If you like old school pitching duels, today’s series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals was for you, sort of.
Cole Hamels allowed just one hit over 8 spectacular innings, while striking out seven batters and issuing one walk. It was a breath of fresh air for Phillies fans, who have seen four very uninspiring starts in a row since Cole threw his last gem versus the Cubs last Saturday. Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge (!) combined for 3 scoreless innings in relief, giving Durbin (2-1) the win and Lidge (8) the save.
What’s more impressive about Cole’s line is that he was able to outlast Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright, who lasted just 6 innings after giving up six hits and throwing 96 pitches. The Phillies were not able to score off of Wainwright, but they worked him into deep counts and were able to put the ball in play. That may have been enough in April or early May when the Phillies looked like the team who went to the World Series last year, but at this point in the season, it just looks like another game of offensive ineptitude that’s been plaguing them.
After three Cardinals relievers combined for 4 shutout innings going into the top of the 11th inning, Placido Polanco was finally able to break the stalemate with a blast to the left field stands, the third baseman’s sixth homer of the year. After a Shane Victorino ground out, Raul Ibanez walked, and Ryan Howard moved him to second base with a single to right. With runners on 1st and 2nd, there was a Jayson Werth sighting as he blasted a double to left, scoring Ibanez.
Any victory is a victory these days, and if nothing else today’s win kept the NL East deficit to 7 games behind the Atlanta Braves, who won again this afternoon over the San Diego Padres. The Phillies went 2-6 on the road trip.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee announced today that Kyle Kendrick’s short stint to Triple-A is over and will start Saturday in Philly against the Colorado Rockies. Also, J.A. Happ will finally make his return to the bigs and start on Sunday afternoon.
Perhaps a little home cooking will cure what ails them. Just don’t expect to hear any held breaths down on Broad Street over the weekend.