Cole Hamels, the ace. He certainly has been pitching like it lately. And coming into a crucial three game series against the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies were looking for Hamels to continue pitching like one. Hamels is the third part of the three headed monster affectionately called H2O. The trio of Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt is the scariest top three out of any team in the Majors. Matched with an offense who continues to carve up starting pitching; this team is making their patented push to the playoffs to hopefully claim their fourth straight NL East title and third consecutive NL pennant.
Tonight, however, the offense wasn’t it’s usual ball punishing self. With Hamels on the mound, and the way he has been pitching of late, the Phils were in good hands. Hamels did not disappoint. He went eight innings allowing only six hits and one run while striking out six taking the win for the 3-1 victory. That is only the second run he has allowed in his last 39 1/3 innings of work where his ERA is so small I can’t even see it. In his last five starts his ERA is an astonishing 0.49 which puts his overall at a career best 2.43. With his performance tonight, he joins the rest of H2O with sub three ERA’s. Oswalt’s ERA with the Phillies is under two.
Hamels did work from behind giving up a run in the second inning but worked out a two on-bases loaded jam striking out Alex Gonzalez and inducing an inning ending double play by Melky Cabrera. This just shows how far along Hamels has come from last year and the year before. Before Hamels could have become frustrated with himself and lost focus. Tonight he buckled down and went to work. Each day growing more and more comparisons to his 2008 World Series MVP form. Something the Phillies will definitely love to see again.
The offense tonight managed only five hits scattered throughout the lineup. Placido Polanco, Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz all picked up RBIs for the Fightins. With those RBIs the Phillies now have seven of their eight regular starters with at least 50 RBIs. Jimmy Rollins, who has missed a lot of time on the DL, has 37.
The Phillies will send Roy Halladay to the mound tomorrow to try to increase their lead in the NL East, which is now at four games. Tonight’s win was the team’s eighth straight win. Since June 21, when the Phillies trailed Atlanta by seven games, the team has gone 42-15 to retake their stake at the top of the NL East. Now at 90 wins for the season, the Phillies only trail the Yankees (91) for most wins the Majors.
Brad Lidge pitched the ninth inning tonight for his 24th save in 29 chances. That is his 14th save in his last 15 chances. Oh and Chooch is leading the team in batting with a .299 average. Ice cream for everyone!