Yes a Phillies win. And yes a four game sweep of the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds. All is good in Philly. Right? I don’t mean to get personal in a post game wrap up but this four game sweep doesn’t really make me feel any better. Yes, don’t get me wrong, a sweep is exactly what the Phillies needed going into the All-Star break.
However, playing against such a potent offense like the Reds you would think a sweep means the Phillies were back to their normal ways of smashing the ball and putting up crooked numbers. Not the case. Except for the ninth inning Friday night, every inning the Phillies have scored in this series has only been the one run. It did work don’t get me wrong. But nothing is fixed. The starting pitchers, minus Kentucky Fried Blanton, really stepped it up. The trio of Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels threw a combined 23.1 innings and allowed only 14 hits and one earned run. It was exactly what the Phillies offense needed only supporting their efforts with six runs over those three games.
The one good thing about the offense is they are putting the ball in play only striking out four times in this game. Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz each had a walk and a hit while Jimmy Rollins contributed the other two hits including an RBI single in the third inning scoring Ruiz for the only run of the game.
That was all Hamels would need. He didn’t allow a run for the first time in his 18 starts this season. This does not mean he is back to his ’08 form yet but he is getting there. He worked out a bases loaded with no outs jam in the fourth. Hamels only struck out three but was able to trust the defense with balls in play. He also had three walk throwing 112 pitches.
After escaping a jam in last night’s game, Brad Lidge came in for the ninth to record the final two outs for his sixth save of the season. He needed only five pitches to end the game.
Worth noting: The Mets beat the Braves 3-0 which puts the Phillies 4 1/2 games behind the Braves and only a 1/2 game behind the Mets.
It was bound to happen soon enough. I mean Cole Hamels is human. We all know that from last season’s World Series hangover where we saw Hamels struggle all year and in the playoffs.
Hamels has been working on new pitches to add to his arsenal this season. He is mixing in a curve and a cutter to go along with his fastball and change-up. And so far this spring they have been working. In over 10 IP, Hamels has only given up 5 hits and 2 earned runs while striking out 9. Today against the New York Yankees he lasted only 4 innings surrendering 9 hits and 6 runs.
Lucky for him some guys new to the Phillies uniforms helped bailed him out. After Hamels gave up a first inning run, the Phightins came right back with a five spot in the bottom half thanks to a two-run home run from new third baseman Placido Polanco and a three-run double from catcher Dane Sardinha who later hit a solo shot to tie the game up at 7-7 in the bottom of the eighth.
Hamels really got into trouble in the 4th inning giving up a triple to Ramiro Pena, who finished 2 for 4, and a two-run homer to Mark Teixeira to give the Yankees a 7-5 lead. Teixeira would go on to finish 4 for 4 and Hamels would barely finish the 4th inning. His day was done after recording the final out to end the 4th.
The Phillies then brought in a Rule 5 pick up David Herndon who has not given up a run in eight innings pitched this spring. He pitched two scoreless innings to keep Philadelphia in the game. Antonio Bastardo then came in with a little of the same not allowing a run in two innings while striking out three. Michael Stutes pitched a scoreless ninth to set of some more Philly dramatics.
Wilson Valdez hit a two out, two-run walk off home run scoring Greg Dobbs for the Phillies. It still is Spring Training but a win is a win.
On a side note – Sardinha was catching today for the regular everyday start Carlos Ruiz who was out with the flu.
The Phillies are 9-7-1 this Spring.
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I think the song goes….
“One, is the loneliest number…”
But today one is the magic number for my Phightin Phillies. Once again they hold their own destiny in their hands. And the best part about it is, Fox wants the whole nation to see it on national television. That’s right, the game is moved up from its original start time of 7:05. The Phillies v The Nats will be on Fox at 3:55 Eastern time.
And with the Mets losing last night all the Phillies have to do is win today. A win today means they can rest Cole “Minor” Hamels tomorrow and have him ready for game one of the NLDS. I know this pitching staff has not been the strongest, but I do have faith that they can get 3 wins out of that series. This is the year. Philly sports are back!!!
With the win last night, the Phillies have 90 wins, something they haven’t done since 1993. And coincidentally that is the same year they went to the World Series. Lucky for them, there is no more Joe Carter and Brad Lidge is nothing like Wild Thing Mitch Williams. Actually, Lidge may be the complete opposite of Williams. Bullpens win ball games!