After hitting well over 800 feet worth of homeruns and collecting two other hits in his first spring training game of the season, Ryan Howard seems just fine. His right field homerun in the fourth inning of Friday's game was possibly the longest homerun he had hit in his life, rolling into a retention pond that lies literall out of Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater. That ball is alligator food now. It brought back memories of the ball that he hit over the scoreboard while playing at Reading a couple seasons ago.
Just to prove he's okay, he launched another shot off left-hander Ron Villone. That's right, left-hander. You know, the kind of pitcher that Howard isn't supposed to be able to hit. A few more shots like that and nobody is going to be spelling Howard against lefties, as is the plan coming into the spring.
And then there were the two other hits for Howard - both singles - that made his day perfect. After one Grapefruit League game, Howard has 2 homeruns, 5 RBI and a 1.000 average.
Even with all of Howard's heroics, it took a single from Chris Coste in the bottom of the ninth to give the Phillies an 11-10 win over the Yankees. Three Phillies errors led to two unearned runs for the Yankees, who tied the game in the top of the ninth off closer Tom Gordon.
Non-roster player Peter Bergeron had another good game, collecting three hits and driving in two runs in his quest to win a utility outfield job with the Phillies.
The only pitcher to escape unscathed was young Brian Sanches. He pitched 1 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and a walk, but no runs. Gordon blew a save opportunity, giving up two runs in his inning of work although he eventually was rewarded with the win when the Phillies came back to win the game.
The Phillies have a split-squad setup for Saturday. One squad will stay in Clearwater to play the Venezuelan team featuring Bobby Abreu and Tomas Perez. Brett Myers will start in that game, while newcomers Daniel Haigwood and Giovany Gonzalez are slated to pitch for the Phillies in a game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin.