Sorry for the delay on this post. I’ve up in Sioux Falls all day today, running some errands and seeing the fam.
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Here’s a quick question for you:
What do Josh Beckett, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Jack Morris, John Smoltz, Orel Hershiser and Cole Hamels all have in common?
They’ve all now won four games in the same postseason.
Hamels, the 24-year-old ace of the Philadelphia Phillies, held the Tampa Bay Rays to two runs in seven innings as Philly won the World Series opener 3-2 on Wednesday night.
On the biggest stage in front of a national audience (yeah, the ratings were down), Hamels allowed five hits – two extra base hits – with five strikeouts in another seven-inning performance. The southpaw allowed a solo home run to Carl Crawford on a curveball and an RBI double by Akinori Iwamura. And that was it.
And watching Hamels last night was a study in how to use a changeup. As I’ve said before, Hamels has one of the best, if not the best, changeups in the majors, and he was throwing it at any time in any count. And the most amazing thing is, he can throw it in the middle of the plate, but hitters are so out front, they have no chance.
The changeup is one of the main reasons Hamels is now 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA in the playoffs this season. And here’s something to consider: He could be the first starting pitcher EVER to win five games in the same postseason. Both Randy Johnson and Francisco Rodriguez have five wins in one postseason, but all of K-Rod’s and one of Johnson’s wins came in relief.
And adding more to the changeup talk, Hamels has surrendered just 2 hits in 27 at-bats (.074 opposing batting average) on his best pitch. In all, opponents are hitting .130 against him in the playoffs, but when he’s been hurt, it’s been on fastballs left up and hanging curveballs. Hamels is basically a two-pitch pitcher, but will occasionally mix in a curve.
As ESPN’s Jayson Stark writes in this column: Hamels “Is making it more clear, with every journey to the mound this month, that he is baseball’s most irreplaceable animal — a genuine, no-question-about-it No. 1 starter.”
Stark also points out that Hamels’ win in Game 1 made him the third-youngest left-handed starting pitcher in baseball history to win a World Series opener. Ray Sadecki was one of the other two. The third? Babe Ruth. In addition, Hamels became the first lefty to win a World Series opener on the road in 22 years.
Some have called me obsessed with Cole Hamels. But I’m nothing like this from Dave Larzelere.