Philadelphia Phillies hoping Ryan Howard can shake slump, pound New York Yankees
Wednesday, November 4th 2009, 4:00 AM
"We can win it easier if he hits," Manuel said Tuesday, drawing laughs from the media.
The numbers don't lie: After hitting .286 in five games during last year's title run against the Rays, Howard is batting a meek .158 (3-for19), with 12 strikeouts through five games of this Fall Classic. His 12 whiffs tied a Series record, matching Kansas City's Willie Wilson in the 1980 Series.
"Ryan Howard is more than just a power hitter," Manuel said. "When he's really good, he's a very good, polished-looking hitter. But at the same time, when he's struggling, I think it's the pitcher and the fact that he's not following the ball."
Howard's worst performance by far came in Game 2 when he struck out four times. He whiffed three times against A.J.Burnett and once against Mariano Rivera in the 3-1 Phillies loss. Howard, who fanned twice against Andy Pettitte in Game 3, will have another chance against the lefty tonight in Game 6.
"I think we're making some pretty quality pitches against him," Pettitte said of Howard yesterday. "I don't think there's been a whole lot of balls left in the middle of the plate for him to hit. If we have left a couple in the zone, we've been fortunate to get him out."
Entering the World Series, Howard was coming off a superb NLCS when he hit .333 with two homers in five games. He has not left the yard against Yankee pitching.
"Apparently, he's the one guy we've been able to locate the ball well against," said Yankee reliever Phil Coke, who whiffed Howard in Game 5, but surrendered a double to the lefty-hitting slugger in Game 1.
Howard's counterpart, Mark Teixeira, is having his own struggles this Series, hitting .105.
"Ryan and I are very similar players. When we get on hot streaks it's tough to get us out and we can carry a team," Teixeira said. "But when you're a power hitter and you try to hit home runs, when you try to drive in a lot of runs, you also strike out. That's the way it is.
"If you want Ryan Howard to hit .300 and hit 15 homers a year, he's not going to go into slumps. But this guy puts up bigger numbers than anyone in baseball the last five years. So it's going to happen every now and then."
Take our Poll
Girardi's World of Hurt
Should Joe Girardi be fired if the Yankees lose the World Series?
Nervous about Pettitte pitching on three days' rest? Confident the Yanks can tear Pedro apart? Join us Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.
Lupica: Joe Girardi plays things his way to the end and good for him. The Yankees should win it all tonight. Then the manager's right. Better be right.
Andy Pettitte will take the ball on three days' rest against Pedro Martinez and the Phillies, looking to pitch the Bombers to a title.
The Yankees remain one win away from their 27th world championship. For Game 6, there are six key issues they must deal with.
Mark Teixeira insists he is not feeling the pressure that comes with seeing his robust regular-season production disappear in October.
Check out our video diary of the soccer team at Martin Luther King Jr. High School. On this week's episode, dealing with injuries and recruiting.
MORE FROM NYDN
It is the ultimate showdown between two of the most powerful lineups in baseball. Here's how they match up.
As the Yankees look to win their 27th championship, let's take a cruise through nearly a century's worth of baseball dominance.
The turn-of-the-century Yankees remain the last great Big Apple sports dynasty. The News fills you in on their whereabouts.
The final votes are in - and the Daily News presents the Bombers' best position-by-position in the Fall Classic.
Daily News World Series Pix
Get the latest Daily News pictures of the 2009 Yankees vs. Phillies World Series. Buy Your Pictures Today.
Buy Daily News YANKEE Pix
Show your Yankee pride by owning an iconic Daily News photo of the greatest franchise in sports. Click here to order!