Phillies Notes: Howard finds batting stroke on homestand

Ryan Howard grimaces after striking out against the Mets on Monday, August 11. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Ryan Howard grimaces after striking out against the Mets on Monday, August 11. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 13, 2014

Ryan Howard's struggles this season have been well-documented, but the Phillies first baseman had a bounce-back homestand after a road trip when he went 1 for 25.

Howard had four game-winning hits in the seven-game homestand. He also batted .266 (8 for 30) with two home runs and six RBIs.

Howard is batting .219 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs this season.

"You hit the ball and can't control what happens once it comes off the bat," Howard said Monday after a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets. "I hit a bunch of balls hard over the last road trip, but guys were right there, especially balls up the middle."

Manager Ryne Sandberg concurred. He said that even though Howard had one hit in the team's last seven-game road trip, against the Mets and the Nationals, he was showing signs of coming out of his slump.

"He started on the last road trip," Sandberg said, "making a lot more contact, which is big because he is giving himself a chance to get some hits and gain some confidence."

Tuesday's starter

The Phillies begin a two-game series against the Angels on Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif. Sandberg said that journeyman righthander Jerome Williams, claimed Sunday off waivers from Texas, would get the start.

This is Williams' third team this season. He had a 6.04 ERA in 26 relief appearances with Houston. Williams made two starts for Texas and had a 9.90 ERA.

Williams, 32, pitched three seasons for the Angels from 2011-13, going 19-18 with a 4.46 ERA.

Angels centerfielder Mike Trout, who turned 23 on Thursday, remains the American League MVP favorite after finishing as the runner-up in the last two years. The former Millville High star is hitting .299 with 27 home runs, 81 runs, and 85 RBIs.

Byrd plays on

Marlon Byrd fouled balls off his right big toe during games against Arizona on July 25 and 27. He said he has gone from having extreme pain to simple discomfort. Byrd did not want to be taken out of the lineup and remains a fixture in right field.

"The night I did it a second time, I could barely walk, and it swelled up and I put ice on it and played through it," Byrd said. "If you are an everyday guy, that is what you do: Play every day."

Byrd has appeared in a team-high 117 games and has 22 home runs and 66 RBIs.

Extra bases

Former Phillie Aaron Rowand, who bloodied his face on the center-field fence to catch a fly ball in May 2006, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. . . . After hitting a ground-rule double in the ninth inning, Chase Utley is 20 for 57 (.351) in his career as a pinch-hitter with eight extra-base hits. . . . The Phillies began the season 9-5 against National League East teams but have gone 13-28 against them since. . . . Jimmy Rollins was 6 for 34 (.176) on the homestand.

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