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Howard hits No. 50, adds Nos. 51, 52


The_Punisher
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PHILADELPHIA -- Nos. 50, 51 and 52.

 

That sums up Ryan Howard's day at Citizens Bank Park, or at least the first game of Sunday's doubleheader split with Atlanta. The Phillies slugger became the first Major Leaguer to reach the 50-homer plateau this season when he connected off Braves starter Tim Hudson in the second inning. He then roared toward 60 by crushing Nos. 51 and 52 in consecutive at-bats.

 

In smacking Hudson's first pitch of the second to center field, Howard extended his own franchise single-season record, set on Thursday, when he passed Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt with his 49th homer. The second one traveled further, landing deep in the visitors' bullpen. He capped his big day by sending one out to left field -- which has become his more typical home run location.

 

"I made some pretty good pitches," Hudson said. "Those first two homers were exactly where I wanted them. He's pretty hot right now. His last one was the most impressive one for me, because he's so far off the plate and it was a four-seamer up and away."

 

Howard became the 23rd player in Major League history to hit 50 homers in a season and shares company with the likes of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Jim Thome, the man he replaced at first base this season. The group of 23 has produced 37 50-plus homer seasons, but this is only the second since 2002.

 

Another member of the 50-homer club -- Atlanta's Andruw Jones -- clubbed the 50th of his 51 homers at Citizens Bank Park last year off Phils reliever Geoff Geary. Howard's clouts on Sunday gave him 133 RBIs, the most by a Phillie since Chuck Klein drove in 137 in 1932.

 

More impressive about Howard is that he's finding this success in his first full season, less than a year removed from winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award. His 52 homers set the Major League record for a sophomore, eclipsing the 51 hit by Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner in 1947.

 

In collecting his sixth multi-homer game this season, Howard is within one of tying Dick Allen for the franchise mark. Allen had seven such games in 1968.

 

Howard has also already had a seven-RBI performance this season, against the Yankees. Where does he rank his first career three-homer day?

 

"It's up there," he said. "It's something I've never done before. I'll put it up there in the upper echelon.

 

"I'm sure a day like today is going to be one of those days where I wake up and am like, `Did that really happen?"

 

 

 

Unlike his seven-RBI effort, the Phillies won this game, thanks to a two-run, ninth-inning rally that erased a blown save by the bullpen.

 

The second-year slugger's feats are becoming more impressive as the season continues. He's powered seven home runs during a 13-game hitting steak that has pushed his batting average to .308.

 

His 133 RBIs lead the Majors, and continue to state what's becoming a strong case for NL Most Valuable Player, as he distances himself from New York's Carlos Beltran and St. Louis' Albert Pujols, though Pujols also homered in his first three at-bats on Sunday.

 

"He's incredible, and he's been doing it all season," Brett Myers said.

 

One intrepid fan performed a poorly thought out and ultimately expensive tribute to Howard for his accomplishments. When the big slugger came to the plate in the eighth, the fan had made his way to within 10 feet of home plate, kneeled down and repeatedly bowed before Howard.

 

He then quietly put his hands behind his back and was quickly handcuffed and escorted off the field.

 

"I thought it was hilarious," Howard said. "I was digging in and had my head down, when I heard [braves catcher Todd Pratt] say, 'Heads up.' I looked up and the guy was already on the ground. I thought the whole thing was kind of funny."

 

What's not funny is the disdain Howard has shown for the opposition and the power he has to all fields.

 

"He can hit them out anywhere, right, center, left, it doesn't matter," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "He's super strong and stays on the ball so good."

 

 

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I remember FishFaninPA claiming he sucked before he got the call last year because the Phillies signed Thome during free agency.

 

Anyway, the guy's a beast and it's a shame all the roiders have blown up the records or there would be legitimate talk about breaking Maris' record.

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Incredible hitter, though his personality annoys the hell out of me.

 

In a way, I guess you could say that combo kinda sounds familiar.

 

 

I think it's more or less his cocky swing and pose at every fly ball he hits that drives me nuts. Plus he is a Philly. Now I understand why Beckett got pissed at him during Spring Training. On that note the guy is a beast.

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Incredible hitter, though his personality annoys the hell out of me.

 

In a way, I guess you could say that combo kinda sounds familiar.

 

 

I think it's more or less his cocky swing and pose at every fly ball he hits that drives me nuts. Plus he is a Philly. Now I understand why Beckett got pissed at him during Spring Training. On that note the guy is a beast.

I love Beckett but he leads the league in getting pissed at other players for no good reason.

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Incredible hitter, though his personality annoys the hell out of me.

 

In a way, I guess you could say that combo kinda sounds familiar.

 

 

I think it's more or less his cocky swing and pose at every fly ball he hits that drives me nuts. Plus he is a Philly. Now I understand why Beckett got pissed at him during Spring Training. On that note the guy is a beast.

 

The Philly media loves his personality, and not because he's controversial. It's because he's very approachable, very friendly, and above a a great guy. He's got an infectious smile that the media and fans are just latchign onto.

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His personality annoys the hell out of me for the reasons PhillyPhan stated above.

 

I mean, I only had to watch one interview with him to notice how incredibly fraudulent his personality is. The freakishly smiley cool-guy persona he goes out of his way to put forth is 100% a self-promoting, nutless fabrication.

 

David Wright is another one.

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Incredible hitter, though his personality annoys the hell out of me.

 

In a way, I guess you could say that combo kinda sounds familiar.

 

 

I think it's more or less his cocky swing and pose at every fly ball he hits that drives me nuts. Plus he is a Philly. Now I understand why Beckett got pissed at him during Spring Training. On that note the guy is a beast.

 

The Philly media loves his personality, and not because he's controversial. It's because he's very approachable, very friendly, and above a a great guy. He's got an infectious smile that the media and fans are just latchign onto. Oh i don't know sh*t about his personality. He could walk old ladies across the street everyday for all I know. I'm just going by his demeanor at the plate everytime he hits a fly ball like he is watching the Space Shuttle launch. I'm not discrediting his talent in anyway at all.

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