Cole Hamels saves Phillies in Game 1 of NLDS

As Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann noted in his piece about the Phillies’ 3-1 victory over the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLDS, ace Cole Hamels saved Philly’s poor bats with an exceptional pitching performance.

Cole HamelsBecause the truth is, the Phillies did not hit a bunch in their 3-1 win over the Brewers. They had only four hits on a rainy, dreary afternoon. All three runs were unearned, thanks to some sloppy third-inning defense by the Brewers. The Phillies’ great fear after hitting .172 in last year’s playoff series against Colorado was upon them again. They worked some counts against Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo and got him out of the game quickly, but they really did not hit. It was a concern last year and it is a concern this year, especially with CC Sabathia pitching Game 2 for the Brewers.

But Hamels saved them. Cool, calm, collected and with a killer change-up, Hamels had the Brewers off-stride all day. Masterful is not too strong a word. Through eight dominant innings, he allowed only two singles, one in the fifth inning and one in the sixth, and struck out nine. Only one Milwaukee runner reached second base with Hamels on the mound. Again, masterful.

What that does for a team is hard to explain. What it does for a team that didn’t hit last year in the playoffs, and sometimes struggled to score runs this year, and didn’t really hit all that much during the game, is impossible to understate.

He calmed them. He bolstered them. He was as soothing as Brad Lidge was nerve-wracking in the ninth.

With how much firepower Milwaukee has in their lineup, there has to be some concern among the Philly faithful about the lack of offense the Phillies showed today, because obviously the team won’t get a Hamels-type pitching effort every game. But the fans and team can certainly enjoy this win, which was the club’s first postseason victory since Game 5 of the 1993 World Series when the Phils beat the Toronto Blue Jays.

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