Cole Just Being Cole

10 Jul

Who was that guy on the mound last night?  He looked a lot like a pitcher we used to have.  You know the guy.  They used to call him Hollywood.  He won the World Series MVP in 2008.  Yep, it’s Cole Hamels looking a lot like the pitcher the Phillies thought they signed to that $144 million contract last year.

Hamels was masterful last night giving up six hits and only one run as the Phillies beat the Nationals 4-2.  It was the first time this season that Hamels has won back-to-back starts.  But that doesn’t mean it was easy.  The game took on an almost play-off atmosphere in the eighth inning, something not often seen this year at the Bank.

“That was the most exciting eighth inning I’ve had in a long time,” Hamels said of the energetic crowd of 33,502. It felt like there were 60,000 fans, so that was awesome to see that from the fans on every pitch. Definitely brought the energy level back.”

Hamels had loaded the bases with one out in the eighth when manager Charlie Manuel walked to the mound.  But this was one of the rare occasions when Charlie didn’t plan on making a pitching change.  Hamels joked later,

“He wanted to give me a mental breather.”

This was a not so subtle reference to Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee pushing back Hamels’ previous start two days to give him a “mental break,” something that Hamels said he did not need at the time.

Manuel gave this account of his conversation with Hamels on the mound:

“I’m not out here to take you out. I came out here to look at you. He [Hamels] kind of grinned. I said, ‘You got him?’ He said, ‘I got him.’”

And Hamels rewarded Charlie’s confidence.  He struck out Ryan Zimmerman on three pitches.  Up next? Jayson Werth who had homered off Hamels earlier in the game to give the Nats their only run.  Hamels quickly got ahead of Werth 0-2 but then the battle began with Werth fouling off pitches until he worked the count to 3-2.  Finally Hamels got him on a deep fly ball to center giving Manuel a chance for something that has been rare this season, a post game laugh.

“Big-time battle,” Manuel said. “That’s what baseball is all about. Werth came close, but no cigar.”

It was the Phillies third straight win in this critical ten game home stand before the All-Star Break and their second straight against the second place Nats who the Phils trail now by only a game and a half.

The Phillies are now 4-1 on the homestand and have won six of eight overall.  And if Hamels is really back, the possibility of Lee and Hamels heading up his rotation could mean another rare occurrence for the Phils manager:

“That would mean that we definitely have a chance to win two games in a series,” . “That’s what that means. And I’d get my regular sleep.”

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