Cole Hamels established himself last night as the ace among aces on the Phillies staff and the best left-hander in the National League. Facing Atlanta in the opening match of a crucial three-game set, Hamels threw eight innings, scattering six hits, walking one and striking out six. He did all of this while getting squeezed by a home plate umpire who was all over the lot. In the process Hamels also lowered his ERA to 2.93. He's given up two earned runs in roughly his last forty innings of work.
Hamels was aided immeasurably by terrific defense behind him including the turning of three double plays, the first of which found Placido Polanco starting an around-the-horn job by first bobbling a hot smash then throwing quickly to Chase Utley who leaped over the runner coming in hard at second and completed the DP. It was a thing of beauty.
The box score will also show Atlanta fill-in Brandon Beachy, making his first major league start as an emergency replacement, threw a decent game, but the truth is the Phils hit a lot of balls very hard either right at people or just foul.
Tonight, Roy Halladay, who hasn't been particularly scintillating of late, gets the ball as he goes for his 20th win. This game marks the kind of late-season, pennant-chasing contest which prompted Halladay to want to come to Philadelphia. He will be up for the game, make no mistake about that.