Fans of offensive baseball would be severely disappointed with last evening's ballgame. They'd also be discouraged with the pitching matchup set for today's afternoon contest. Cole Hamels, easily the best starting pitcher on the Phillies this season, has been worth every bit of his $100+ million contract. Pitching for San Francisco is Tim Hudson, who, after dominating the Phillies while with the Atlanta Braves, has seen his career be resurrected following his fatal injury last season. As the two set to do battle, talks of Ryan Howard's extended period of rest became even more rampant. Stories continue to release regarding the organization's desire to either trade or fully release Piece from the team. Howard would be sat once again this afternoon in favor of Darin Ruf.
The Game: Hoping to take off on the right foot, the Phillies scored right away on Tim Hudson, the active leader in wins against the Phils. With one away, Jimmy Rollins recorded double number sixteen on the campaign. A five pitch walk to Chase Utley next put two on for cleanup hitter Marlon Byrd. A line drive base hit into left field scored Rollins from second and allowed the home team to open up a 1-0 lead.
A dropped popup by Michael Morse in left allowed Ben Revere to reach bae to lead off the fifth inning. Despite J-Roll striking out, Utley came through with an RBI single to score Revere. It was just two runs for the Phillies on the day, but it would be all they needed with ace Cole Hamels on the hill.
King Cole was absolutely brilliant early on. Through the first three innings, Hamels had thrown just 37 pitches, and 30 of those were strikes. Every one of his pitches had precise movement and positioning, and even had an extra bit of zip to them. Take a look at this tweet from FanGraphs writer Eno Sarris regarding Hamels this afternoon:
I don’t understand how Hamels could be throwing 3 mph harder today than he has all year. He hasn’t *ever* averaged 94 for a month.— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) July 24, 2014
Whether it be a case of tail wind or some other being, it was one terrific performance. Even Wil Nieves noted the change, saying Hamels reached 94-95 with extra life on the ball. With that much speed and power, the already near untouchable left-hander had an even bigger advantage. His one blemish came in inning number five, where a Gregor Blanco single led to an RBI base hit from Ehire Adrianza three batters later. He'd give up just the lone run in eight innings of work.
Despite throwing three innings and over fifty pitches the last two days, and with Ken Giles getting warmed up in the pen, Jonathan Papelbon came in to close out the ninth. Anxiety was at a high, with the worry of a tired arm hurting the closer. However, with just ten pitches, Papelbon saved the game for Cole, and helped to end the Phils four game skid. With the Arizona Diamondbacks coming into town, the Phillies now have at least a victory.
Impact: With just about everyone accepting the dreary future of this particular Phillies team, it's games like these that are most fun. Even if the team cannot compete, having guys like Cole Hamels put on spectacular performances like this one (in what very well could have been his final start in Citizens Bank Park with the Phillies) help to put a smile on the faces of the fans. Chase Utley, Marlon Byrd, and Wil Nieves all collected two base hits in this game as well.
Up Next: The next home series begins against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wade Miley takes to the mound for the west coast squad, while Kyle Kendrick makes his next start for the Phillies. Game time is set to begin at 7:05 PM.
Andrew Gillen, Managing Editor of Philliedelphia.com