“Keep ‘em Right There”

2 Oct

OK, come on, you can admit it, you were worried.  After Doc gave up that 3-run home run in the first (the first 3-run homer he has ever given up as a Phillie) and the Phillies offense was making Cardinals pitcher,  former Phillie Kyle Lohse, look like Cy  Young for five innings, you were worried.

We’ve seen that show before.  But then came the sixth and Ryan Howard, the slugger who is often under-appreciated in this town, made a statement loud enough to be heard even back in his home town of St. Louis.

But before we get to that, let’s go back to the second inning.   With the Cardinals already ahead 3-0, Halladay gave up a leadoff single.  The next batter lined a ball toward the hole but Howard made a diving grab and a perfect toss to Halladay to get the out and potentially stop a big inning.  As Halladay headed back to the mound Howard gave him a reassuring pat and said,

“Keep ‘em right there.”

And that’s exactly what Doc did.  By the time Ryan Howard came to bat in the sixth, Halladay had retired 15 consecutive Cardinals batters without a single ball leaving the infield.  Doc would go on to retire 21 in a row before his night was through.

The Phillies finally scratched out a run in the fourth when Chase Utley got their first hit, a double, and Victorino drove him home with a single.  So they were down 3-1 when Ryan Howard strode to the plate in the sixth with two on, one out.

But before we get to that, let’s go back again, this time to another night in October, a night when Ryan Howard was at the plate with another game on the line, a night with an ending Ryan Howard would just as soon forget.

It was the ninth inning of the 2010 NLCS, the Giants leading in the series  and the game 3-2.  Bottom of the ninth, two on, two out, Howard at the plate.  But the bat never left Ryan Howard‘s shoulder on this night.  He took a called third strike to end the game and the Phillies season.

Eleven months is a long time to wait for a chance at redemption, a very long time.

“Keep ‘em right there,”  Howard had told Doc last night.

Well, Doc had done as he asked, now it was Howard’s turn.

Bottom of the sixth, two on, one out, Howard at the plate, his team down 3-1.  He worked a tough 8-pitch at-bat, fouling off change-up after change-up.  But there would be no called third strike on this night.  Howard crushed Lohse’s eighth pitch deep into the night, high into the second deck of a jubilant Citizens Bank Park, giving his team a lead that they would never give up.

Maybe now the “Big Piece” can finally put that last frustrating October, with no home runs and no RBI, to rest.

“Keep ‘em right there,” Ryan Howard had said.

Then the “Big Man” took the bat off his shoulder and took care of the rest.


2 Responses to ““Keep ‘em Right There””

  1. geetie cohen October 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I enjoyed reading the way you wrote about it as much as I enjoyed watching and yelling. Go Phillies !!!!

  2. Lea Dickler October 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Finally caught up on all your emails. First time I had a chance. Loved that one about “Leave them right there!!!” You go girl!!!!

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