Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hamels falters again as Yankees take 2-1 World Series lead

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
For a few innings, the Cole Hamels from 2008 was back. Unfortunately, one bad call in the 4th inning and the ugly 2009 version of Hamels reared its ugly head. The Yankees capitalized on Hamels' turn as they downed the Phillies 8-5 and took a 2-1 World Series lead.

Hamels was brilliant through 3 innings, not giving up a single hit while mixing up his fastball and change-up. Then, in the 4th inning, while facing Mark Teixeira, Hamels threw a 3-2 pitch that was in the strike zone but was inexplicably called ball 4. Hamels was rattled from that point forward, giving up a "home run" (more on this later) to the very next batter, Alex Rodriguez, then 3 more runs in the 5th inning as he played around with his curveball. What started out so promising for Hamels went south in a hurry as he was yanked from the game after allowing 5 runs in 4 and a third innings.

Of course, there was some controversy in that "home run" by A-Rod. Rodriguez hit a shot to right field that hit a camera that was positioned just over the fence and in the field of play. The hit was originally called a double but after going to the replay, the umpires decided it was a home run. It's difficult to really tell if the ball would have cleared the fence if the camera wasn't there, so I'm not quite sure how the umps had conclusive evidence that it was a home run.

As for the Phillies offense, it was pretty well neutralized by Andy Pettitte on the night. Pettitte gave up 3 early runs but then settled in and allowed only one run after that. He was particularly effective against the Phillie lefties like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez, who went a combined 0 for 12 on the night with 7 strikeouts against Pettitte and the Yankee relievers. The one hitter who was on tonight was Jayson Werth, who continued his hot playoff hitting by bashing two solo home runs.

The Phillies now find themselves in a position they haven't been in for a few years: behind in a series. They have a tough challenge tomorrow as they face Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia in a must-win game, but there is plenty of reason to still have faith. Sabathia isn't unbeatable, as the Phillies have beaten him twice in the last two years in the playoffs, and he is going on only three days rest. The Phillies will be using Joe Blanton, who won Game 4 of the World Series last year, so hopefully he can repeat that performance on Sunday.

Game 3 was a tough loss for a Phillies team that isn't used to trailing in a series. It proved once and for all that the 2008 Cole Hamels is dead and won't be resurrected for 2009. Winning Game 4 now becomes critical as the Phillies will now look to extend the series back to New York. Don't worry, Phillies fans, there is still plenty of fight left in this team.

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