Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hamels the Hero Again

If game 1 is any indication, the 2008 World Series should be a good one. But the Rays won't win it unless they can either solve Cole Hamels or beat up on the rest of the Phillies rotation. Hamels put in another masterful post-season performance, holding the Rays to 5 hits over 7 innings, as the Phillies edged the Rays 3-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Hamels is now 4-0, 1.55 in four post-season appearances. He's limited hitters to a .178 average and struck out 27 batters in 29 innings. He got an immediate boost in last night's game when Chase Utley followed Jayson Werth's first inning walk with a 2-run home run to right field off of Scott Kazmir.

The Rays biggest threat came in the third inning when they loaded the bases on singles by Ben Zobrist and Aki Iwamura sandwiched around a Jason Bartlett walk. The Rays had their hottest hitter up in B.J. Upton, and Upton did hit a scorcher. But it was right at third baseman Pedro Feliz who started an inning ending 5-4-3 double play.

The Phillies added a run in the fourth inning that would be the difference in the ball game. Shane Victorino and Feliz stroked back to back singles off of Kazmir to start the inning, and moved up a base on Chris Coste's ground out. With the infield playing back to stop a big inning, Carlos Ruiz grounded to Bartlett for an RBI ground out. Kazmir got out of further trouble by striking out Jimmy Rollins to end the threat.

Carl Crawford got the Rays back in the ball game when he went yard against Hamels in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Phillies lead to 3-1. One inning later the Rays mounted a 2-out threat after Bartlett walked and stole second base. Iwamura came through with a big 2-out hit, doubling to left-center field to cut the margin to 3-2. But Hamels got Upton to foul out to end the inning.

The Phillies had a chance to increase their lead in a wild seventh inning. J.P. Howell came on to replace Kazmir and struck out Werth to start the inning. Chase Utley then singled, stole second base, and moved to third on Howell's wild pitch. But Howell bounced back and struck out Ryan Howard before issuing an unintentional intentional walk to Pat Burell. Joe Maddon sent for Grant Balfour, who made the move pay off by striking out Victorino to end the inning.

Ryan Madson was overpowering out of the Phils pen in the eighth, striking out Upton to punctuate a 1-2-3 inning. Then it was up to Brad Lidge who was perfect in 46 save chances during the regular season. No problem. He K'd Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria and then retired Crawford on a foul out to end the game.

News and Notes

The heart of the Rays order, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, and B.J. Upton, went a combined 0-12. Upton hit into two double plays in addition to a strike out and foul out.

Chase Utley joined a litany of players to homer in their first World Series at-bat.

Aki Iwamura had 3 of the 5 hits allowed by Cole Hamels.

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