After getting off to a poor start in losing the series opener in Colorado on Friday, the Phillies rebounded to win a pair over the weekend and take the series against the Rockies. On Sunday, Cole Hamels had a few extra non-fans watching him pitch the series finale, with scouts reportedly on the scene for the 5-1 win.
Jim Salisbury counted scouts from at least seven clubs sitting behind the backstop. Aside from maybe a misfired toss to first on a sacrifice by the Rockies’ second batter of the day, the added performance pressure didn’t seem to bother Cole, who won his 11th game of the season allowing only 6 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run while striking out 7 batters over 8 innings. I can’t say what exactly they’d look for when watching a known quantity like a Cole Hamels, but I assume the gang of scouts merely saw what they were expecting to on Sunday—an elite lefty dealing.
Hamels got some early run support from the top of the order. The under-the-microscope Shane Victorino tripled in the first inning, then scored on a Carlos Ruiz single. That lead held to the top of the fourth, when Chooch doubled, then scored after being moved to third by Ty Wigginton and sac’d in by Polly. In the fifth, Hunter Pence hit a bomb to left after J-Roll singled and Victorino drew the free pass.
Up 5-0, Hamels’ only run against came in the sixth, when his lone walk came back to bite him. With Marco Scutaro on first base, Carlos Gonzalez continued his career-long assault on Phillies pitching with a one-out triple. Hamels answered with a strikeout and induced a groundout, then a 1-2-3 seventh inning and an uneventful eighth.
Charlie called on Ryan Howard, who had the day off along with Chase Utley, to hit for Hamels in the top of the 9th, placing the ball in Antonio Bastardo’s hands to close it out. Bastardo needed just seven pitches to get Ramon Hernandez and Michael Cuddyer to ground out and K Tyler Colvin to end the afternoon and lock up the Phillies’ first series win since mid-June.
Chooch notched his 50th RBI of the season and capped a great weekend at the plate, with five hits and four RBI in the series. He’s gone hitless only once in July.
Pence’s homer, a blast that pinballed around the leftfield stands, was his only hit of the series and first HR since he hit one in three straight games to end the month of June.
In his pinch-hit appearance, Howard GIDP’d.
Not a ton of men on base for the Phillies in this one, with just six hits and four walks. Luckily a few big hits came with men on.
After sailing that throw over first base in the first inning, Hamels answered with back-to-back strikeouts, both ending on his change-up.
The Phils head to LA for three against the Dodgers before returning home to host the Giants next weekend. Tonight, Joe Blanton faces 22-year-old righty Nate Eovaldi. Tomorrow… Roy Halladay returns.