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Howard, Utley Help Hamels Start Off Right

Are the Phillies this good, or are the Nationals just this bad?  The Phils, behind five innings from Cole Hamels, dropped eight more runs on Washington, taking game two of the series, 8-4. Hamels wasn’t great, but he was good enough to allow the offense to do what it does best – score in bunches.

The O got to starter Jason Marquis early, as he walked three batters and hit a Phillie in the opening inning. He was saved from an explosive inning by a double-play by Ryan Howard, although the Phils did manage to put two on the board. Hamels would then cruise through a couple of innings before finding trouble in the third. The “snowballing” that was such a problem for the lefty last year began to creep back in.  Ian Desmond homered, Zimmerman and Dunn walked, Josh Willingham singled, and just like that it was 2-2.

In the 4th inning, Hamels helped his own cause with an RBI single, but was let down by a Ryan Howard error which opened the door for the Nats offense yet again.  Ian Desmond would knock in the Nats third run and after five innings, Hamels would depart with just a so-so line.  He would give up five hits, walk four batters, and strike out five – not exactly a ringing endorsement from a guy who is looking for a major turnaround.  After all, these are the Nats.

The Phils would score three times in the top of the 5th inning to give Hamels a win, but was it deserved?  He certainly has to show us more before we make the proclamation that “he’s back.”

The offense has been nothing but spectacular through two games as Ryan Howard launched his second home run in as many games; this one going about 450 feet to right-center.  Polanco, Utley, and Ruiz each had two hits, but lets focus on Polly.  The guy is hot right now as is evident by his crossing the plate three more times tonight.  So far, he’s making Ruben Amaro look like a genius.

After Cole came Chad Durbin, who was solid for two innings out of the bullpen.  However, Danys Baez faltered by allowing two baserunners in 1/3 of an inning. These two guys will be called up quite a bit as Romero and Lidge return to form. Ryan Madson was filthy as he picked up a four out save.

As for Hamels, let’s give him a month before we get too low, or too high, on the guy.  My guess is the Phillies are pretty damn good, and the Nats have some work to do.

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