Roughly an hour after announcing that Roy Oswalt had taken a leave of absence to be with his family in tornado-torn Mississippi, the Phillies decided to leave behind him without their tail between their legs.
That tail can wag freely after Cole Hamels stymied the Diamondbacks, keeping the Phils from being swept for the first time this year. Hamels wasn’t dominant, but was close enough as he went seven innings, allowing three runs, while striking out eight batters. For once, Hamels was actually helped by his offense; one that had been in a serious funk for quite a while.
It seems like light years ago when eight runs was simply adequate for the Phillies. Now, it’s only looked at as a possible stepping stone to a breakthrough. The eight runs were the most for the Phillies since April 10 against Atlanta when they tallied 10.
Jimmy Rollins was – finally – one of several catalysts on Wednesday afternoon. For Rollins, it had been 11 games since he last notched an extra base hit. On Wednesday afternoon, Rollins provided two of those; a first inning double scoring Shane Victorino and a fifth inning, two-run home run, both off Arizona starter Joe Saunders. There’s no telling whether this is a spark, but it is at least a start for the struggling number three hitter.
Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard homered as well, making this the first three-homer day for the Phillies since they put up 10 runs against the Mets on April 6. Ben Francisco knocked in two more runs with a first inning double.
Placido Polanco hit the ball everywhere except over the fence. Polanco’s 4-for-5 day raised his team-leading average to a gaudy .389, now tops in the National League. Quietly, he has been the team’s Most Valuable Player through the first 24 games. Polly wouldn’t have it any other way – he stays low-key and unassuming, although his numbers suggest otherwise.
The only blip for the offense (and defense) was the loss of Carlos Ruiz. Chooch left the game with lower back pain, which he felt after his first inning at-bat. Ruiz told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he is worried about it the ailment. Team physicians will examine him in Philadelphia on Thursday.
The departure of Ruiz did little to the psyche of Cole Hamels. He continued to dominate on the road, pushing his record to 7-1 in his last 10 road starts. In those 10 games, Hamels has only allowed 10 earned runs. Long gone are the days that Hamels would show frustration, specifically in a foreign ballpark.
While it was a win in the standings, losing Oswalt and Ruiz in the same day is a tough pill to swallow. Still, for a struggling offense, it is a building block.
BROWN IS BACK
Domonic Brown smacked a long home run in his first rehab game since breaking his right hand. Brown went 2-for-4 with a bomb that reportedly cleared the batters eye in centerfield. Could Brown be called up in a few days after his rehab assignment, or will the Phillies keep him in Triple-A to get at bats? Should be an interested few days regarding Dom Brown sometime early next week.