The ace did it again.
Cole Hamels held the Los Angeles Dodgers to two runs in seven innings as the Philadelphia Phillies beat LA 3-2 in the opener of the National League Championship Series.
In the biggest start of his career, Hamels kept his cool after allowing two early runs and ran into trouble only twice in the game.
In the first inning, back-to-back doubles hurt Hamels. Andre Either started with a shot to left center, then Manny Ramirez cranked a ball 420 feet off the centerfield fence for perhaps the longest double I’ve ever seen, putting the Dodgers up 1-0.
Then in the fourth inning, Matt Kemp led off with a double, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a Blake DeWitt sacrifice fly. 2-0 Dodgers at that point.
But in the sixth, the Philly bats finally woke up. Shane Victorino reached on an error, Chase Utley cranked a two-run homer, and Pat Burrell planted a Derek Lowe fastball into the seats. The Phillies pulled ahead 3-2.
And that’s how it ended.
For the game, the 24-year-old Hamels struck out eight Dodgers in seven innings to earn his second win of the playoffs. In two starts this postseason, Hamels has allowed two runs in 15 innings with 17 strikeouts. And in those two starts, Hamels has out-dueled the aces of both opposing pitching staffs — C.C. Sabathia for the Brewers and Lowe for the Dodgers.
Just a quick side note to the game: During the eighth inning of the FOX broadcast, the moron known as Tim McCarver said Phillies reliever Ryan Madsen has “the best changeup on the staff.” I literally couldn’t believe it. Are you effing kidding me, McCarver? I know anything that idiot says has to be taken with a giant grain of salt, but seriously, he had just watched Hamels pitch for seven innings and suddenly he forgot. That’s like saying Mike Redmond is the best hitting catcher on the Minnesota Twins. Aside from Johan Santana, I’d say Cole Hamels has the best changeup in the majors. The changeup is Hamels’ out pitch and he used it to strike out eight batters Tuesday.
Sorry, I was just so confused.
Anyway, the Phillies have a 1-0 lead in the series and will send Brett Myers to the bump for Friday afternoon’s Game 2.