Sunday, July 11, 2010

Phillies sweep their way to the All-Star break

You really couldn't have asked for a better finish to a rollercoaster first half of the Phillies season. Facing the NL Central leading Reds, the Phillies rode a strong performance by Cole Hamels on Sunday to win their second consecutive 1-0 game and complete a four game sweep of Cincinnati.

Pitching was once again the story as Hamels scattered 6 hits and 3 walks in 7 and 2/3rds innings. He didn't have his best stuff but he did manage to work his way out of some tight jams, including a bases-loaded and no outs situation in the 4th inning. Once Hamels was pulled in the 8th, the bullpen trio of Jose Contreras, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge held on, allowing only one batter to reach base as they shut the door on the game.

The win capped a great series against the Reds where the Phillies seemed to get every key hit and catch every break. Given that the Phils only outscored the Reds 15-10 in the entire series, it's remarkable they were able to sweep all four games.

Now the Phillies enter the All-Star break with some real momentum. While some may argue that the All-Star break comes at the wrong time for the suddenly hot Phillies, I think any time off this banged up group can get is time they can use to heal and gear themselves up for a second half where they are going to have to be great if they want to make the playoffs. With the 4.5 game deficit they face in the division and 1.5 game deficit they face in the Wild Card, the Phillies are going to have to do some serious damage if they want to make the playoffs for the 4th straight year. More solid pitching performances like they have had over the last few days and a little more hitting will go a long way towards making that happen.

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