Ryan Howard's disappearing act

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Much has been made of Alex
Rodriguez’s World Series struggles, but after his two-run blast on
Saturday night, the focus has now shifted to Ryan Howard, who is just
2-for-13 with nine strikeouts over the first three games of the series.




Howard struck out in six straight
at-bats between Game 2 and Game 3. He has yet to draw a walk during the
series. The Philadelphia slugger is just three strikeouts away from
tying
Willie Wilson,
who set a World Series record in 1980 by striking out 12
times
.



“I mean, hey, that’s baseball,” Howard said. “You have it one day, it
may not be there the next day. The only thing you can do is show up
again the next day.”




It might not be Howard as much as an overt strategy by New York. Nine of Howard’s 13 plate
appearances have been against southpaws, of which he is batting .222
(two doubles vs. CC Sabathia in Game 1). The Yankees have given him a
steady diet of curve balls and sliders low-and-away. With five
strikeouts in nine at-bats against left-handers, Howard is chasing the breaking pitches with regularity. The
Yankees seem to be well aware of Howard’s feeble .653 OPS against
left-handers during the regular season and are taking advantage of it.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.