If the St. Louis Cardinals' final out in the 2011 NLDS seemed a little stranger than usual—more airless—this might explain it: Ryan Howard appears to have injured his achilles tendon grounding out to Nick Punto, who, seeing Howard collapse down the first baseline, ran halfway to Albert Pujols before underhanding the ball to first to end the game. Early reports indicated the injury might be a severe ankle sprain. Howard came into the Phillies clubhouse on crutches immediately after the game, and multiple reports from Twitter suggest he'll have an MRI tomorrow.
Howard could miss six to eight months if surgery is necessary, which means he's unlikely to be ready for the start of the season; the Phillies could begin Ryan Howard's five year, $125 million contract with John Mayberry at first base.
It was an incredibly exciting end to a playoff series that was filled with tight moments for both teams, but it's unfortunate that Howard might be feeling the effects in April.