Man, does he own the Cincinnati Reds. Cole Hamels did not get the win in Monday’s 3-2 Phillies victory, but he certainly deserved it as he came back from a DL stint with a vengeance.
After Hamels left, Shane Victorino smashed a two-run home run to right field to give the Phillies a two run lead, which ended up being just enough. Hamels’ counterpart, Homer Bailey, was nearly as exceptional on the mound, but he made one mistake that cost his team the game.
Hamels went six innings, giving up just two hits – one of which was a triple by Brandon Phillips that could should have been caught on the warning track in right field – and struck out seven Reds hitters, lowering his ERA to 2.58 in the process. Rust can sometimes play a factor when a pitcher hasn’t been in a game situation in 17 days, but for Hamels, that wasn’t an issue. His fastball had great life and his breaking pitches were crisp. Hamels tossed 76 pitches, 50 of them for strikes, including 10 in a row to start the game. The first nine batters of the game (on both sides) went down in order. Ryan Hanigan was responsible for the other base hit, a single to right field in the sixth.
Bailey held the Phillies down until the eighth inning, but Victorino changed that with one swing. After a Wilson Valdez single to lead off the inning, Michael Martinez was unable to move him up a base as a bunt attempt turned into a pop out to first baseman Joey Votto. The next hitter was Victorino, who launched a ball a few rows up into the right field seats. Victorino knew it right away; his home run trot gave it away.
The Reds starter was a hard luck loser on the night. Bailey fanned nine and did not walk a batter over eight innings.
Offensively, there was not much to talk about on either side. The two starters made the opposite lineup look foolish for the better part of the night, until Victorino broke it open.
The Phillies bullpen did its job for three innings, just as Hamels had done the previous six. Antonio Bastardo came in to pitch to Votto, Jay Bruce, and Yonder Alonso in the seventh – all lefties – and made Bruce and Alonso look like goofballs with back-to-back strikeouts after a Votto walk. Drew Stubbs then struck out on a bevy of wicked sliders to end the inning. Love that Manuel and Dubee went with Bastardo when it counted the most – it was the right move, kudos to them for not going in order of set up men.
Mike Stutes scuffled a bit, giving up a run in the eighth, but got out of it with the Phillies clinging to that one run lead. He was the recipient of some tough luck, as well, as Placido Polanco had a tough time with a couple of ground balls.
Ryan Madson put the lead runner on base in the ninth, but would get three straight outs for save No. 24.
Polanco had an all-around terrible evening, striking out three times and committing an error. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard each struck out twice.
But the biggest positive was a healthy Cole Hamels firing bullets after a long layoff.