In the past few years, the Philadelphia Phillies have been a team that has blossomed in the second half, going on incredible win streaks while blowing their opposition out of the water. They proved it last year, coming back from seven games out of first place in the NL East in late July, to having the best record in all of baseball. This year, the Phillies are an incredible 20-7 since the All-Star break with tonight’s win. These late runs are usually helped by a power surge from Ryan Howard, a player who’s career OPS rises from .867 in the first half of seasons to 1.006 in the second half. Howard’s batting average also takes a leap, going from .262 to .292 in the second half of the season.
The Phillies utilized Howard’s second half surge today, getting the slugger to go 2-4 with four RBIs, including a first inning home run, Howard’s 26th of the year. They would also get contributions from Carlos Ruiz , Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins , and Hunter Pence giving the Phillies 11 total runs.
The copious amount of runs would make Roy Oswalt ’s start easier, allowing him to go seven strong innings, allowing just three runs on six hits, while striking out five batters. Oswalt really hit his spots tonight, as nearly 70 percent of his pitches were strikes. The win, Oswalt’s fifth, is his first since June 12, also the last time he pitched more than six innings. It doesn’t look as though Oswalt will be the ace he once was with the Houston Astros , however, it seems like he is at the same level he was at before his injury.
Tonight, in the Phillies spread out offensive attack, Ryan Howard really stood out, and it looks as though he is about to hit his stride as he usually does at this point in the season. Just this month, he has been batting .302, great number for a power hitter, and a whole 47 points above his batting average for the whole season. Howard’s power output has also increased drastically, and he’s gone from slugging .476 in April-July to .698 in August, a number that would lead the MLB if he could have kept it up all season.
The Phillies have been doing great things lately and if the Phillies can stay on this pace, they should have no problem cruising into the playoffs and possibly even winning 100 or more games. The Phillies have shown time and time again that they can beat almost any team with ease, and that they’re almost definitely the best team in the NL. However, there are still more than 40 games to go, and right now the Phillies just need to keep on playing their game, and staying relaxed, because whatever they are doing to win, it’s working.