The San Diego Padres finally got on the board, scoring twice against Joe Blanton and the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.
Ryan Howard went 1-5 with a golden sombrero – four strikeouts. Yet, his WPA was a game-high +2.95. That was made possible in the 11th inning when Bud Black decided to walk Jimmy Rollins with first base open to allow young lefty Corey Luebke to face Howard in a tie game.
If this was five years ago (when Rollins was a really good hitter) *and* you had a filthy lefty, maybe this is a defendable move. This is never a good idea. Since 2008, Jimmy Rollins has hit .258/.320/.412. He just isn’t a particularly good hitter at this point in his career. In that same time period, Ryan Howard has hit .269/.350/.540. I mean, you can’t even really make the argument that Rollins is more likely to just make contact and get a single, really.
Howard does struggle against lefties (.233/.316/.451), but even considering that he’s more dangerous than Rollins right now, especially against Luebke.
Sure, there’s the fact that Howard was having an awful night, with the four whiffs. Then again, do you really expect five? You give a great hitter chance after chance, eventually they’ll make you pay.
Howard did by driving a Luebke offering to deep left field. Ryan Ludwick tried to track it down – a good left fielder probably would have – but it fell in for a two run double and the Phillies grabbed a 4-2 lead (and eventual win).
Ludwick made some fine plays in the field last night, including a diving catch and a few nice running grabs. Tracking down Howard’s blast would not have been an easy play, but there was time to find the wall and get under it.
On the positive side, Tim Stauffer was very good on the hill. Cameron Maybin, Jason Bartlett, and Ludwick all had solid nights at the plate. Bartlett also made a few great plays at short, including a charging bare-hand play on a slow roller.
Brad Hawpe went 0-5 with a strikeout, good for a position-player low –2.35 WPA. He did drive one deep to left field on the game’s final at bat, nearly tying things up. Hopefully, things will start to turn around for him.