TONITE: Ryan’s Hope


[Illustration by JAY BEVENOUR]

DAILY NEWS: The Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series is batting .158 in the World Series. He’s already struck out 12 times, a whiff-a-thon that has already tied the all-time record. So, Charlie Manuel, can your Phillies come back and win the World Series if Ryan Howard doesn’t find himself? “Yes, we can,” the manager said with conviction late yesterday afternoon at Yankees Stadium. Pause. “We can win it easier if he hits, though.” The Phillies trail the best-of-seven series, three games to two, despite getting little production from their cleanup hitter. And here’s one of the mysteries of baseball: How can a hitter be so hot down the stretch (.316-19-59 in the last 50 regular-season games), in the NLDS against the Rockies (.375 with six RBI) and in the NLCS against the Dodgers (.333-2-8 and the previously mentioned MVP) and then turn so stone cold in the World Series? There are no absolute answers. But here are five theories. MORE

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