It was a beautiful day in Philadelphia, and the Phillies made the most of it by capitalizing on a good start by Cole Hamels. The opponent was a rudderless Rockies team mired in last place in the NL West. Add a timely hit by Ryan Howard, excellent baserunning by Chase Utley, and two innings of scoreless relief, and you have a classic 2011 win for the Phillies.
With the win, the Phillies made it to 31 - 21 since the All Star Break, and they climbed to a mere 3 games below .500 on the year, keeping alive the possibility that they may be able to finish the season above .500 and allowing them to salvage something from 2012 other than post-traumatic stress disorder from the Junely March to Madness.
As was the case with the 2011 Phillies, this game had long lulls induced by steady, effective pitching, punctuated by moments of terror. The nutshell is that Cole Hamels, after being blooped nearly to death in the first, locked down the Rockies through the 7th. He helped himself with a walk and a run scored on a double by Ryan Howard in the third inning, during which Chase Utley showed he still has serious value on the bases, scoring from first. Dude was flying.
Hamels' numbers were: 7IP, 5H, 2R, 1BB, and 6K. Other than the first inning, he never faced any really serious trouble. At just over 100 pitches and with his spot coming up in a tie game, he was lifted. Had the Phillies been able to get him a lead of a couple of runs, I suspect he would have hit for himself in the bottom of the seventh. Hamels retired 9 hitters in a row in the fifth through the seventh. He was cruising.
Antonio Bastardo and Phillippe Aumont functioned as an effective Bridge to Eternity, allowing Johnathan Papelbon to come into a tie game and preserve the lead instead of horking it up like an elderly cat with chronic digestive problems. In the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies came through by the narrowest of margins, with John Mayberry poking a ball to shallow left that Carlos Gonzalez evidently trapped.
When the authoritative
story obituary is written on the Phillies' 2012 season, the ledger of "good" and "bad" luck will surely show greater imbalances than the Greek government or my personal beer fund, but it crept ever so slightly toward the black today.
Errata behind the jump.
Things that jumped out at me during today's game;
- When will we see Domonic Brown hit for power? I like his at bats. I like his on-base skills. The injuries, most notoriously the hamate bone break and lately the leg injuries, are likely sapping it, but I honestly hoped for more. He drove a ball to the track that I got a little excited about off the bat, and it made me think about how absent his power has been. I'm not officially worried, but I'm...concerned.
- How does Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario have a job, at least as a catcher? He can't catch.
- That Cole Hamels sure is something, isn't he? One inning of frustration, 6 innings of cold-blooded assassin.
- How in the name of god did John Mayberry get three walks today? THREE! Plus a game winning hit. Not a bad day for him as he continues his late-year surge trying to prove that he is an everyday player and not merely a 4th or 5th outfielder.
- Antonio Bastardo looked good after giving up a single to Dexter Fowler to start the 8th.
- Charlie Manuel, with decent options, is apparently able to play matchups, such as when he brought in Aumont to get the last out in the eighth.
- There is less and less justification (to the extent that there ever was) to giving Ty Wigginton playing time. He's terrible. I'd rather see any number of youngsters from the minors getting at bats in the bigs in Wigginton's place.
I don't take much from the Phillies beating the Rockies. The Rockies suck. But the Phillies have beaten some good teams in series since they returned to full strength. Good teams are also supposed to beat bad ones, though, so a win against the Rockies does have meaning. What can the out-of-contention Phillies take from this entertaining, but otherwise meaningless win? That they are good, at least when the starting lineup and bullpen haven't been ravaged by injuries. Look out, 2013.
Enjoy your second game of the day at 6:35 where we all get to see if Tyler Cloyd can continue to fool us and major league hitters into thinking he is good.
Fangraph of Ackbar (It's a trap!):