Sep 042010

Phillies lefty Cole Hamels

September 4 Philadelphia Daily News

“THE BALL WENT up into the lingering sunlight and Shane Victorino couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment. Routine fly ball to left leading off the top of the second. But manager Charlie Manuel always wants his players to hustle, so he sprinted toward first, just because.

And ended up scoring the winning run.

Suddenly, a Phillies season that has lurched forward and fallen back, blown a gasket or two and then found a groove, seemed hopelessly off course and then turned itself around, finds itself in that happy place where everything that can go right seemingly does. Murphy’s Law, only in reverse.

So, of course, Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun and centerfielder Lorenzo Cain, close enough to shake hands, stood looking at each other while the ball dropped softly onto the outfield grass between them.

And, naturally, that gift double turned into a run when Victorino moved to third on an infield out by Raul Ibanez and scored when Carlos Ruiz did the same.

And after that it only stood to reason that Cole Hamels would blank the Brewers on just three hits through seven innings and that Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson would finish it off and that the Phillies would win, 1-0, for their seventh victory in the last eight games.

A little bit of luck and a lot of great starting pitching can go a long way, as the Phillies have repeatedly demonstrated in the last week.

“Surprised? Yeah, of course,” Victorino said. “But I hit the ball and I’m going to run. Then I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, it fell in.’ I’ll take it.”

Not long afterward, the Braves lost at Florida, so the Phillies are now just a game out of first in the National League East, the closest they’ve been since Aug. 6. And for the rest of this series and the next, they’re in a position to make a move since the Braves are on the road where they’re 29-38 compared to 49-19 at Turner Field.

It isn’t easy to win getting just four hits, but Hamels made it stand up. For so much of the year, he’s been a hard-luck pitcher. His teammates have scored two or fewer runs in 13 of his 28 starts. Last month, he lost 1-0 in back-to-back starts.”

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