He’s back. It has been a roller coaster season for the lefty, but the 2008 version of the NLCS and World Series MVP showed up today. Cole Hamels pitched a complete game shutout en route to a Phillies 1-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants. It is the first time all season that the Phillies won a one to nothing game.
In a game that lasted only two hours and twenty minutes, Hamels and Jonathan Sanchez worked a pitchers’ duel, but it was Hamels who won the battle.
About 46% of the time, the Phillies rely on the long ball. Tonight, they played small ball. Shane Victorino flared a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a ground out. Ryan Howard’s RBI double down the right field line scored Victorino. It was plenty of support for a dealing Hamels.
In most of his starts, Hamels lacked location of his fastball. Tonight, he was in complete control, getting ahead of hitters. With the command of his fastball, he was able to throw his changeup effectively, and boy was it effective. He struck out nine, and at one point retired 21 straight. He allowed only two hits, a career best. He walked one.
Heck, Hamels even stole a bag, becoming the first pitcher since Curt Schilling in 1997 to do so.
As Tom McCarthy told our own Pat Gallen in today’s Phillies Nation podcast, Hamels was working on his pick-off move. Practice makes perfect and the hard work payed off. Rich Aurilia greeted Hamels with a single in the ninth inning. With a big hacker in Pablo Sandoval at the plate, pinch runner Andres Torres attempted to steal. Hamels had him picked off, but it was up to Howard to make a perfect throw. Howard normally has trouble throwing, but this time he threw a strike to second base, gunning down Torres.
Edgar Renteria popped up to Howard in foul territory to end the game and secure Hamels’ fourth career complete game shutout.
Hamels has now thrown 19 scoreless innings. As it gets closer to the postseason, this is the Cole Hamels the Phillies need and the Cole Hamels we all expect to see.