Cole Hamels returned to MVP form last night against the Diamondbacks in a 4-3 win. Everyone was a little nervous in the 1st inning when Hamels allowed a solo home run, but after that, he settled in and did not allow another run. Even better than that, Hamels pitched all the way through 8 full innings, allowed only 4 hits and struck out nine batters. Welcome back, Cole! We missed you.
Shane Victorino led the offensive attack with 3 hits, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. The D-Backs helped out the Phillies offense as well with 2 key errors in the game, much like they did on Monday night. But those errors and the extra run the Phillies scored because of the errors turned out to be the difference in the game.
Going into the 9th with a 4-1 lead, the Phillies sent Brad Lidge to the mound and he immediately got into big trouble. Lidge walked the leadoff batter and then gave up a 2-run homer to the next batter to cut their lead to 1 run. By what must have been some act of God, Lidge managed to get the 3 outs and end the game without blowing the save.
But fans everywhere are now officially worried about Brad Lidge. No one expected perfection like last season, but a record of 0-4, 6 blown saves, 24 walks in 38 innings and an ERA of 7.11 was not expected either. The Phillies will not go far in the playoffs with a closer posting these numbers. Either Lidge needs to get his act together, or could Brett Myers return to the closer role in August, which is when he may return after hip surgery? Does this seem farfetched? Maybe. But Lidge cannot continue to hurt the team. Last night, he got lucky. Going forward, it will not always be the case.
And is this some sort of weird Phillies curse? You get a great season out of a guy, like Lidge in 2008; you sign him to a huge contract and mayhem ensues. Remember Pat Burrell? Burrell had a breakout season in 2002; then in 2003, the Phillies gave him a monster contact of 6 years, $50 million dollars and guess what happened next? Burrell struggled for years and did not fulfill his true potential until he led the Phillies to the playoffs in 2007 and then to the World Series in 2008. But from 2003-2006, it was not always pretty. Is Lidge suffering from the post-contract blues? Whatever the case, with 3 years invested in Lidge, the Phillies need to get him back on track and fast.
The Phillies have one more game against the D-Backs tonight at 9:40pm with JA Happ on the mound. I am in San Francisco right now awaiting their arrival on Thursday for a 4-game series against the Giants. And while I am very excited to see Giants pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito, disappointment set in this morning when it was announced that Randy Johnson has a torn rotator cuff and will be out for at least 3 weeks. Johnson is a future Hall of Famer, so I was hoping to see him pitch. I even tried to see his 300th win in DC back in June, but the game was rained out and I could not go the next day. And such is my luck…oh well! I still get to see my Phillies and hang out in California for a week, so it’s all good :O)
Off topic, I would like to send out my condolences to the family and friends of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson. Johnson lost his battle with cancer yesterday at the age of 68. May he rest in peace.
Photo by Jenn