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
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.