The Ace. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
That was satisfying.
Cole Hamels made a statement early, drilling Bryce Harper, the Son of Chipper, in the back with a fastball. Harper would advance to third and proceed to steal home blah blah blah, but it was the only run Hamels would allow in a hugely needed win. Hunter Pence went deep twice, en route to a 9-3 Phillies victory, averting the sweep tonight at the hands of the Nationals.
The Nationals worked some deep at-bats against Hamels but couldn't string together enough hits to do much of anything offensively. Hamels would finish with eight strikeouts and just one walk, allowing five hits and that famous hit batsman, which would lead to his only run allowed. After the game, Hamels admitted that he threw at Harper on purpose, sure to escalate this thrilling rivalry to the Next Level! An amusing comment, to be sure, but if I can editorialize a moment: It's too bad that admitting to drilling a guy in the back with a pitch may enhance Hamels' standing among a portion of the fanbase, and not his performance in the 2008 postseason, the five-plus years of dominant starting pitching, etc.
Speaking of glory days past, the Nationals suffered a personnel loss in the sixth inning, when former Phillie Jayson Werth slid in an attempt to catch a sinking liner off the bat of Placido Polanco in the sixth, breaking his left wrist. Injuries to Werth's left wrist nearly derailed his career prior to his arrival in Philadelphia. Hopefully, for his sake, he will just miss the six weeks they are projecting.
The Phillies carried just a 3-1 lead into the ninth before exploding for six additional runs off the Nationals' bullpen, including Pence's second homer of the night. Brian Sanches gave up two garbage time runs in the ninth before finally locking up the final out.
It was a bad series, but not the disaster that a sweep would have been. The Phillies return home for a three game series against the visiting Mets on Monday.