When Ryan Howard was tackled by Cody Asche and Domonic Brown after delivering a walk-off single to beat the Mets, 7-6, Jimmy Rollins stood a few feet off of first base and smiled. J-Roll wasn’t surprised but Phillies fans were taken back that Howard and his teammates rallied from a five-run deficit to prevail.
Prior to the game, Rollins, who has played the role of Nostradamus, told Metro to watch out for the Big Piece, who has been disrespected of late by fans and the media. Twice within a week, Chase Utley was walked intentionally to face Howard. Each time Howard has come through with a game-winning hit.
Rollins said it reminds him of the Phillies glorious run, in particular game four of the 2009 NLDS against the Rockies. Howard exclaimed ‘just get me to the plate, boys’ in the ninth inning against Colorado. The hulking first baseman drilled a two-run double, which tied the game and helped the Phillies en route to a second consecutive NL pennant.
“He’s been saying that a lot lately,” Rollins said. “Get me to the plate.’ I think he said it the other night (before Howard hit a game-winning grand slam against the Houston Astros) or the night before that. He’ll say, ‘somebody get on base for me, it’s got to be worth more than one run.’ Thats his mentality and it’s a good mentality. He believes he’s going to go deep.”
Despite hitting .218 and being benched, Howard appears to have his swagger back.
“Yes, I’ve never lost my confidence,” Howard said. “I believe I’m going to come through.”
Despite the worst numbers of his career, Howard is coming through in the clutch. Howard has 24 go-ahead RBI this season, which is second only in the NL to Giancarlo Stanton.
“Ryan has done it so many times before,” Utley said. “I’m not surprised at all. He has a knack for driving in runs. He’s always had that knack.”
Howard is third in the NL with 72 RBI for a last place team, which has difficulty putting runners in scoring position.
“He has a lot of pride,” Utley said. “He also can still hit and drive in runs. He’s a huge part of our team.”