Ladies and gentlemen, meet Cole Hamels. Again.
Hamels' inconsistency and struggles from the summer of 2009 were forgotten for another night, as the young lefthander pitched an absolute masterpiece against he visiting Giants, holding them to just two hits and one walk in throwing his second shutout of the season, and fourth of his career. He struck out nine, and for good measure, stole a base in the second inning. He threw just 118 pitches, 80 for strikes.
Hamels was nearly matched by Giants' starter Jonathan Sanchez, who held the Phillies to just one run on a fourth inning RBI double by Ryan Howard. Sanchez struck out eight in his six innings of work, but had to come out of the game due to a high pitch count.
The Phillies benefited from some great defense yet again, including some terrific infield play from Jimmy Rollins.
Cole has now thrown 17 19 consecutive shutout innings, going back to last week's game in Pittsburgh.
This is the Cole Hamels we saw last October, and this is the Cole Hamels who can lead the Phillies to another World Championship. A one-two punch of Cliff Lee and a dialed-in Cole Hamels would probably horrify the rest of baseball.