Hamels dinged as Phils drop finale to Red Sox


Thursday, June 30, 2011
Posted: 4:10 p.m.Updated: 6:36 p.m.

By John R. Finger


There are breaks and then there are lucky breaks. For the Phillies in Thursday afternoons 5-2 defeat to the Boston Red Sox at the Bank, no break just might be the luckiest of all.

Cole Hamels was hit in the fourth inning by a line drive batted by slugger Adrian Gonzalez, and though Hamels recorded the out and stayed in the game to get the last out of the frame, the Phils lefty did not return for the fifth.

The good news? Hamels was not seriously injured. At least thats what the team announced in relaying the information that X-rays returned negative and that Hamels suffered only a contusion. Still, figuring that Phils players have been dropping like flies, the team was quick to announce that Hamels will make his next start scheduled for Tuesday night in Miami.

Perhaps the thought is if they announce it, it will be so. According to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., it is not a slam dunk that Hamels will take his next turn in the rotation.

We expect him to make his next start, manager Charlie Manuel said. Youll see when you talk to him he has his hand in a sling-looking thing, but he can move his hand and he feels good at the moment.

Actually, we didnt see because Hamels chose not to talk about his short outing with the local press after the game. Instead, he left in a huff, claiming a local TV station had a camera trained on him as he dressed, opting to allow others to speak for him like Phillies lefties of yore, such as Steve Carlton and Don Carman.

We dont need to lose any more pitchers. That we definitely dont need to do, Manuel said. We definitely need to keep him in the rotation if possible.

A quick scan of the Phillies roster reads like a medical chart. Ryan Madson was expected back early this week only to be placed on the disabled list where he joined pitchers Roy Oswalt, Jose Contreras, Brad Lidge and Joe Blanton. Thats a list that includes the teams last three closers and 40 percent of the Opening Day rotation.

So yes, the Phillies hope they got a break that Hamels did not suffer a serious injury.

Then again, Amaro says Hamels wanted to stay in the game despite the swollen right hand, but pitching coach Rich Dubee made the call. With an injured hand, Dubee reasoned, another shot back at him would have left the pitcher defenseless.

But thats the only break the Phillies got on Thursday afternoon. Hamels had been dealing into the fourth, holding the Sox to just a pair of hits without a walk and a couple of strikeouts. Through four innings, Hamels had faced just one more than the minimum.

With Hamels four scoreless innings, the Phillies starters finished June with a 1.96 ERA. According to STATS, Inc., the Phillies are the first club to finish a month with an ERA lower than 2.00 since the Cubs and Braves did it in July of 1992. With pitching like that its no wonder the Phillies (51-31) have the best record in baseball.

Moreover, Manuel thinks his team can improve in the second half.

I think theyve been very impressive, Manuel said about his starters. I look for our lineup to get healthy and well hit better. I think if we can get some runs for our starters early theyll be even better.

Certainly Hamels abbreviated outing could take the Phillies only so far. Better yet, make that the two hits the team mustered against Sox lefty Jon Lester took the Phils only so far. To notch his 10th win of the season, Lester allowed just three Phillies to make it to second base and kept them hitless through four innings. His 120th pitch was a cutter that buzzed past Raul Ibanez for his fifth strikeout to end the seventh inning.

The Phillies rallied slightly in the ninth, getting a two-run homer from Ryan Howard (his 17th bomb of the year), but all that really did was push the game into a save situation.

Still, the dearth of scoring isnt exactly a favorite topic in the Phillies clubhouse. Though they scored nine runs in the three games against the Red Sox and 12 in the last four games, the Phillies won three of those.

Im tired of hearing about how many runs we dont score, Howard said. We score enough runs to win games.

That might be a chicken or the egg argument. Do the Phillies win because of the pitching or because they get just enough hitting. Which comes first? Whatever the answer, first place is not a bad place to be.

I like where were at. I like being in first place, Manuel said. But at the same time, I think we can play better and in the second half of the season I think we will play better.

Next up, the Phillies hit the road for three games in Toronto and three more in Florida. All three games in Toronto will start at 1:07 p.m. with the following pitching matchups:

Friday: Kyle Kendrick vs. LHP Ricky Romero (7-7, 2.74)
Saturday: Roy Halladay vs. RHP Carlos Villanueva (5-1, 3.15)
Sunday: Cliff Lee vs. LHP Jo-Jo Reyes (3-7, 4.77)

Related: Hamels hit by liner, expected to make next startStruggling Ibanez turns back clock in Phils' win
E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JRFingerCSN.

Contact Us