By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
With all the changes that have happened with the Phillies since winning the 2008 World Series, there are a few old things that are working just as well in the here and now.
For one thing, Cole Hamels is back to the dominant form that made him the MVP of the last Phillies World Series title. Against the Washington Nationals Tuesday night, Hamels was in control and in charge on the mound and even did well with a bat in his hands.
In the Phillies 4-1 win over the Nationals, Hamels pitched a complete game, allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts and just one walk. In nine innings, Hamels threw 108 pitches. He improved his record to 4-1 this season.To top the night off, Hamels was 2-for-4 at the plate with a triple and a run scored.
“Everything was working and I was able to keep everything in the zone,” Hamels said. “When you’re able to keep it down in the zone, work it inside, outside, my cutter was a little more crisp, my change-up was staying down, it’s the game of placing it where they’re not anticipating or keeping it further down in the zone where they just ground out instead of hitting line drives for the base hits.”
After not having any complete games last season, Hamels picked up his first complete game this season. He said it’s always his goal to go out and pitch the whole nine innings. Of course, it doesn’t always happen that way.
“I think that’s the plan, every time I go out to pitch all night and get the complete game,” Hamels said. “That’s the mentality that I’ve always had and it’s not necessarily going to happen all the time because of pitch counts. I was fortunate enough that guys were hitting early and I was able to get a couple of key double plays and some line outs. I think that helps with staying alive. If you’re able to minimize hits, walks and even strikeouts. They make your pitch count go up.”
As for Cole Hamels the hitter, he may not be the second coming of Ted Williams, but he certainly looked like he knew what was doing for at least a couple of at-bats. On his triple in the fifth inning, the ball hit the top of the wall in right center field to the right of the Phillies bullpen. The ball nearly went out of the park for a homerun.
“I was going to keep going, if they threw me out, they threw me out,” Hamels said laughing with reporters after the game. “I would have kept the double. I didn’t think it hit it that well (for a homerun) and that’s why I kept running.”
Meanwhile on the offensive end, Manuel reshuffled the Phillies lineup and put shortstop Jimmy Rollins at the lead off spot from the third spot and centerfielder Shane Victorino at the No.2 spot in the batting order after batting in the one hole all season. Second baseman Placido Polanco battted third for the Phillies tonight.
Having the fastest Phillies at the top of the lineup paid off for the Phils tonight. Both Rollins and Victorino reached base a combined six times with four hits and two stolen bases. That was something that definitely put a smile on Manuel’s face.
“I’ve always liked Rollins and Victorino hitting one-two and that’s our speed and that’s how we manufacture a lot of runs,” Manuel said. “We pulled a double-steal (Tuesday) and that’s how we’ve always played in our big run-producing years and that’s how I like to do it. I’ve been looking for balance in the lineup. I just tried it because I thought (Polanco) fit good in the third hole and I knew that (Rollins) and (Victorino) go good at the top. We’ve had a hard time getting base runners on and had a hard time getting them in.”
Another thing that made Manuel happy was seeing Raul Ibanez break out of a deep slump in which he was 0-for -34 coming into the Tuesday’s game against Washington. The Phillies left fielder had a pair of doubles and a running batted in four at-bats.
Ibanez looked like a man who was relieved and had a 500-pound gorilla lifted off his shoulders.
“The only way I have to function is to pretend that it never happened and just move forward,” Ibanez said. It’s been a lot of work behind the scenes trying to make it happen. It worked (Tuesday) and I enjoyed the moment, the moment is over and now you have to put it behind you.”