Cole Hamels. Adam Wainwright. Both former World Series stalwarts for their respective franchises, both on different levels the past few seasons. Both were fantastic tonight. Only one could have his team walk off with a victory and for the Phils it was a walkoff home run by Carlos Ruiz that sent the Phillies to a 2-1 win in 10 innings.
A sharp Hamels went 8-plus innings and was in a groove from the get-go, using all of his pitches with ease, while keeping the Cardinals hot bats off kilter. This was a performance that rekindled the romance this town had with Hamels after 2008.
In the 5th, Hamels found himself in the only jam of the night. With the bases loaded and two out, Pujols swung at a first pitch fastball and popped it up to shortstop to end the threat. Many times before, that sort of inning would go against Hamels – not tonight. His poise was apparent, and the crowd certainly noticed throughout. Charlie said Hamels’ downhill plane was good and his command made his evening a positive one. Then, it happened…again.
Another jackass jumped onto the field during Hamels’s first pitch of the 9th inning, in a game where he had full control. The delay seemingly affected Cole’s rhythm and compsure. The rest, you can figure out. Two doubles later, the game was tied and Charlie was strolling to the mound. Another great performance wasted. Another sharp outing resulting in something other than a win, which was much deserved.
Countless times the faithful rose to their feet for the man they once called “Hollywood”. Is Hamels back to being that old bright lights guy? We’ll wait to make that assumption, but he certainly looked like the man of old.
Adam Wainwright was every bit as good, but his trouble came in the 7th inning thanks to a player formerly MIA. Raul Ibanez nailed one back by the Turkey Hill sign in right-center, turned on the jets, and got himself a triple. Carlos Ruiz’s sac fly would send him home with one out in the 7th.
After the idiot fan jumped on the field for his attempt at 15 minutes of fame, Hamels would allow the tying run, and an extra frame became necessary. In the bottom of the 10th, after a solid inning by Jose Contreras, Carlos Ruiz nailed a pitch down the line in left that swung just foul, missing the pole by a few feet. A couple of pitches later, Ruiz would straighten it out and launch the game-winner into the first row in left field.
Overall, it was certainly a satisfying comeback, considering it very well could have been Hamels’ first complete game shutout since June of last year. No doubt, the fan who played copycat will get his play on TV and the like, but forget about that joker. The real story is the apparent revival of one of the best pitchers in the National League.