Cole Hamels had won his last eight decisions coming into today’s game, but nine in a row was not meant to be, as the Marlins defeated the Phillies, 5-4, in a game where Hamels would take the loss.
HAMELS NOT QUITE HIMSELF
– For the second game in a row, Hamels looked slightly off. Like his start in New York, he wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t as good as he’s been most of this season. He has an ERA of 5.52 over his last two starts, which is more than three runs higher than the 2.22 ERA he posted in his first nine starts.
– Hamels sailed along early, getting through the first three innings rather easily. He ran into some trouble in the fourth, though, when he was touched up for two runs on a Hanley Ramirez home run and an RBI double by Justin Ruggiano. A runner caught stealing by Carlos Ruiz—Have you voted for him yet today, by the way?–and a ground out would get Hamels out of the inning without any further damage, but it wouldn’t be the end of the scoring for Miami.
– The Marlins took a 4-3 lead in the sixth when Ramirez hit a two-run homer to left–his second home run of the day off Hamels. A clearly frustrated Hamels let out a loud, exasperated expletive as soon as the ball was struck. The long ball has burned Hamels lately, as he’s now allowed four home runs in his last two starts after allowing five home runs in his first nine. A Jose Reyes two-out, RBI double would make it 5-3 in the seventh, and end the day for Hamels.
– The Marlins have had Hamels’s number this season. In both his starts against them, he’s allowed a combined eight earned runs over 12 innings pitched, which equates to a 6.00 ERA. The loss is the first for Hamels since April 9th, which was the last time he faced the Marlins.
SMALL BALL EARLY
– In the first inning the Phillies were able to manufacture a run using a little small ball. After Jimmy Rollins struck out, Juan Pierre singled. That was followed by a Hunter Pence walk to put runners on first and second with one out. On Ricky Nolasco‘s next pitch, Pierre and Pence were able to execute a perfect double steal. The move would prove to have a twofold beneficiary effect when Ruiz grounded to first a few pitches later: Firstly, it kept the Phils out of a possible double play; secondly, it gave the team an early 1-0 lead, though they wouldn’t be able to hold it. They’d get another run in the second on an infield single by Rollins.
PATIENT PENCE SHOWS POWER
– As mentioned above, Pence’s walk was integral in the Phillies scoring a first-inning run. Walking is something Pence has been doing more of lately after taking early criticism for being too jittery at the plate. He now has seven walks in his last ten games. During the month of May, Pence led the Phillies in walks with 17, after working just four in the month of April. But walking isn’t the only thing Pence has been doing more of lately…
– In the third inning, Pence made it 3-0 with a home run to left. It was his 13th of the season. Before this season, Pence had never finished the first half of a season with more than 12 home runs. The obvious supposition is he’s hitting more home runs because he’s playing at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, but he has seven home runs on the road this season, compared to six at home. Pence has never finished a season with more than 25 home runs, but he’s more than halfway there, and today was just the 54th game of the season. He’s homered in his first two games during the month of June, after homering eight times in May.
– Pence would drive in another run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to make it 5-4. The Phillies would threaten in the ninth against Heath Bell, but Pence’s sacrifice would be the last time they would score on the day.
– The Phillies will go for the series win tomorrow when they send Joe Blanton (4-5, 5.05) to the mound against Carlos Zambrano (3-3, 3.00).
– Jimmy Rollins had two hits today and extended his hit streak to six games–tying his season high.
– The Phillies have beaten the Marlins in back-to-back series, and five of the last six dating back to last May. They’ll try to make it three in a row tomorrow afternoon.