Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has been on the disabled list since August 2, a day after he suffered a badly sprained left ankle while running the bases. So far progress has been slow, but he did take a major step Thursday.
According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Howard took ground balls at first base and even took some hacks in an indoor batting cage on Thursday afternoon at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. He still has some swelling in the ankle and isn’t fully free of discomfort, but that should come soon.
“He’s doing real well,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after watching Thursday’s workout. “He’s coming along really good. It’s just a matter of time.”
Howard is still targeting August 17 as a possible return date, but that seems unlikely at the moment, especially if the Phillies ask him to head out on a minor league rehab assignment. The 30-year-old was batting .292 with an .884 OPS, 23 home runs and 81 RBI in 101 games before the injury.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.