Inside the Phillies: Same locked-in Hamels, leaky Reds

Cole Hamels gets a hug from Charlie Manuel after subduing the Reds with heat and precision.
Cole Hamels gets a hug from Charlie Manuel after subduing the Reds with heat and precision.
Posted: October 11, 2010

CINCINNATI - Charlie Manuel made an astute observation before the Phillies' National League division series with the Cincinnati Reds.

"I think [the Reds] remind me a lot of us about three years ago," the Phillies' manager said. "They have a lot of life, they have a lot of energy, they love playing the game, and they've got some good players."

What the Reds did not have was experience or the pitching weapons the Phillies threw at them during a three-game sweep that ended Sunday night at Great American Ball Park. The mostly youthful Reds were no match for Roy Halladay in Game 1, wilted defensively under pressure in Game 2, and were overmatched again by Cole Hamels during the Phillies' 2-0 victory in Game 3.

The Phillies' Big Three - Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Hamels - combined for a 1.17 ERA in the series, allowing just 10 hits and three earned runs in 23 innings.

Here's a look at some of the key moments in the latest game to lead to a champagne celebration in the Phillies' clubhouse:

Fastball, fastball, fastball

It had been 20 days since Hamels had thrown more than four innings or 84 pitches in a game.

That meant one of two things: Hamels, like Oswalt on Friday, could be rusty in his first start of the postseason, or he could come out with a live arm and pound the Reds with fastballs.

Fortunately for the Phillies, the latter scenario proved true. Hamels threw 15 pitches in the first inning, and 14 were fastballs. Twelve of the 14 were 93 m.p.h. or faster, four hit 95, and the final pitch of the inning - a called third strike to Scott Rolen - popped catcher Carlos Ruiz's glove at 96.

In addition to his lively fastball, Hamels had sharp command, an unbeatable combination that he used to continue his career dominance over the Reds. Hamels improved to 7-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.90 in eight career starts against Cincinnati.

He started the second inning the way he finished the first, pumping fastballs at the Reds. He started Jonny Gomes with three straight before retiring the Reds' leftfielder with a change-up.

As the game progressed, Hamels started to mix in his change-up more often.

After throwing mostly fastballs in the second inning, Hamels finished off the inning with three straight change-ups and registered a swinging strikeout on Orlando Cabrera.

Perhaps his best confrontation of the night came in the bottom of the sixth inning. By that point, some of the life had gone from Hamels' fastballs, but he proved he could beat the Reds with guile as well as power.

After striking out Drew Stubbs with a 91 m.p.h. cut fastball to start the inning, he finished it by fooling Joey Votto with an 84 m.p.h. change-up to end an eight-pitch at-bat by the all-star first baseman.

Hamels' maturity showed in the eighth when his 99th pitch of the night should have fallen into the glove of third baseman Placido Polanco or Ruiz for an out. Instead, Polanco and Ruiz could not decide who should handle it, and the third baseman could not handle the ball as he fell to the ground.

The Phillies lefthander calmly got out of the inning, ending it with a strikeout of Stubbs with a 94 m.p.h. fastball. Perhaps that was the pitch that persuaded Manuel to let Hamels finish what he had started, which was what he did for the first time since a Sept. 9, 2009, game against San Francisco.

Hamels the hitter

Unlike Halladay's in Game 1, Hamels' pitching gem did not include an RBI hit, but the lefthander's first encounter with Aroldis Chapman, the hard-throwing Cuban lefthander, was still impressive.

Hamels hit a 101-m.p.h. fastball for a hard drive to left-center field that Stubbs had to run down for an out. You won't see too many lefthanded pitchers hitting a ball that well off Chapman.

Another no-hit scenario

Halladay pitched a historic no-hitter in Game 1, and the Phillies scored without benefit of a hit in the sixth inning of Game 2. In keeping with the no-hit theme, the Phillies' first run in Game 3 came on an error.

With runners on first and third in the first inning, Jayson Werth rolled a grounder at Cabrera, who returned to the Reds' lineup at shortstop after leaving Game 1 and missing Game 2 with an injury to his side. Cabrera's injury may have affected his first throw of the night, which sailed on him, pulling Votto off first base.

Polanco scored on the play for the Phillies' sixth unearned run of the series.

The shift backfires

There are a lot of times during a season when Ryan Howard has to make a right turn after he crosses first base because he has hit a grounder into a defense that shifted three infielders to the right side and the third baseman to shortstop.

In Game 3, the Reds' shift backfired twice. If Cabrera had been playing his normal position at shortstop, he may have been able to get to Howard's first-inning bloop single into left field. In the third, Rolen had to go all the way from the shortstop position to his normal third-base position to field a grounder, and Howard was safe with a single.

Replay umpire

The review of Chase Utley's fifth-inning home run only took 1 minute, 13 seconds, about as fast as these things can get done under the current format. It could have been done in 15 seconds, however, if baseball would simply hire replay umpires to sit in a booth and review such events.

If commissioner Bud Selig is wise, he will one day have a replay umpire in a booth who reviews a lot more than home runs.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or

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