-Citizens Bank Park
No 162-0. That thought flew out of Citizens Bank Park early, aided by stiff winds and a pitchers inability to get batters out.
The Mets struck for six in the third inning, ending Cole Hamels night early in the Phillies 7-1 loss, their first this season.
Hamels clearly did not have anything working for him from the very beginning. In the first inning, Hamels stranded Angel Pagan and Jose Reye at second and third, respectively, with no out, getting David Wright to whiff, Carlos Beltran to pop out to second base, and Scott Hairston to strike out.
The second inning was of the easy, 1-2-3 variety. Hamels deposited the bottom of the order with just nine pitches.
A massacre ensued in the third.
The Fourth Ace would not finish the frame as he was battered and bruised for six runs on six hits. Chris Young – yes the starting pitcher – singled twice in the inning as the Mets sent 11 to the plate. Young actually became the first pitcher since Madison Bumgarner on September 23, 2010 to record two hits in an inning. In Mets team history – never happened before. That’s the kind of night Cole Hamels had. For giggles, Young would single again in the fifth, giving him a 3-for-3 game.
Although he wasn’t sharp, Hamels was not helped by home plate umpire Chris Guccione. Not to go homer on you, but several strikes were called otherwise in the third inning. The zone was the size of a raisin. To be fair, Hamels clearly didn’t have his best stuff tonight, nor did Guccione. His final line: 2 2/3 innings, seven hits, six earned runs, two walks, three strikeouts.
Hamels said afterward that he had good “feel” for his pitches, and did not blame his struggles on the lousy conditions. “I wasn’t getting ahead of guys, I wasn’t really getting good control of my fastball and then everything kind of strayed away from there, Hamels said. “I thought I made some really good pitches to a couple of the hitters, but unfortunately they able to put the bat on the ball and find the hole.”
Blame it on the cold and wind if you so choose, or maybe just blame it on April. Either way, Hamels continues to struggle early on – his career ERA ballooned to 4.46 during the opening month of the season.
After the Phils spotted them six in the third, a fifth inning rally ended with the bases full. With one run across – an RBI double by Placido Polanco scored Wilson Valdez – Ryan Howard had a chance to do some major damage.
In the first inning, Howard got out in front of a Young fastball and launched it into the third deck in foul territory. This time around, he couldn’t catch his heat – and by heat, I mean 87 to 89 on the gun – and rolled one over to second base to end the threat.
Howard’s dribbler to second base wasn’t the only dreadful at-bat of the night. Three times Howard fanned after a strong opening-series against Houston in which he struck out just Shane Victorino had several of those by himself, striking out three times and weakly grounding out to second base on another occasion. All told, the Phils left nine men on base.
One of the few positives in an otherwise terrible evening was Jimmy Rollins. J-Roll reached base twice and swiped a bag, looking like the shortstop of old. His seventh inning lineout to centerfield sounded great off the bat. Perhaps Rollins is indeed back to the J-Roll of old. Ben Francisco also provided two long, loud outs to deep left field that would have been long, loud home runs on a normal evening. Unfortunately, nothing about this night was normal from the start. Two of his rockets to left were smacked down by the wind and kept in the ballpark by a few feet.
On the other side, one of several Mets to take it to the Phils tonight was David Wright. He had four hits, tying a career high, stole a base, and knocked in two runs. Young wasn’t unhittable, yet did just enough to hold the Phillies down. Over 5 1/3, Young walked four and struck out seven, allowing a run over five hits. The Phils just could not take advantage of his average outing.
So much for 162-0.
Tomorrow: Mike Pelfrey vs. Joe Blanton, 7:05 pm.