I have a theory. Over the winter, Cole Hamels was visited by his previously unknown twin brother, Mole Zamels. Seeing an opportunity to make tons of money and be a world famous pitcher, Mole shaved his goatee, locked Cole in the basement, and started impersonating his brother. It didn't go well. He pitched awfully and often looked like he was about to murder his teammates. Surprisingly, though, no one thought for a second that it was Mole Zamels, evil twin of Cole Hamels, pitching. Mole thought he had it made.
Of course, now we know what happened. Using his God-given Independence Day strength, Cole escaped and pitched on July 4, his first thoroughly good start in ages. Tonight, he did one better and pitched a gem. Mole Zamels is dead. While dancing on the bones of Mole, Cole pitched eight innings, allowing six hits and just one run -- a Jayson Werth homer in the second inning. He struck out four and walked only one. The eighth inning, when Hamels almost lost it (and nearly had it lost for him, but more on that in a moment), featured the at-bat of the game. With two outs and the bases loaded, Jayson Werth came up with his team down three runs. After going 0-2 on a few generous calls, Hamels fell behind 3-2. He was saved when Werth hit a long fly ball out to right center, ending the inning. Antonio Bastardo closed it out in exciting/terrifying fashion an inning later. This is the first time all year Hamels has won back-to-back starts.
Though Cole Hamels has his powers back (and he gave a baseball a nice ride in the bottom of the third), we were also reminded tonight that the Phillies employ several fielders who are really fucking terrible. Michael Young may be able to hit a ball, but he doesn't seem able to catch one with any consistency. It doesn't matter if he's at third base or first base, he sucks at both positions. John Mayberry is supposed to be Delmon Young's defensive replacement, but he nearly fucked everything up two separate times tonight, once in the eighth and then again in the ninth. He so badly misjudged a fly ball off the wall that he was something like two feet from it when it came to him, though he'd clearly expected to catch it. (I'd like to remind everyone that Delmon Young is also bad, though he didn't showcase his lack of talent this particular evening.) Though it's not like the Nationals were able to field any better tonight. In fact they fielded much worse, as on-field miscues (whether recognized by the official scorer or not) led to all four of the Phillies' runs.
The Phillies will at least split this series with the Nationals, a hated division rival. They won their two previous series' against their other hated division rival, and the recent (though not current) owners of the best record in baseball. They are one game below .500, and at this moment just 1.5 games behind the Nats. I don't care what anyone says. I'm refusing to give up my optimism. I love the Phillies, and I love feeling good about them. Win, Phillies! Win!