Cole Hamels will be asked to do what ace pitchers are expected to do: stop a losing streak dead in its tracks.
I’ll admit, when the floodgates opened last night in the sixth, I reasoned "At least Cole Hamels pitches tomorrow."
That’s the kind of statement Mets fans will say after Jose Lima gets ripped a new one tonight against the Cards, and Jeremi Gonzalez loses to Randy Johnson and the Yankees on Friday. "At least Pedro pitches tomorrow."
Optimistic? Yes. Out of the question? No.
Though he lasted just five innings and gave up five walks in his major league debut, Hamels still lived up to the hype. He held the Reds without a hit until the fifth, and looked more poised than any rookie I’ve ever seen.
King Cole will be handed the ball in an important situation this afternoon. The Phillies will be looking to avoid a sweep that would wash out the three wins they took in Cincinnati. Level-headed fans will say a 3-3 roadtrip is more a success than failure. I will not.
Milwaukee will also send a rookie pitcher to the hill for his second start. Left-hander Dana Eveland (0-0, 9.53) gave up seven hits and six runs in 5 2-3 innings against the Mets last Saturday before he was yanked.
The Phillies struggles against left-handers go without saying. How’s this for cockeyed: If I was asked to pick two Phillies to face a left-hander in a critical at bat right now, at this moment, I'd take Shane Victorino and Ryan Howand. Pat Burrell would be there if he was in a better groove.
Check out these averages vs. LHP: Chase Utley (.217), Bobby Abreu (.194!), Aaron Rowand (.194), David Bell (.182).
Last night’s ninth inning was a situation custom-built for Arthur Rhodes, and he blew it. Rhodes has been living on the edge this season and finally fell off the cliff. He’s allowing 1.90 hits or walks an inning.
After some nice early moments, the bullpen is starting to crack. It’s safe to say the strengths and weaknesses are starting to settle in, and the back-end of the bullpen was expected to be the Achilles Heel. Jon Lieber, Brett Myers and Cory Lidle are now pitching as expected. Gavin Floyd is what he is. The defense has disappointed, but not lately. The offense has been lackluster, but different heroes have emerged.
The Phillies are still searching for a steady bridge to link starter to closer. Ryan Madson, Ryan Franklin, Rheal Cormier and Rhodes are keys to this team.
The Mets have been on the ropes of late, going 4-6 in their last 10. Meanwhile, the Braves are 8-2, and now just 2.5 games back of the Phillies.