Archive | July, 2011

A Tale of Two Phillies: Pence Hopes to Make Phillies Better Now, Brown Heads to Minors to Be The Phils Player of the Future

31 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

What a difference a day makes for two players-newly-acquired Hunter Pence and

Hunter Pence was 1-for-5 in his debut as a Phillie.

Domonic Brown who was sent back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley-seemingly headed in opposite directions.

Pence was welcomed and embraced by fans at Citizen’s Bank Park with open arms and several standiing ovations. After all, he is that “missing” righthanded bat that the fans, the media and Phillies management have been clamoring for all year.

In his first at-bat, Pence received a huge ovation from the crowd already in an uproar after Ryan Howard uncorked a solo-homerun to the ivy bushes in center field in the second inning of Saturday game against the Pittsburh Pirates. He still got a standing ovation after he grounded out from to second to first on a close call even though TV replays indicated that he was safe.

In Saturday’s 7-4 win over Pirates, Pence’s presence did help Howard, who was 4-for-4 with a home run, an RBI-double, and a run-scoring single and three runs batted in. He was a triple short of the cycle. Manuel said Pence gives Howard some much needed protection in the Phillies lineup.

“I think it will help him some,” Manuel said. “I think the biggest thing that Ryan has to do is to be more selective himself. He has to make sure that he can cut down on swinging at balls out of the strike zone. If he does that, that’s going to make the pitcher come to him. I think that’s what our fifth hole hitter brings.”

That certainly came to fruition in the eighth inning when the Pirates intentionally walked Howard with a man on third. Pence got his only hit in five at-bats and RBI of the game when he smacked a single up the middle to drive home Shane Victorino.

“It’s kind of about what I’m here for,” Pence said. “They intentionally walked Howard and that’s what I need to do. If they’re going to do that, we got to make them pay and make them pitch to the big man. It was unbelievable to watch him hit. Hitting behind him is pretty nice.”

Before the game, Manuel talked about all the possiblitities that Pence’s brings to a Phillies that hasn’t had a solid right handed hitter since Jayson Werth moved on to the Washington Nationals for a big paycheck.

“With a left-handed pitcher, we can maneuver our lineup better,” Manuel said. “Sometimes Ibanez will be hitting sixth or seventh. Sometimes Polanco will be second, sixth or seventh. Sometimes Victorino might be sixth or second. It depends on who’s pitching.”

For Pence, it’s the opportunity to play for a team that’s contending for a National League pennant. He talked about going from playing for a last place to Houston Astros squad to playing for a team that’s experienced the taste of a World Series title. For him it’s the difference between night and day.

“When you look around here, you feel like you’re in an All-Star game,” Pence said. “I think wins give you a different demeanor and you can see it in all the people around. The way it was going in Houston, the demeanor is rough. It’s hard on you to lose every night. Any competitor or person that plays, it wears on you. When I come out with this team, looking around I just go out there and try to mix in.”

Meanwhile, Brown headed back to the minors to refine his raw talent. Brown was sent d

Dom Brown looking to hone his skills at Triple-A Lehigh. Photo By Chris Murray

own the Lehigh Valley to make room for Placido Polanco who was reactivated from the disabled list.

With the team looking to win a World Series in the here and now along with Brown’s share of growing pains at the plate and in the field, the Phillies organization is hoping that this trip back to the minors will allow him to play everyday while learning how to play a new position– left field.

“He struggled some defensively, but it was not from a lack of work,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “It was one of those things that we talked to Charlie (Manuel) about when we called him up. He’s not a finished product. I think he’s going to get better out there and he’s going to get more comfortable.

“It’s not easy to get comfortable in the major leagues when you’re playing for a contending team. It’s not a simple task for a young player.”

Amaro said the Phillies organization still believes in Brown and he believes that he has the tools to eventually be a solid player in the big leagues, but with the team trying to compete with teams like the defending champion San Francisco Giants for the National League pennant, the Phillies becoming a better team right now was more important.

“It’s going to take some time perhaps. I think he’s athletic enough that he’s going to be able to do that,” Amaro said. “We trying to do what’s best for him and what’s best for the Phillies.”

The night before it was announced that he was going back to Lehigh Valley, Brown tried to put a positive spin on what was going be another trip back to the minors. The tone of his voice seemed to indicate that the handwriting was on the wall.

“I understand that they have a lot of faith in me, but my goal is to be in the big leagues and be a big league player and that’s the bottom line,” said Brown, who went 1-for-5 with two runs scored in Friday night’s 10-3 win over Pittsburgh. “It’s a good possibility that it could happen, but I’m not going to bothered by (going back to the minors) you live and you learn and you grow.”

Howard said he could identify with Brown’s plight and how difficult it is to be back the minors after spending significant time with the big league club.

“This is definitely a tough time because you’ve been up here and you’ve gotten the experience up here. You have had a little bit of success, you’ve had a little bit of failure up here,” Howard said. “The biggest thing would be going back down there getting yourself right, getting your mind right to get back up here to stay up here.”

Manuel said there are specific things that Brown needs to work on both sides of the diamond and that he’ll work things out in time. He said Brown took being sent back hard, but he told him not to worry.

“I think Domonic Brown is going to be a good hitter,” Manuel said. “I think he has a chance to be a very a good hitter. (Friday night), he swung the bat good. When he’s smooth and he catches the ball in what I call the correct position out front and things like that. He has the talent to be a good hitter. He needs to work on his defense some. He’s got to learn how to be in the right position to learn how to unload the ball He needs to work on playing the game. . . .His position is way better than he thinks it is.”

Phillies Get Hunter Pence from Astros, Crush Pirates

30 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Nearly 24 hours after being handcuffed by the San Francisco Giants pitching staff

Phillies Hunter Pence's right-handed bat will give the Phils offense some much needed balance.

for their first two-game losing streak since early June, the Phillies took out their frustrations on a young Pittsburgh Pirates looking to make some noise in the race for the playoffs.

The Phillies jumped on Pirates starter Charlie Morton early and scored eights in the game’s first two innings. They scored three in the first and five more in the second. With Roy Halladay on the mound this game was over, it was the equivalent of an early round knockout in boxing.

But that wasn’t the only news of the night at Citizen’s Bank Park. As the Phillies were blowing out the Pirates in a 10- 3 victory, the team’s front office may have boosted their chances for a World Series title with the acquisition of rightfielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros in exchange for minor league prospects right-handed pitcher Jarrad Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton along with Josh Zeid, a right-handed pitcher from the Phillies Double A team in Reading and a player to be named later.

The right-handed hitting Pence comes to the Phillies with a .309 batting average with 11 home runs, 62 runs batted in, 26 doubles and seven stolen bases. The Phillies believe Pence will be a boost to a predominately left-handed hitting offense that has been inconsistent throughout the season.

“What we were trying to do as we always try to do was to address a need that we felt was a kind of a missing piece,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “We believe in our offense as it stands. It’s been a little inconsistent, not as consistent as has been in the past. I think this gives us a little more balance with a hitter from the right side for Charlie’s lineup. I think we acquired a player who is extremely well-rounded. His defense was important to us.”

Amaro said the thing that makes this deal good for the Phillies was that Pence will be under contract for the next two years and not a rent-a-player along the lines of a Carlos Beltran.

What was really good about this deal from the Phillies perspective is that they didn’t have to part with up-and-coming players like Domonic Brown and rookie pitcher Vance Worley.

Perhaps one of the motivating factors for this deal was the fact that Brown, who is batting .246, with five homeruns and 18 RBIs, has struggled in the field, especially in Wednesday night’s loss to the Giants in which his inability to get to a ball in right field led to the Giants getting what turned out to the be winning run in a 2-1 win.

But Amaro said the organization still values Brown and believes he’s going to be an outstanding major league player. With Pence’s arrival, Brown could be sent back down to the team’s Triple-A Lehigh Valley squad.

“We believe that Domonic Brown is going to be an outstanding major league baseball player and he’s done a nice job for us here,” Amaro said. “This is not a knock on Domonic Brown by any stretch of the imagination. We believe and hope that he’s going to be a Phillie for a long time.”

Outwardly Brown didn’t appear to be bothered by Pence’s pending arrival, but he said he understands that he has to play better, especially considering the high regard the Phillies organization has for him.

“I know what I need to do and I know I need to play better,” Brown said. “I don’t need anybody to come and motivate me because I’m already motivated enough. I don’t need no extra drive, it’s I’m not playing well. I’m trying to keep confidence up and do what I have to do and that’s it.”

Brown said he glad that Pence will be a good addition to the team even if he has to lose some playing time. He said he wouldn’t be bothered by the possibility of having to back to the minors to make room for Pence.

“It’s a good possibility that it could happen, but I’m not going to bothered by it, Brown said. “You live and you learn and you grown.”

Meanwhile, Manuel said Pence will probably bat fifth in the Phillies starting lineup and will give him for flexibility it give him against left-handed pitchers.

“Getting (Pence) also allows us to do some things with (Shane) Victorino and (Placido) Polanco ,” Manuel said. “We definitely should be able to find for more balance against left-handed pitchers and we won’t have to line those left-handed hitters up as much. I think it’s very important because they’re teams in our league, especially Atlanta, that has two or three left hand relievers. When you got three you can make it tough for us.”

Phillies starting Roy Halladay, who become accustomed to watching the Yankees and the Red Sox making bold moves before the trade deadline during his days in Toronto, said the move to bring Pence to the Phillies only makes them better.

“We’re definitely better, “ said Halladay, who allowed 0 runs on hit in seven innings of work on the mound. “We’ve liked our team from the beginning. I always felt like we had the players to do it. Anytime you can add that type of player it makes you a lot better. I’m excited about it. He’s a good fit for our team and a good fit for our lineup. To be able to get one of the top offensive players to go along with what we have, is an added bonus.”

If there were other motivating factors in this deal was the San Francisco Giants addition of Carlo Beltran as a power bat in their lineup and the fact that the Phillies scored just two runs and were 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position in their last two games against the Giants which was reminiscent of how the Phils were eliminated from the playoff last season.

With the trade for Pence, the Phillies may have just given themselves a fighting chance to get back to the World Series.

Giants Acquisition of Carlos Beltran Heightens Phillies Push for a Right-Handed Bat

29 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

It’s on now.

After the defending world champion San Francisco Giants added the switch-hitting Carlos Beltran via trade with the New York Mets, all eyes will be focused on what moves the Philadelphia Phillies will make heading down the stretch of the July 31st trade deadline.

The Giants acquisition of Beltran, who currently batting .289 with 15 homeruns and 66 runs batted in,sends a clear signal to the Phillies that they are not going to let get of their World Series title without a fight.

Oddly enough, Beltran’s bat didn’t make much of a difference for the Giants, at least for tonight, as went 0-for-4.

“He’s going to make a difference, he’s a good hitter,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He’s a switch hitter and he’s got power and he’s a consistent hitter. He’s definitely going to help.”

For a San Francisco team that ranks 13th in batting among 16 other teams in the National League, Beltran might be the spark they need to jump their offense, which usually relies on playing small ball and playing station-to-station baseball to go along with their strong pitching. With Beltran, the Giants have someone with more power than they have in current starting lineup.

With all the hype in the Beltran deal, the Phillies are no doubt looking for a right-handed bat to provide some balance to a lineup full of left-handed hitters, some of whom are struggling against left-handed pitching.

After scoring seven runs in the first game of the series against the Giants, the Phillies managed to score just two the rest of the way. It many respects it was reminiscent of their struggles against the Giants in the National League Championship Series when they batted just .216. In Thursday night’s loss the Phillies were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They left 10 men on base.

During the postgame press conference, Manuel said while it would be nice to have that right-handed bat, the guys he has namely, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who went a combined 1-for-16 in the last two games of the series.

“The guys we have gotta hit and be around their typical years,” Manuel said. “They don’t want to struggle

Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Giants right-handed hurler Matt Cain, who allowed just one run on four hits, was a grim reminder of how their lack of hitting prowess has killed their last two trips to the postseason. In that game, Cain shut out the Phillies in Game 3 of last year’s National League Championship Series.

Right now, all the so-called experts are saying the Phillies should trade Vance Worley or Domonic Brown along with a few prospects from their farm system for Houston Astros rightfielder Hunter Pence, currently hitting .307 with 11 homeruns and 62 RBI, or Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, who’s batting .262 with 20 homeruns and 62 runs batted in.

Another right-handed bat that’s been mentioned has been Tampa Bay Rays outfielder BJ Upton. The downside with Upton is that he is batting .227, but he has 15 homeruns with 53 runs batted in. There have been times throughout his tenure Tampa Bay where he hasn’t given his best effort in certain situations. But who knows? Maybe a change of scenery for Upton might just be the tonic he needs to be in position to help the Phillies down the stretch.

ESPN.com recently reported that Houston general manager Ed Wade walked away from a deal for minor league prospects right-handed pitcher Jarrad Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who are playing for the Phillies Class A affiliate Clearwater (Fla.).

If the Phillies can’t get the big names, they may have to settle for lesser players like Oakland’s Josh Willingham, Colorado’s Ryan Spilborghs and San Diego’s Ryan Ludwick have been mentioned as possibilities. Back in 2008, it was a small move in picking up Matt Stairs who hit a big home run in Game 4 of the NLCS.

Even though the Phillies lost this series, their first since early June, Manuel is not convinced the Giants are in his teams collective heads or that San Francisco has their number.

“I think we can get ‘em,” Manuel said. “I know we get ‘em. I think it’s just a matter of us putting it together and for us to play the right way and that’s to pitch, hit and play good defense …It’s just a matter of us outplaying them.”

Mayberry Jr. wants to be the Big Right-Handed Bat for the Phillies

27 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the CM Report

Before Tuesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants, Phillies manager

John Mayberry Jr. is batting .313 during the month of July with 14 runs batted in.

Charlie Manuel said he would prefer a right-handed bat over a reliever if the Phillies were to make a move before the July 31st trade deadline.

Names like Houston Astros rightfielder Hunter Pence have been mentioned numerous times as well as New York Mets switch-hitting centerfielder Carlos Beltran in all the trade rumors.

But Phillies outfielder John Mayberry Jr. is trying to make his own case to be the right-handed bat the teams needs in their quest to win the World Series. Throughout the month of July, Mayberry has been trying to make the argument that he should be that right-handed bat the team so desperately needs.

“I look at Mayberry and I think he’s coming into being a pretty good player and he could do somethings, but at the same time, we could still use some right-handed bats, ” Manuel said.

So far this month, Mayberry is batting .313 with 14 runs batted in and three homeruns. He has a .340 on-base percentage and .667 slugging percentage. For the season, 19 of Mayberry’s 39 hits have been for extra-bases. But as goes through his daily routine, Mayberry said he tries not think too much about being that big righthanded stick in the Phillies lineup.

“I’ve just got to go out there and play, have good games, have good at-bats and hopefully at the end, they’ll consider me for that spot,” said Mayberry, who went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run in the Phillies 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. “It’s been a combination of adjustments and being in great spots to hit in. It seems like everytime I was looking around, I was hitting with two guys on or with the bases loader or whatever the case may have been. I was in the right spot at the right time.”

Since being sent back down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Mayberry said he is having better at-bats and has become more patient at the plate.

“I think I’m seeing the ball well right now,” Mayberry said. “I’m trying to be early and slow and being in a good position to hit consistently.”

With the trade deadline approaching, there is no doubt that Mayberry is naturally feeling a bit antsy about his future with the team. He said if it were up to him, he would like to stay with the team for a long time.

“It’s obviously in the back of your mind, but hopefully I’ll be able to stay here and be a contributing factor to us winning,” Mayberry said. “I’m definitely excited about being a Phillie long term and hopefully I’m in their plans as such.”

Worley’s Complete Game and Utley’s Inside-the-Park Home Run Lifts Phillies over the Giants

27 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the CM Report

Even though the Phillies players will tell you that what happened last fall in the National League Championship Series has nothing to do with this week’s three-game series against the San Francisco Giants, but deep down inside they would have loved to have hit the ball in the LCS as well as they did Tuesday night.

In a matchup of National League division leaders, the Phillies came away with a 7-2 victory thanks to the long ball and another stellar effort from rookie sensation Vance Worley in front of another sellout crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Scoring runs in bunches was one thing the Phillies couldn’t do last fall against the Giants during the postseason. But Tuesday night the Phillies launched four homeruns off Giants pitching, three of them came off starting pitcher Barry Zito (3-3) playing in place of Tim Lincecum, who was ill with a stomach virus.

The Phillies jumped on Zito early with the long ball, including an exciting inside-the-park homerun by Chase Utley in the bottom of the sixth. He hit a ball that split the gap in left center and bounced off the wall and past center fielder Jeff Keppinger, who tried to make a leaping catch.

“I saw the ball kick off the wall and I knew at the point, that there was, I guess, a possibility,” Utley said. “I was running pretty hard out of the box. I tried to turn an extra gear there. I don’t know if I have it, but I tried. It was a fun play. I was running like (third base coach Juan Samuel) he was going to send me and he did.”

But by the time Utley made his gallant jaunt around the bases, the Phillies already had a four-run lead thanks to a three-run homerun by Raul Ibanez, a Ryan Howard RBI double in the first inning and a two-out solo shot by John Mayberry Jr. in the bottom of the fifth inning. Howard closed out the Phillies home-run barrage with a two-out solo shot over Giants reliever Guillermo Mota in the bottom of the eighth.

The Phillies scored six of their seven runs with two outs in the inning which is something Charlie Manuel loves to see from his team. Ibanez said scoring runs with two outs is a good indication that the team is hitting the ball well.

“That’s definitely nice to be able to score with two outs,” Ibanez said. “At the same time, just being able to score a lot of runs is nice anytime. There’s a lot of good signs and a lot of good things happening here.”

Meanwhile, Worley (7-1), had another good effort for the Phillies with his first major league complete game. He allowed just two runs on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw 114 pitches. At one point late in the game, pitching coach Rich Dubee had advised Manuel to pull Worely for Antonio Bastardo, but Manuel wanted to keep Worley in the game.

“I think he’s earned the right, ” Manuel said. “Dubee said something to me tonight that ‘you might have to bring Bastardo in on Ross and I was still letting (Worley) go. I wanted him to finish the game for himself. With a lead like that, I think he earned the right to get a chance to finish it.”

Worley said he likes the idea of Manuel having enough confidence to allow him to pitch deep into the game.

“I would have been a little frustrated if I had gotten pulled, most pitchers are because they want to finish the game, especially when they’re that close,” Worley said. “I knew Bastardo was warming up, it meant a lot to finish it out.”

San Francisco opened the scoring in the first inning with a sacrifice fly by Pablo Sandoval that scored Andres Torres, who doubled off Worley and went to third on a ground out by center fielder Jeff Keppinger to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.

But Worley kept the Giants off the scoreboard until the top of the eighth inning when former Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand hit a pinch-hit solo homerun to cut the lead to 6-2. The Giants would come no closer.

“He stay right at it and he was a gamer. He kept right on going,” Manuel said of Worley.

After Jimmy Rollins and Michael Martinez made the first two outs of the first inning, the Phillies wound up taking a 4-1 lead on an RBI double by Howard that scored Utely, who reached on a single. A Shane Victorino walk was followed by a three-run homer by Ibanez. It was his 14th of the season.

The Phillies increased the lead to to 5-1 in the fourth inning on a two-out solo homer by right fielder John Mayberry Jr. In the bottom of the sixth, the Phillies got the inside park homer from Utley.

Even With Baseball’s Best Record, Phillies are Looking to Make a Big Splash at the Trade Deadline

24 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

Hunter Pence could be the right-handed bat the Phillies need to propel them into the postseason

Having the best record in the National League or even in baseball is not good enough for the Phillies, they have been there and done that.

Barring a collapse of 1964-like proportions, the Phillies are going to probably win the National League East for the fifth straight year. But having the best record is no guarantee of a World Series title.

The problem for the Phillies in their last two losses in the postseason has been their lack of offensive production. In the 2010 National League Championship Series, they batted .216 against the San Francisco Giants and in the 2009 World Series, the Philllies batted .227 against the New York Yankees.

“Put it like this when we’re hitting like .220, .230, .240 from a hitting standpoint, that’s not good ,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “I don’t care what anybody says that ain’t good. We should be trying to improve and get better. If it’s with the players that we’ve got, they should be trying to get better, if that makes sense.”

With the July 31st trade deadline staring them in the face, they are in the market for a right-handed bat. If you’ve learned anything from the last two years under general manager Ruben Amaro’s leadership, the Phillies are a team that’s not afraid of making a move to improve the ball club.

Last season, when the team needed another right-handed arm, you got Roy Oswalt. During the off-season, the Phillies pulled off the deal for Cliff Lee and they did the same thing with Lee in 2009 when they got him from Cleveland.

While most folks around baseball would love to have the Philllies 64-36 record , manager Charlie Manuel believes his current team still has room for improvement. Even though they came into this week’s slate of games, the Phillies have managed to win nine straight series and haven’t lost two in a row since June 4th. The one thing that has to bother Manuel about his team is that lack of offensive consistency that has slowed his team down at various times this season.

“I’m always looking to get better,” Manuel said. “I’ve been here for seven years now and I’ll play with what we’ve got, but at the same time I think our organization and my communication with them I think we’re always looking to get better. The better our team, the better the chance we have to win at the end if we’re going to get in and win. But first we got to get in.”

Among all the speculation, Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence and Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran have bantied about as players the Phillies could pick up to improve their postseason chances. The 28-year-old Pence is having a pretty good season with a .308 batting average with 11 homeruns and 62 runs batted in.

Then there’s Beltran, who will be a free agent at the end of the year. The switch-hitting centerfielder is currently has a .291 batting average with 15 homeruns and 64 runs batted in. He would be a rental player at best and would definitely be good against left-handed pitching.

According to most of the rumors I’ve heard, the Philllies are working feverishly to put together a deal for Pence, who is under contract for at least two more years before his arbitration year  and is getting over $ 6 million per year. The Phillies will no doubt have to put together some hot prospects on the table to pull this off.

Some folks I’ve talked to around town say they are willing to see the Phillies put rookies sensation pitcher Vance Worley on the block for Pence or Beltran.

Worley has been lights out for the Phillies so far this year. For the month of July, he has a 0.89 earned runs average. In his six starts, Worley has allowed just four earned runs. With Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton on the disabled list, Worley has been a steady element in the Phillies starting rotation.

I’ve never liked the idea of teams mortgaging their future just to win now. Yes, teams like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have doing it for years because of their deep pockets and I know Phillies fans want to see another parade down Broad Street.

Personally, I wouldn’t put Worley in the conversation because I think the kid has the potential to be the Phillies next good pitcher. But if I had to put Worley on the block, I would not do it for Beltran, who is 34-years-old and near the end of the line. At best, he’s a rental player.

If you put a gun to my head and said trade Worley for a right-handed bat, I would take Pence over Beltran because he’s young enough to give a few years. If I’m going to trade a hot rookie like Worley, I want to get something for it down the line.

To be honest about it, Amaro values pitching too much as a general manager and I don’t think he would put Worley on the trading block, but you never know. But one thing is for certain, the Philllies are going to make a move at trade deadline.

“Teams that win and do it consistently, they do those things and that’s a big part of being here,” Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay said. “It was always frustrating watching New York and Boston do it whenever we (Toronto Blue Jays) get close around the break. It’s nice to be on a team that goes out and gets those guys whether its during the winter or at the break whatever. You know they’re always trying to make us better.”

 

Bringing his own Brand of Heat, Hamels Mows Down San Diego

23 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Nearly a week after one of his worst outings of the season when he was roughed up by the

Cole Hamels struckout seven of the first nine men he faced in the Phillies win over San Diego

New York Mets, Cole Hamels, pitching in temperatures approaching 100 degrees, showed no ill effects of his last outing by striking out seven of the nine San Diego Padres he faced.

On a night where the game-time temperature was 98 degrees, the Phillies once again road the hot pitching of Hamels in a 3-1 victory of 45,383 fans on an unbearably hot and muggy night at Citizens Bank Park.

Seemingly unaffected for by the hot temperatures, Hamels (12-5) brought his own brand of heat by allowing just one run on three hits in eight innings of work while throwing 100 pitches. Hamels finished the night with 10 strikeouts, marking the 18th time in his career that he has reached double figures in strikeouts.

“He had good stuff, he got some balls up, but at the same time, he moved the ball around pretty good,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “When he missed, he was close. He was around the plate.”

Hamels was able to mix his pitches effectively against a weak-hitting Padres team. What worked for him on this hot Friday night was his changeup.

“I was able to keep it down, especially with two strikes.. When I had the 0-0 counts, I was able to throw (the changeup) strikes. I think that puts (hitters) in a bad position. When you see a change up, it’s slow enough where they can’t get it. With two strikes, I was able to get more action on it,” Hamels said.

What’s really made the difference for Hamels so far this season is his expanded repetoire of pitches. That’s been the one thing that’s made Hamels an even better pitcher now than he was back in 2008 when he was the MVP of the World Series. He’s an added a good cut fast ball and he has more confidence in his curve ball to go along with an effective change up and fast ball.

“For me it’s just knowing how to pitch and just keeping the same sort of perspective of preparing for the game,” Hamels said. “It’s just understanding that you have to be able to throw four pitches as a starter now. If you do, you’re going to be successful now.

“We have two guys are on our starting staff who do that pretty well (referring to Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee) and most of the guys who were at that All-Star Game throw four pitches very successfully. It puts yourself in better counts when you get ahead of the hitters which is something I’ve been able to do pretty well. But instead of the guessing game of guess what pitch is going to come next, you gotta a 25 percent chance, it’s kind of hard to sit on something.”

After getting blown up for seven runs and eights in four and third innings in last outing against the Mets, Hamels said his success in this outing was sticking to his normal routine of getting ready for his turn.

“We all have bad games and I’ve had bad games in my career,” Hamels said. “It’s just keeping the same program and knowing what I need to do to have success. It’s just keeping the same routine and you prepare yourself for the game, it’s just a matter of going out doing it. That’s the process of year after year of failure. Baseball is obviously a game of failure, it’s how you change it and get over your failures is how well you’ll succeed.

To get through the muck of the heat and humidity, Hamels parked himself in the stairway of the dugout where there was apparently a “cool” breeze of some sort and he changed his uniform several times to keep himself relatively cool.

“It’s cool enough and you’re sitting in a nicer chair than the bench,” Hamels said.

The Phillies jumped on the board in the second inning with an RBI double by catcher Carlos Ruiz that drove in Shane Victorino. The Phils pushed the lead to 3-0 on a balk by Padres starting pitcher Corey Lubke and an RBI double by John Mayberry Jr.

“I don’t think we had it going offensively quite the way we wanted,” Mayberry said. “We hit some balls hard, but we weren’t able to string anything together, but we got the win.”

 

San Diego scored its only run in the game in the fifth inning on an RBI ground out to third that scored centerfielder Cameron Maybin.

Notes—The Phillies activated closer Brad Lidge, who’s missed most of the season with a torn rotator cuff, and designated right-handed reliever Danys Baez for assignment.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,883 other followers