The Phillies have a winning streak for the first time in 22 days.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) June 12, 2014
The last time they won back-to-back games was the end of May, the 17-20 to be exact. It's been a long 22 days. Even tonight's win, which came about thanks to some last minute heroics, was thrilling in the most boring way possible. The Padres are not only bad, they're also a black hole of charisma. They were just nine navy blue and gray blobs, playing baseball. The San Diego Padres: like quaaludes in baseball form.
Though he didn't get the win, Cole Hamels is the man who made it all possible. Without his stellar performance tonight, the Phillies wouldn't have had the chance to win it. The fourth inning is the only one where Hamels faced a serious challenge. With two outs, the Padres managed two straight singles and a walk (the only one Hamels would allow) to load the bases. Hamels had been humming along until then, his pitch count under control. His laboring in the fourth (which he'd manage to escape unscathed) caused his pitch count to balloon, but that didn't stop Cole Hamels. After that, he pitched economically and practically mowed down his competition. In total, he allowed five hits over eight shutout innings, and struck out 11. This is Hamels' third double digit strikeout game of the season, with 11 being a season high. He threw 115 pitches, avoiding his third straight start of 125 pitches by just 10. His ERA is down to a sparkling 3.07.
That is Cole Hamels, ladies and gentlemen. Whenever you're feeling down about the Phillies, remember that they have Cole Hamels, a phenomenally talented pitcher who only 30. When he's in the zone, as he appears to be over his last few starts, he's one of the best pitchers in the game. If you ever need a reason to watch a game or even go to one, Cole Hamels is your reason.
Despite the scoreless game, the Phillies had enough chances to score. They left 7 runners on base over the course of the night, and were just 1-for-8 in with runners in scoring position. It was another night of singles, with five of the Phillies 6 hits being for a single base. They just couldn't string the singles together, and they couldn't get anyone close enough to actually tag home plate. Marlon Byrd earned himself a golden sombrero tonight, striking out four times. In the end, it was Reid Brignac who would score the winning run. The Phillies needed just one in the bottom of the ninth, and Brignac gave them three. Padres reliever Nick Vincent served up what Jamie Moyer called a "center cut fastball" and Brignac hammered it out of the park, scoring Domonic Brown and Carlos Ruiz along with himself. It was his first home run of the year, and his first as a Phillie.
Before the Brignac jack, the best moment of the game came in the bottom of the first inning. Jimmy Rollins singled (he's now just three away from setting the new all-time hits record), but doubled over in pain at first base. He'd fouled a ball off of what the radio guys thought was his toe, and he seemed to be in a fair amount of discomfort. Just as I was cursing the supreme being for being cruel and mean, Jimmy took off for second and made it safely. He barely stood back up again before he's running to third, having caught the Padres snoozing. Jimmy Rollins has still got it, folks. I won't let you say otherwise.
I love it when games end like this.