Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cole's No Ace Just Yet

On the surface, Cole Hamels' performance last night doesn't look all that bad: 7 innings pitched, 3 runs, only 2 of which were earned and 7 seven strikeouts. But if you watched the game or were at the game like I was, it was pretty clear that Cole did not look right, and he certainly did not look like an ace.

Right from the get-go, he gave up a run to the lowly Atlanta Braves and put his team in a hole. Then, after the Phils tied it up in the 2nd, Cole gave the lead right back to the Braves the very next inning. And he did it in horrible fashion. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Cole caught Kelly Johnson heading for third and had him easily picked off. Only he didn't, because Cole, a pitcher who is supposed to have pinpoint accuracy, threw the ball into leftfield, allowing Johnson to score. Just as quickly as they tied it up, the Phils found themselves down again thanks to a blunder by their prized lefty.

And just to make things a little tougher on the Phils, Hamels gave up a home run to Casey Kotchman in the 6th, a player who had just 4 home runs off lefties all year and was batting a subpar .241 against southpaws since joining the Braves.

Now, I'm not saying this loss was entirely Cole's fault. Hardly. The Phils managed to score just two runs and notch six hits off Mike Hampton, who was good about a half decade or so ago, and they didn't get a single hit against the Braves bullpen in three innings. So it wasn't all on Cole, but it certainly wasn't a performance worthy of an ace. Maybe that's because Cole just isn't there yet, but this team sure would like to see him be one right about now.

Meanwhile, over in Metland, Johan Santana once again showed Cole what an ace looks like. Now, he also dug the Mets into a hole, as the Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 3, but from there on out, Johan blanked the best team in the National League, striking out 10 Cubbies in the process. The Phils loss, accompanied by the Mets win, cut the Phillies' lead to 1.5 games with just 4 more to play.

Tonight, I embark on my third straight trip to Citizens Bank Park, as Brett Myers takes on Jo-Jo Reyes. Let's hope Brett's last start was an anomaly and not a return to his pre-IronPigs form. Then the Phils wrap up the regular season against the Nationals Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the division up for grabs.

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