By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—Coming into the second game of their three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, the Phillies had been scoreless in their last 20 innings.
The real culprit behind the Phillies lack of run production has been their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Before Saturday night’s contest against the Reds, the Phillies were 0-for-16. They had been batting .193 when they’ve had men in scoring position.
“A lineup creates scoring opportunities and then it comes down to execution and it comes down to a big at bat and a swing to drive one run or maybe two or three,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “That’s the one punch that we want to see and that’s what we need to get us over the hump, to get us going.”
For the first three scoreless innings, the Phillies offense was going nowhere fast until the fourth inning when everything Sandberg talked about came to fruition.
In that fourth inning, the Phillies broke out of their slump with a vengeance. They sent 10 men to the plate and scored six runs on six hits that included a two-run double by third baseman Cody Asche, a two-run homer by left fielder Domonic Brown and RBI singles from Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley.
The offensive outburst, along with a stellar outing by Cole Hamels, enabled the Phillies to come away with a 12-1 win over the Reds at Citizen’s Bank Park to end a four-game losing streak.
The Phillies offense broke out of their hitting with runs in scoring position slump by going 7-for-15. For Sandberg, it was a matter of time before they broke out of their inability to score runs. It was Asche’s two-run double to end the Phillies scoreless streak that opened the flood gates.
“It was big. That’s what we were looking for to build on,” Sandberg said. “We were able to build on that for the rest of the game. It was the hit that sparked everybody.”
As the Phillies offense was rising from its slumber, Hamels was mowing down Reds hitters in a way that was reminiscent of his MVP performance in the 2008 World Series. He struck out 10 while allowing just one run on three hits. He threw 90 pitches in seven innings of work. It was Hamels 100th career win.
“Cole was outstanding for his 100th career win,” Sandberg said. “It was by far the best that he’s looked this year with velocity and command, throwing strikes and using all of his pitches. He had that (third inning) where struck out the side with nine pitches.”
Hamels said he was happy to get that 100th win playing for the Phillies and for Philadelphia fans.
“They’ve seen a quite a few wins here personally (at Citizen’s Bank Park) or on Comcast,” Hamels said. “It’s nice to be able to do it for everybody to feel they’ve been a part of it from the start to where it is now.”
Doing the bulk of the damage for the Phillies were Asche and Brown who changed places in the Phillies lineup. Asche batted sixth and Brown batted seventh.
“It was great to see and maybe that sparked them,” Sandberg said.
Brown, who had been batting .113 (6-for-53) in his last 14 games coming into Saturday, drove in a career-high five runs including his second homer of the year in the fourth and a three-run double in the seventh. He had the green light to swing at a 3-0 pitch that got crushed into the seats in right field in that big fourth innin.
“I knew a fast ball was coming, especially with a guy that’s been struggling,” Brown said. “I was trying to make a good, short sweet to the baseball. I just happen to do so. … It definitely feels good, but it’s just one game, fellas. I’m trying to build forward, stay positive and keep having fun.”
Meanwhile, Asche continued his hot hitting with a double and a single while driving in three runs.
“We’ve been putting pressure on teams and getting runners in scoring position. We just haven’t been able to cash in,” Asche said. “It was good to some runs for Cole because he was out there pitching his ass off. “
After putting up those six runs in the fourth. The Phillies scored five more in the seventh and got a solo home-run from shortstop Cesar Hernandez in the eighth. It was his first career major-league homer.
Notes-With his first inning single, Jimmy Rollins moved into third place on the Phillies all-time hitting list with his 2,212 career hit that moved him past Hall-of-Famer Ed Delahanty. He is five hits shy of tying Richie Ashburn for second.