Ryan Howard hits 2 homers, continues hot streak

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Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard hit two home runs off of Mets starter Dillon Gee this afternoon, his seventh multi-hit game in his last 11 games. Since June 9, Howard has raised his OPS 98 points from .730 to .828 An Achillies injury that ended his 2011 and cut into a large part of his 2012, and a recent knee injury have both slowed the lefty slugger, but as we have moved into summer, his bat has caught fire.

Some of that, of course, can be credited to Gee, against whom Howard has had tremendous success:

The two-homer game was Howard’s first since August 30, 2011. It is Howard, arguably more than anyone else on the roster, that the Phillies needed to see pick up the slack, making his last two weeks all the more joyous for the club.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.