The Phillies beat the Reds today to complete a 4-game sweep and head into the All-Star break. And for the first time this week, they did not need extra innings or a walk-off hit to beat them. And although the 1-0 victory was a very tight game, it felt more like the Phillies were in the driver’s seat the whole game.
Most of that had to do with the performance, and confidence, of pitcher Cole Hamels. He finally looked like the 2008 World Series MVP again. Not only was Hamels making his pitches, but he looked determined on the mound. More importantly, he was never rattled by bad calls or bad plays; and there were plenty of those to go around.
For instance, Ryan Howard dropped a pop-up. In his defense, it was a tough play. Also the first base umpire called a runner safe when replay showed he was out by a good amount. And then there was the home plate umpire who had a strike zone most of the day that was about the size of a pea. As the weather got hotter though, it looked like he expanded it a little. See here as a pitch to Carlos Ruiz is called a strike; note that the ball crosses the plate at his elbow. And here is the Howard play as well:
But despite the miscues, Hamels kept right on pitching with fervor. After Howard dropped the ball and the ump blew the call at first, in both cases Hamels got a double play to erase the mistakes. You cannot ask for more than that from your pitcher; well done. Here are a few more photos:
Not so well done was the following: TWO fan interference calls which necessitated TWO booth reviews on balls that looked like home runs. Ruiz hit the first one, but on replay it was a double and the fan really did not affect it too much.
The next one was a hit by Jayson Werth where the fan reached over the wall and snagged the ball. While it also was not a homer, had the ball been left alone, it would have bounced off the wall. Centerfielder Drew Stubbs was jumping up for the ball, which then would have bounced far away from him, possibly enabling Werth to go to third base or even score an inside-the-park homer. But because of the fan, it was a ground rule double and we will never know what could have been.
Ok people, I am officially putting Stupid Fans ON NOTICE. Not all Phils fans; just the STUPID ones (you know who you are). One day soon, if this trend continues, like the fan who took a pop-up away from Werth on Thursday, a fan is going to cost this team a game. Mark my words: it will happen. Today it did not; Thursday it did not; but it is coming. If you are lucky enough to have a seat in the front row of a section and simple cannot or will not pay full attention to the game and its rules, give your seat to someone who will.
And the Phillies need to start cracking down on this behavior. Anyone who leans into the field of play or interfere’s with a player should be ejected and fined. The Phils “say” they will do this, but more times than not, I see the same idiot fan still in his seat, waiting to ruin another play. Let’s put it this way, follow the rules and respect the game otherwise, I will suggest to the Phillies that they have Jayson Werth run around the stadium and cuss out the entire front row. You know he will do it ;o)
And no, I do not condone Werth’s language during the incident on Thursday. It did make me sad for that poor kid. But he did have a point. If you are a fan of the game, act like one. PAY ATTENTION. Thank you.
And now back to the game :O) Sorry for the rant interlude…
The Phillies offense had only 4 hits and 1 run as both pitchers were doing well. Jimmy Rollins had 2 of the 4 hits plus the lone RBI; the other two hits were the fan-interference doubles. Hamels wound up pitching 7 2/3 innings without allowing a run. Jose Contreras ended the 8th and JC Romero got the first out of the 9th.
Romero looked like he was on fire as he mowed down his one hitter. So when Charlie Manuel came out of the dugout to bring in Brad Lidge for the save, most of the crowd began hollering and boo’ing. Not only did Romero look great, but Lidge has been anything but great this year. With only 5 save in 8 attempts, Lidge makes people nervous. But Manuel is determined Lidge will get better and today, he did. Two quick outs and the save was intact, plus a win for Hamels. Whew!
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
Closing out the first half of 2010 with a 4-game sweep was a much needed boost to this Phillies team that has struggled most of the year with injuries, slumps and sloppy play. This series could be the engine that propels them into a great second half.
But for now, All-Star fever is upon us. Before today’s game, the coaching staff and players were given their All-Star jerseys. Even the Phanatic got one; he was very excited. And All-Star Mickey Mouse made an appearance at the stadium as well:
Here is the All-Star schedule of events:
July 11: Taco Bell All-Star Sunday at Angel Stadium featuring: XM All-Star Futures Game & Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game; All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run
July 12: Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Angel Stadium featuring: State Farm Home Run Derby
July 13: 11:30 a.m. – Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet (Parade Route: along Convention Way and Harbor Blvd. ending in Disney Way)
8:00pm – 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography