Cole Hamels was absolutely cruising through seven innings and into the eighth, when something stopped him. It wasn’t the Florida Marlins that did it, it was Hamels back that gave out in the Phillies easy 9-1 win. He would leave after 99 pitches with middle-back tightness. It’s really the only thing that could keep him from picking apart their NL East foes. The win for Cole was No. 9 on the year, tying him with teammate Roy Halladay for the NL lead.
It’s a shame they lost Hamels in this one, because it put a damper on a perfect evening. For the first time since June of 2010, the Phillies launched five home runs in a game, giving them the look of a dynamic offense, and it wasn’t even that warm. Domonic Brown smashed two of them, one in the upper tank, for the first time in his young, but blossoming career.
Chase Utley raked, hitting a home run and going 2-for-3 with two RBI before being pulled early. It was Utley’s third of the season. his average is up to .278.
Ryan Howard – he homered, too. In the bottom of the first, Howard held the hands back and put one out to left field to put the Phillies up 2-1, his 14th of the year. Looked like the Ryan of old. Jimmy Rollins also went yard for the fourth time this season, part of his 2-for-5 night.
It was an explosion from a lineup that hasn’t shown much power this season. But as many pundits said, wait until this lineup gets back together for a few games – that will tell the real story. Hopefully this was just the opening sentence. Either way, they manhandled Chris Volstad who has been just plain bad lately. The big righty is now 2-7 with a 6.07 ERA. A month ago they wouldn’t be able to hit a guy like Volstad, but tonight could be the start of them bucking that trend. I’d proceed with caution if you’re going to proclaim this offense to be “back,” although this was certainly nice to see.
Early reports say that Hamels only had a “knot” in his back, which will allow many to breathe a little easier. After the game, he exclaimed he would absolutely be making his next start, that his back tightened up a bit. Still, for a few minutes everyone muttered to themselves “knot again.” (Spell check, please).
With the injury seemingly not serious, lets look to the results of his outing, which were obviously stellar. Hamels continues to grow into one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball. Countless times he made the Marlins look foolish with his four-pitch arsenal. After a first inning in which he gave up the Marlins only run, he settled in to finish with six strikeouts over seven frames with a walk and three hits. Hamels lowered his WHIP from 0.96 to 0.92. His ERA dropped to 2.49.
How about Domonic Brown. How about that!? His swing looked powerful tonight, which makes this lineup look powerful from top to bottom. If this is just the beginning of what’s to come from Brown, we’re in for a real treat.
If the Phillies are being truthful and this is a very minor ailment for Hamels, then tonight turns out to be a fantastic one overall for the Phillies. Offense, pitching, the whole crew put it together.