Phillies Start 2015 Season on the Wrong Foot in Shutout Loss to Boston

Cole Hamels gave up four solo runs in the Phillies 8-0 shutout loss in Monday's 2015 Season-Opener.

Cole Hamels gave up four solo runs in the Phillies 8-0 shutout loss in Monday’s 2015 Season-Opener. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—The 2015 season opener for the Phillies was simply a continuation of the seasons since they last won a division title in 2011—a slow start by the starting pitcher and little run support from the offense.

Cole Hamels allowed five hits, four of them solo homeruns—Dustin Pedroia had two of them while centerfielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who also hit a game-clinching grand-slam home run in the top of the ninth inning off Phillies relief pitcher Jake Diekman.

On a sunny, picture postcard day in front of a sellout crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park, the Boston Red Sox came with a 8-0 shutout of the Phillies.   Well, so much for optimism and hope on opening day. What this game did was reinforce for fans why there will be little to cheer about this season.

“It definitely didn’t go the way we all envisioned,” Hamels told reporters after the game. “I know I’m one of the big culprits of that. You put a team down 1-0 in the first inning, it’s not really setting a good tone or positive message to be able to get the momentum to your side, so that’s a lot of my fault.”

Hamels had five strikeouts and allowed three walks in five innings on the mound. Giving up those homeruns put the Phillies in an early hole and considering how the Phillies offense struggles to score, it might as well be a 40-run deficit.

“Cole didn’t get away with any high fast balls,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “His command was not sharp at all and that resulted in the home runs. …No explanation for Cole, he was throwing 94 and he had his fast ball. He seemed to have long counts, they fouled off a lot of balls, they extended at-bats, he threw a lot of pitches and really didn’t into a rhythm of getting ahead of the hitters.”

It took the Phillies offense four innings to get their first hit of the game—a double by Ryan Howard. In the seventh inning, the Phillies actually got two more hits from catcher Carlos Ruiz and right fielder Grady Sizemore.

Ruiz eventually reached third, but was stranded there when shortstop Freddy Galvis struck out to end the inning. That was as close to scoring as the Phillies would get.

Sandberg said his team has to come up with ways to manufacture runs and get timely hits moving forward. For the Phillies, putting hits together and scoring runs will be far easier said than done.

“We’re just going to have to grind out at bats and make the most out of base runners,” Sandberg said. “The games that we played well and won in spring training we would do that and do some other things to advance the runners. We need to hit more and take more walks.”

Meanwhile, Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Bucholz bedazzled Phillies to the tune of nine strikeouts and allowing just three hits—two singles and a double—in seven innings on the mound for Boston.

While Philadelphia sports fans have their usual cynical, pessimistic view of the Phillies lack of hitting prowess, Phillies leftfielder Ben Revere shrugged it off and reminded folks that there are a whole bunch of games left in the season.

“It’s only one game, so it’s 161 to go. We have an off-day and we’ll be back on Wednesday,” Revere said. “It’s a long season. We have to think about Wednesday. We’ll starting getting the groove back, especially with me and (Odubel) Herrerra creating havoc on the bases.”


Phils Come Up Small in the Late Innings, Hamels Gives up Two Home Runs to Hanley Ramirez

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun

Despite eight strikeouts Hamels could not stop Miami’s Hanley Ramirez who hit two home runs off him.

Cole Hamels was looking to become baseball’s only nine-game winner and for the first three innings when the Phillies took a 3-0 lead, it seemed like he was on his way to accomplishling that feat.

But Handley Ramirez of the Miami Marlins hit two homeruns off Cole Hamels (8-2) and the Phillies failed to take advantage of opportunities to get back in the game in the late innings and wound up on the short end of a 5-4 loss on a Saturday afternoon at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Hamels did manage to come up with eight strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings, but just could not stop Ramirez, who started the Marlins comeback with a solo shot to center that had to be reviewed the umpires because a fan reached over and caught the ball. The umpires upheld the homerun call. Hamels also gave up an RBI double Justin Ruggiano that scored first baseman Logan Morrison, who singled after Ramirez’s home run.

“I thought it was a homerun right off the bat,” Hamels said of Ramirez’s first home run. “If it wasn’t going to be a homerun, I was going to be more lucky than anything because I threw the pitch, he guessed right, he hit it and he hit it hard. When that happens, he definitely deserved the homerun. You have to comeback and get the next guy, but I wasn’t able to do that.

The Marlins third baseman put his team up for good with a two-run homer to left off Hamels to give the Marlins a 4-3 lead. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said that Hamels seemed to lose his command in his final two inninngs on the mound.

“He was kind of off there for the final two innings,” Manuel said. “I felt like he got kind of out of whack.”

The Phillies got on the board by scoring runs in each of the first three innings. In the first Carlos Ruiz drove Juan Pierre on a RBI ground out to Morrison at first base. Jimmy Rollins got an RBI-single that scored Placido Polanco. Hunter Pence opened the third inning with a solo homer to right. But that would be all the Phillies would score until the eighth inning.

Marlins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco (6-3)got the win and a had a solid outing against the Phillies and allowed eight hits while striking out five.

The eighth inning looked promising enough for the Phillies. Rollins tripled to right. Pierre would walk and take second on a stolen. A sacrifice fly by Pence drove home Rollins and moved Pierre to third. With three chances to bring home the tying run, the Phillies came up short. First, Victorino walked, but Ruiz struck out swinging on a bad pitch that was way outside the strike zone and first baseman Ty Wigginton also struck out swinging.

The ninth inning also looked liked the Phillies were, at the very least, going to push across the game-tying run. Polanco open the inning with a single to right-center. He was replaced by pinch runner Mike Fontenot and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by second baseman Freddy Galvis, who should have been safe at first because it appeared that Morrison missed the tag.

However, the umpire ruled that Galvis ran outside the baseline. The television replay did not indicate that Galvis ran out of the base line. Manuel said he asked first base umpire Doug Edding to get help from the home plate umpire.

“I didn’t think (Galvis) was out of the base line and I asked for help, (Edding) said he made the call and he said he wasn’t going to ask for it,” Manuel said. “I don’t think Freddy went out of the baseline. He was in the three-foot line and he went to his right a little bit and he established a baseline.”

But the way things turned out, it would not have mattered because Brian Schneider, pinch-hitting for pitcher Raul Valdes, popped out to second and Rollins ended the game by flying out to short.

“We were sitting right there and we could have definitely won the game,” Manuel said. “It’s a matter of getting the big hit at the right time. Today, it didn’t happen.”