Cole Hamels remains a two-pitch hurler despite the occasional appearance yesterday of what passes for a curve. Once again he yielded a early home run on a fastball right down Broad Street and once again he was saved by his mates who surely possess one of the more potent offenses in the game, and by the bullpen, which despite the absences of Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero (or maybe because of them!!) has been fantastic. It remains to be seen whether tougher opposition, particularly pitching, will neutralize or contain the Phils' potent bats. Hamels sports two wins this April, both at the expense of the Nationals, but he hasn't looked impressive in either one. Yesterday's outing was a slight improvement over his first start, but he hardly allayed fears in this quarter that he is a middling pitcher.
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Few things have given me greater pleasure this Spring than in watching old favorite Placido Polanco ply his trade in a Phillies uniform. There simply aren't many ballplayers out there on whom the label "professional hitter" looks so good. Polanco just does things right. He puts wood on the ball; he moves runners along; he is the consummate situational hitter. For good measure, he looks and acts like he's not only happy to be back but that he never left!
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Apart from his two K's against Roy Oswalt Sunday, Ryan Howard has been a model of consistency and opportunity this first week of the season. Of course, like everyone else on the offense, it remains to be seen how he will fare against front line pitching on a steadier basis, but nothing can take away from his going the other way yesterday against the shift. Last season, he would have pulled the ball to the second baseman playing in very shallow right field. Howard may be growing up.