a hit-and-run single by Jimmy Rollins. That led to Dom Brown's heroics. Brown lined a single up the middle to easily send Revere home for the winning run. Papelbon was the first player on the field to track down Brown, which led me to wonder if Papelbon offered another check to whoever bailed him out. If you recall, last season Papelbon blew a save against the Tampa Bay Rays and offered $5,000 to whoever was able to come through with a walk-off hit. Jim Thome did just that with a walk off home run.
After the game Comcast Sportsnet asked if Howard will find his power again. This is obviously one of the questions I have had about Howard for a while now. After looking as though he had his power back in the spring, Howard has just now matched his Grapefruit League home run total as he continues to labor through pain. Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler gave Howard a tremendous amount of credit for playing hurt last night when Michael Martinez was sent in to pinch run for Howard at second base in the eighth inning. When Tracy tied the game in the ninth I had a fear that removing Howard from the line-up could pose a problem later considering the night he had going for him. But I will give Howard credit for trying to play as well. We know this is not the same Howard as his MVP season in 2006.
Heck, that was six years ago now.