Phils power way to victory as Hamels hurts back

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Phils power way to victory as Hamels hurts back

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Posted: 10:58 p.m. Updated: June 15, 12:40 a.m.

By John R. Finger
CSNPhilly.com

BOX SCORE

Lately, Cole Hamels has been very predictable when he takes the mound. Better yet, on a pitching staff loaded with consistent pros, Hamels just might be the most reliable of the bunch this season.

And thats saying something.

Hamels pitched seven-plus innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the 9-1 victory over the Florida Marlins at the Bank on Tuesday night. After giving up two hits and a run in the first inning, the lefty retired the next 17 he faced in which he allowed just three fair balls to go past the infield.

However, the strong winds and sub-seasonal temperatures mixed with the long innings in the dugout brought on by the Phillies offensive surge ended Hamels night prematurely. After walking Wes Helms to start the eighth inning, Hamels left the game with back tightness.

Fortunately for manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies, Hamels says he does not expect to miss a start.

I have an appointment with the chiropractor tomorrow, Im excited, Hamels said after he improved his record to 9-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.49.

Better yet, Hamels says he does not expect to miss his next start, scheduled for next Tuesday in St. Louis.

I want to go out and pitch as much as possible. I dont ever want to come out of the game, Hamels said. But at the same time, sometimes theres situations where you have some doubt and youre better off not trying to force anything. I think that was kind of the situation with how long the game was. The temperature of my body just kind of went cold and I was stiffening up. To go out and try to pitch at your best when youre stiff that obviously just an opportunity to put yourself in a bad situation and put yourself in an opportunity to get hurt. I want to be able to make every start and to be healthy. If theres one little bump its not really a big deal.

Of course part of the reason why the Phillies have a chiropractor in the first place is because of Hamels. Back in 2005 when he was still making his way through the minors, Hamels was shut down in mid-July after back spasms revealed a herniated disc. In 2007 when a shoulder injury sent him to the disabled list for the first (and only) time in his big-league career, Hamels lobbied for a team chiropractor and has been a longtime devotee of the practice.

The sense from Hamels and Manuel is that some between start maintenance is all thats needed.

He has a knot in his back. He should be fine, Manuel said.

Still, between the first inning and his departure in the eighth, Hamels was back to pitching his rock-solid brand of baseball. He struck out six and after Morrisons single, Hamels threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 23 hitters he faced.

As a result, Hamels has allowed just two earned runs, 10 hits and four walks in 23 innings this month for a 0.78 ERA and a probable All-Star Game bid.

I think I got lucky. I had the wind in my favor and I left two pitches up in the zone and I got away with it, Hamels said, downplaying the outing. But if youre able to make some pitches when you need to and be effectively wild and use the elements in some situations, then so be it. It helps to have a ton of runs, too.

Oh yeah, that nine-spot didnt just magically appear on the scoreboard. The Phillies actually did some bona fide slugging to knock off the Marlins.

The Phillies ripped five homers, including the first multi-homer game of Dom Browns career, to support Hamels. Ryan Howard opened things with two-run, two-out blast in the first, followed by another two-run, two-out shot from Chase Utley in the third. Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run, two-out homer in the sixth, which was the buffer between Browns solo shot in the fourth and his upper deck solo bomb in the seventh to cap off the scoring.

The second one was crazy, Rollins said of Browns second homer. I want to see that one on a warm day with no wind. I told him that, too. That was pretty nice.

Manuel was more succinct when offering his analysis of his offense:

It was probably the best we hit all year, he said.

It would be tough to argue that, considering the top three spots in the Phils order of Rollins, Shane Victorino and Utley, pounded out seven hits and scored five runs.

Of course the offense and solid starting pitching summed up why the Phillies are the beasts of the National League. At 41-26, the Phils not only lead the NL East by 3 games, but also have the best record in baseball.

Tonight was fun. Tonight was a lot of fun, Rollins said. You could see it in guys body language where sometimes you put in work and its not translating on the field and you say forget it, but then things like this happen.
E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com

Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 1

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Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

The Phillies' late-May slide continued in a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.
 
Aaron Nola delivered a solid start, but got poor run support. The Phillies entered the game averaging 3.2 runs per game, lowest in the majors.
 
The Nationals scored all their runs on home runs.
 
The Phillies have lost nine of their last 11 games. They are 1-7 in their last eight and have gone from 25-19 and two games back in the NL East to 26-26 and 5½ games back.
  
Starting pitching report
Nola went six innings and allowed two runs, both on solo homers. He walked one and struck out six. He is 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA.
 
Washington right-hander Joe Ross (5-4) pitched a strong game. He gave up just three hits and a run over seven innings. He walked two and struck out five. Ross has given up just two runs over 14 innings in his last two starts.
 
Bullpen report
Jonathan Papelbon closed it out for the Nats in a non-save situation.
 
At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have been held to two or fewer runs 20 times in their 52 games.

Cesar Hernandez tripled home the Phillies' only run.

Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy accounted for the Nationals’ first two runs pair of solo homers against Nola. Danny Espinosa smacked a two-run homer off Colton Murray in the ninth and Stephen Drew followed with an inside-the-park homer.
 
Murphy also singled in the game. He had 47 hits in the month of May, tying a Washington/Montreal franchise record that had previously been shared by Al Oliver and Marquis Grissom.

Lineup stuff
Mackanin was trying to send Hernandez a message by batting him eighth (see story).
 
Bryce Harper did not play for Washington. He was hit on the right leg by a pitch in Monday night’s game.
 
Slumping Ryan Howard started at first base and went hitless in three at-bats to fall to .154. He hit .101 (7 for 69) in the month of May.
 
Howard will not start Wednesday night against Max Scherzer. He is 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against Scherzer. Tommy Joseph will start that game.
 
Minor matters
Cody Asche’s minor-league rehab stint expires Wednesday. He could rejoin the team at any time.
 
Up next
 The series concludes on Wednesday night. Lefty Adam Morgan (1-3, 6.67) pitches against Washington right-hander Scherzer (5-4, 4.05).

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

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Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

Pete Mackanin dropped second baseman Cesar Hernandez to eighth in the batting order for Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals.

“If you want to call it a message you can call it a message,” Mackanin said.

Hernandez entered the game hitting .255 with a .616 OPS. Last year, he hit .272 with and .687 OPS.

“I expect more out of him,” Mackanin said. “I think he's a better hitter than he's shown. I think he's a .280 hitter and I think he's at .250. I want to see improvement. We need him to get back up to .280, where I think he belongs. He’s got to make adjustments. We need offense.”

Mackanin pointed to Hernandez’s double-play partner, shortstop Freddy Galvis, as an example of a player who has made improvements.

Galvis entered Tuesday night hitting .257 with a .696 OPS. But in the month of May, he was hitting .277 with a .708 OPS.

“Freddy is starting to come on,” Mackanin said. “He’s starting to make adjustments.”

Galvis has also played excellent defense.

The Phillies are a rebuilding club with a number of potential big-league contributors rounding out their development in the minors. The team’s top prospect is a shortstop – J.P. Crawford – and he’s in Triple A now. It’s not out of the question that he will be the team’s opening day shortstop next season.

Crawford’s eventual ascension impacts both Galvis and Hernandez. Galvis can also play second base. Whether Hernandez or Galvis becomes the second baseman when Crawford arrives could be determined by who hits. This is the time to make impressions.

“That's basically what it boils down to,” Mackanin said. “I've even talked to them about that — 'It's an important year for both of you because there are people who want to be in the big leagues that are in the minor leagues and want to take your job.' You have to approach it that way. You can't let down. You have to stay focused and work hard.”

While all signs point to Crawford taking over at shortstop in the future, Mackanin said Galvis’ defense should not be taken for granted.

“As well as Freddy is playing shortstop, you'd hate to move a guy like that out of that position,” Mackanin said. “It's a defensive position and he's been so good at it.”

Galvis entered Tuesday night with just two errors in 50 games. His .990 fielding percentage trailed only San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, both .995.

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Bryce Harper (knee) sits for Nats

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Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Bryce Harper (knee) sits for Nats

Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals' lineup Tuesday night after being hit in the knee by a Jeremy Hellickson pitch on Memorial Day.

Big break for the Phils considering Harper has hit .346 against them with three doubles, 11 home runs, 23 RBIs and 21 walks in his last 104 plate appearances against them.

It's an equally big break for Aaron Nola, against whom Harper is 6 for 10 with two homers (see game notes).

For the Phillies, Ryan Howard gets the start at first base against another right-hander, Washington's Joe Ross. Phillies fans are clamoring for more playing time for Tommy Joseph, but starting Howard against Ross does make some sense given how much better lefties have been against him (.295 BA) than righties (.209). Ross throws a ton of sinkers and sliders, which make it tough on same-handed hitters.

1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Cameron Rupp, C
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Tyler Goeddel, LF
7. David Lough, RF
8. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
9. Aaron Nola, P

And for the Nationals:

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Daniel Murphy, 2B
4. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
5. Clint Robinson, LF
6. Anthony Rendon, 3B
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Espinosa, SS
9. Joe Ross, P