Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hamels falters as Rockies even up series

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Today will be a memorable day for Cole Hamels but not for anything he did on the mound. Hamels, who everyone hoped would magically be the 2008 shutdown pitcher once again, had a poor performance in Game 2 for the Phillies, giving up 4 runs in his 5 innings of work. The Phillies eventually fought back into the game but the runs Hamels gave put the Phillies in a hole that they never climbed out of as they lost 5-4 to the Rockies. Oh, and the reason today will be memorable for Hamels? Heidi Hamels went into labor with the couple's first child.

Once Hamels was pulled from the game, Charlie Manuel started making some curious decisions with his bullpen. Instead of turning to the usual bullpen suspects, Manuel went with his starters, putting Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ in for the 6th and 7th innings. The move was a definite mixed bag as Blanton got through his inning unscathed but Happ got beaned with a line drive in the knee and had to be pulled from the game. The injury to Happ is the reason why you don't use all of your starters in relief. While Happ only has a knee contusion and X-rays were negative, he most certainly won't be in the mix to start on Saturday, forcing Manuel to go with a right-handed starter against the lefty-heavy Rockies lineup. Manuel still has two good choices in Blanton and Pedro Martinez but the Phillies have yet to announce who will take the mound for Game 3.

The Phillies did well to fight back in the later stages of the game but eventually fell short. Jayson Werth led the way with a homer as the Phils got all of their offense from their first 7 hitters. It would be nice if the team decided to score a few runs in the early innings but you can't fault the offense for this loss, they nearly had a win if Shane Victorino's line drive in the bottom of the 9th was just a little higher.

So the Phillies now head to Denver with the series tied at 1 game apiece. While some of the confidence of yesterday's loss has worn off, the Phillies are still in a great position to win the series. If they find a way to split the games in Colorado, they will head back home for a Game 5 and throw Cliff Lee out there in the deciding game. Of course, if they lose Game 3, they could always put Lee on the mound for Game 4 to ensure they won't get eliminated early.

Game 2 was a tough loss for the Phillies but there are plenty more games to be played in this series. Game 3 becomes the crucial game that gives one team a major advantage; let's hope the Phillies have a starter ready to give them some solid innings.

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