It happened again. Much like 2010, Ryan Howard failed in the final at bat of the postseason, in Philadelphia, and a visiting club danced on the Citizens Bank Park field.
As awful as that scenario is for Phillies fans, the scene was worse this time around as Howard fell to the ground after he dribbled a grounder to second base and exited the batters box. Howard, who is set to start a 5-year/$125 million contract extension in 2012, clutched his lower left leg and was helped off the field by trainers and coaches. The injury, suspected to be a torn achilles tendon, could result in Howard missing the entire 2012 season.
Howard will have an MRI on Saturday for official diagnosis on the extent of the issue.
The Phillies again came up short in a crucial playoff game, allowing the Cardinals, who bursted into the playoffs with a late season surge, to continue their surprising ascent with a 1-0 victory.
From the start in the deciding game 5 of the opening round playoff series, the Cardinals took control, as shortstop Rafeal Furcal led off the game with a triple against Phils ace Roy Halladay. Skip Schumaker then drilled a double down the right field line to plate Furcal with the game's only run.
Halladay was exceptional the rest of the way, spreading out 4 hits and a walk over the next 7 innings, but he was outdueled by his former Toronto teammate Chris Carpenter. The Cardinals' right-hander shined, allowing just 3 hits through 9 innings, to notch his 6th career victory in the postseason.
The outing for Carpenter was a full 180-degree turn from the effort he put forth in game 2 of the series, when he did not make in beyond the 3rd inning.
Heavily favored throughout the entire 2011 campaign, Philadelphia will now head home to reflect on what could have been, while wild card entrant St. Louis will head to Milwaukee to battle for the right to play in the World Series.
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