After weeks of what felt like nothing but agony and torture, last night's victory in the first game against the San Diego Padres was a huge relief, at least for one night. To start, A.J. Burnett looked impressive. Coming off of some pretty disturbing performances, the veteran was crafty and held his opponents to low number on all accounts. Marlon Byrd was superb as well, collecting four of the five runs the Phillies accumulated in the contest. He also reached double digit home runs on the 2014 campaign. Finally, amidst a ton of controversy with both Philly fans and media members, Jonathan Papelbon had a special outing for the team. He came out and recorded his first save since the end of May, and it was the 300th of his career. While only a fraction of those 300 came with Philadelphia, it was still an exciting accomplishment to witness. Tonight, Cole Hamels looked to role with the momentum from not only last night's game, but his own start against Cincinnati. He'd face Tyson Ross.
The Game: If you're a fan of good old-fashioned pitchers duels like our own Greg Vince is, then tonight was an absolute treat. The only bit of trouble for either hurler came in the fourth inning. A few base hits and a walk allowed San Diego to load the bases against Cole Hamels, but they'd get nothing to show for it. Tyson Ross was outstanding for the Padres, going seven full innings without allowing a run on just five hits. Hamels had a similar night, throwing an inning more than Ross, while also allowing five base hits and collecting eleven strikeouts. The Phillies had a couple runners on against Joaqin Benoit in the eight, but also failed to capitalize.
Jonathan Papelbon came on to pitch the ninth in a scoreless game. He'd allow a baserunner, but he'd be erased on an attempted steal. That brought us to the bottom of the ninth with the Phillies getting a chance to bring the win home. It began poorly, when last night's hero Marlon Byrd struck out for the fourth time in the game. Domonic Brown would walk next, and Carlos Ruiz would get nailed on the wrist by a Nick Vincent pitch. This set the stage for third baseman Reid Brignac to break through again, and did he ever.
On a 2-0 slider, Brignac ripped one into the right field stands for a walkoff, three-run home run to send the Padres packing. It was Brignac's first home run of the season, and his third, fourth, and fifth RBI. While Hamels was outstanding, Papelbon got the win in the 3-0 Phillies victory.
Impact: Of course, Reid Brignac's walkoff shot will be the highlight of tonight's contest. However, Cole Hamels was the real MVP of the game. His eight innings were incredible, and coupled with his previous outing, Hamels has gone two straight games without giving up an earned run. Papelbon is worth a mention as well, as he's given up just a single earned run in his last 24 appearances. Look out for his name to be on the trading block this summer.
Up Next: The Phillies and Padres wrap up their series tomorrow night in the finale of their three game set. Kyle Kendrick takes to the bump to battle Eric Stults at 1:05.
Andrew Gillen, Managing Editor of Philliedelphia.com