Poor Cole. He throws gems for three straight outings and leaves with one win. Tonight, against one of the worst teams in baseball, he’s struggles, yet, was in line for a win. Hamels wouldn’t receive a decision, but some power baseball by the Phillies sent them to a 9-5 win – their 6th straight.
It wouldn’t be a Phillies victory without a daily injury. This time it was Shane Victorino who took himself out of the game with a left oblique strain. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow to find the extent of the damage.
Hamels labored his way through his five innings, throwing 108 pitches. He allowed three earned runs on six hits and four walks. The crispness of his previous three starts was missing, however, Hamels did manage eight strikeouts over 15 outs. Missing was his control, something that has been evident over the past month, just as it was throughout 2008. Tonight, though, Hamels could not find a groove. Home plate umpire Tim McCleland appeared to have a fairly tight strike zone on the night, which could be the culprit for those four walks Hamels surrendered.
The power bats came out and imparted damage through multiple crooked innings, something that has been absent for the better part of the season.
An RBI single by Ryan Howard tied it at one in the third inning and a few batters later Carlos Ruiz milked a bases-loaded walk to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Hamels would relinquish that advantage with single runs in the fourth and fifth frames, one being a monster home run to dead center field by slugger Mark Reynolds.
With Arizona holding a 3-2 fifth inning-lead, the Phils would strike for two in the bottom half thanks to Jayson Werth’s first home run since June 23rd against Cleveland. Quickly, that lead would evaporate as the see-saw affair continued in the sixth with Arizona putting two on the board. No worries, the offense was on a mission.
The Phillies put up three in the bottom half as Raul Ibanez started off the scoring by singling home Shane Victorino. Howard then deposited one into the seats just beyond the Southwest Airlines sign (Grab your bat, it’s on) giving the Phils a two-run cushion.
For insurance purposes, Cody Ransom went yard in the seventh to give the Phillies a 9-5 lead, which was plenty of support for the back end of the ‘pen.
Howard was the brightest offensive star on this night, raising his average to .302 with his 6th inning bomb off losing pitcher Jordan Norberto. Could this be his most complete year since his MVP season of 2006? Howard is locked in and his numbers that felt pedestrian at the mid-point now seem rather explosive in this year of the pitcher.
That, and it’s easy to find a groove if your hitting against the Diamondbacks pitching staff. They have, by far, the worst numbers of any National League team out of the bullpen, and the Phillies exploited that often.
As for the Victorino injury, he said he felt it grab on a diving attempt back to first base in the bottom of the sixth inning. Victorino then felt a pull when he caught a fly ball in the top of the 7th and decided to nip it in the bud.
When asked if he thinks it’s severe enough to require an all-too-familiar DL stint, Victorino said, “no, I hope not. I don’t think it’s that bad, I hope it’s not that bad. But, again, I won’t know until I take the MRI in the morning.”
Could this mean a Domonic Brown sighting in Philadelphia? If Vic needs time to heal, Brown could very well be on his way from Allentown to the pros in no time. Tomorrow promises to be a very interesting day for Victorino, who was hitting the ball quite well all night, for Brown, who could make a Major League appearance soon, and for this Phillies team, which keeps on winning, even though the injuries continue to pile up. Add that to the nonstop trade rumors surrounding this team and you’ve got yourself one hell of a Wednesday on tap.
NOTES: David Herndon struggled in his one inning of work but was the winning pitcher for the Phillies, his first win as a major leaguer.
-Hamels has posted a 2.16 ERA in July.
-The Phillies have won nine in a row at home, their longest home streak ever at CBP.