Aces Up for the Phillies

—Citizens Bank Park

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz. The early 70’s Orioles had four-20 game winners, the last group to do so. Oakland had a ridiculous staff in the late 80’s led by Dave Stewart and Bob Welch. This trio starting to rise into the same category..

They may not have the win totals this year to back it up – Cole Hamels has just 12 – or the totals over a career to justify this lofty salute. And no, they aren’t quite Hall of Fame worthy (although at some point, all three could be). But right now, none of them can be beaten. They are turning into one of the greatest trio’s assembled in a long, long time.

Hamels is 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his last five starts. He hasn’t lost since August 19. Roy Oswalt gets the ball in the series finale with the Braves on Wednesday hasn’t suffered a defeat since July 30. He’s 7-0 in his last seven starts.  Roy Halladay, who pitches tomorrow, has been the Achillies heel of the bunch. Bringing it up the rear, Halladay has only won three straight games. Total slacker the Doc is.

(Off on a quick tangent and speaking of the Braves, how disheartening must it be for that team to come this far, to matchup against your biggest rival, only to have to pitch three guys 24 or younger right in a row?)

Counting up the numbers with super-awesome arithmetic, they’ve now won a combined 15 consecutive decisions for the Phillies. They can’t lose right now. They all feed off of each other, and why wouldn’t they? Each pitcher brings something different to the table, but they all share a common bond. They are kicking royal ass. But beyond that, they have a quiet confidence and it appears they are trying to one up the guy who pitched the night before.

Hamels talked about how being the “only guy” can be a stress. By “only guy,” he means the lone wolf of the staff; the guy with no others to back him. Hamels was that fella early last year. And in the process, he put undue pressure on himself, leading to a down season. This season is very much different.

“You know you don’t have to be ‘that guy’,” said Hamels. “You don’t have to carry a whole team on your back.” Sounds like he knows from experience.

This season, Cole’s had a little help from his friends – the two other guys who help make up H2O. Charlie Manuel was asked who he thought the ace of his staff was. Of course, all three are an ace on any team in the universe, but Charlie wouldn’t point at a partiuclar player. And why should he?  “Whoever pitches good on that night. Thats how I look at it.”

Of course, you have to believe that’s how the rest of Philadelphia views it too.

Perhaps it’s early to call them the mid-90’s Braves staff, as they haven’t had the overall success or longevity. With a postseason waiting for them over the 11 game hump, they have the opportunity to put themselves in that category. And while they may not have the numbers to match the old Orioles and A’s squads, the team success when they take the hill speaks for itself. With a few more wins, the NL East could be all but sealed shut. And you know who to thank for that.

Aces up.

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