Phillies getting their money's Werth
Right fielder becoming a force of nature at the plate
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard called the rains and winds that caused a one-hour, 37-minute delay on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park a "tornado-cane."
He liked how "tornado-cane" rolled off the tongue.
He liked it so much that when asked after the Phillies' 12-3 victory over Cleveland about Jayson Werth's success at the plate the past week, Howard said Werth reminded him of a "tornado-cane." Werth is hitting .857 (6-for-7) with one home run and three RBIs in his past two games, and .395 (15-for-38) with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, eight walks and seven strikeouts in 12 games since June 10.
Werth had hit .133 (8-for-60), with three doubles, two homers, six RBIs, six walks and 23 strikeouts in 18 games from May 19 to June 10.
The difference? Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Werth has opened his stance a bit, which has helped.
"It just kind of got me out of my ... whatever I was in," Werth said. "Just kind of change things up a little bit. I've done it in the past. Just messing around with some different stances and setups and stuff. I think I did that last year at some point."
In the quest to end his slump, Werth watched video of home runs he hit last season. He said he found one he hit against the Milwaukee Brewers, which showed him hitting with an open stance. It worked then, so why not try it now?
Combine Werth's recent turnaround with Chase Utley hitting .394 in his last nine games, Howard hitting .417 in his last six games and Raul Ibanez hitting .300 in his last 14 games, and it's easy to understand why the Phillies have won six of their last eight games.
And to think, Phillies fans were worried last month.
"We've got a long way to go," Werth said. "We've got 90-some games left. We're fine. We fell into a little bit of a rut. It's good to have [Jimmy Rollins] back. [Ryan] Madson is close. It looks like [J.A.] Happ is getting close. We were missing some big pieces to the puzzle and it's a big deal.
"Honestly, the standings and all that stuff make no difference right now. What we did in '07 and '08 coming down the stretch, we made up a lot of games in not a whole lot of time. There's no reason to worry or get too upset. We're the same team that's done what we've done the last three or four years here, and I think some people need to remember that."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.