It was a frustrating 3-2 loss for the Phillies, who once again failed to trim their 2.5-game deficit behind the Braves in the NL East. And it has been a frustrating 48 hours for Ryan Howard, who was ejected in the 14th inning Tuesday night, setting off his epic explosion at third base umpire Scott Barry.
Howard did not start last night as Charlie Manuel chose to rest the struggling slugger against former Phillies lefty J.A. Happ. He did pinch-hit in the ninth inning, knocking a single through the weak side of the shift to momentarily put the tying run at first base (Domonic Brown struck out to end the game).
Since returning from the disabled list, Howard is 3-for-20 with 10 strikeouts. He said he spent much of Wednesday evening in the batting cage.
"Kind of cleared the head a little bit, just went down in the cage, did a little work in the cage, and just tried to kind of find it," Howard said. "Try to get my rhythm back, my timing back. Just seeing the ball. I wasn’t really seeing the ball very well and just wanted to go up there and try and do that.
Howard missed close to three weeks with a sprained ankle before returning on Saturday. But he said the ankle is not an issue.
"There’s still a little bit of swelling, a little bit of pain or whatever," Howard said. "But when I’m out there, I don’t really think about it."
So what's the key?
“For me, it’s just trying to find that timing and rhythm, trying to find that comfort zone again," Howard said. "Seeing pitches, your adrenaline kind of gets going. Sometimes you want to do a little bit too much. Your mind and your eyes are so far ahead from the rest of your body, and you are trying to catch up. I think for me, it’s just getting back into that comfort zone. It’s kind of like spring training all over again.”