The Phillies raced out to a 3-0 lead, but Cole Hamels, who had been getting ahead and commanding his fastball through three innings, unraveled for two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth, taking the loss in an 8-5 defeat.
Beerleaguer: Hamels exhausted every last ounce of 2008 goodwill tonight. It should come as no great shock that it started after a 3-2 pitch to Mark Teixeira didn't go his way in the fourth. We've seen this all season. After that, it's as if everything he'd established through the first three innings got tossed out the window. It's one thing to get burned by the A-Rods of the world. You tread lightly with hitters like him. But a pitcher of Hamels' ability, who had been popping a good fastball to set up his change, needs to pull the string ahead in the count against average hitters like Nick Swisher. Then he goes with a curveball to Andy Pettitte and it's enough to make Chase Utley run to the mound and wring his neck. On a team of true tough guys, Hamels has isolated himself with yet another soft start - this one in the biggest game of his career - and one can't help but wonder what his future holds.
Carlos Ruiz can't escape blame, either. Chooch called for the curve against Swisher and did nothing to keep Hamels on task in the fourth and fifth. Watch the replay; Hamels' curve must look like a gift from god for a right-handed hitter.
Meanwhile, tonight provided front-row seats to the Yankees' Halloween horror show of confident starting pitching and explosive hitting. The night, which was extended 90 minutes due to a rain delay, included a veteran performance by Pettitte and homers by A-Rod, Swisher and Hideki Matsui. Pettitte was terrific after the second inning, as he and the Yankees' bullpen held Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez hitless. (Three of them looked horrible tonight; Vic had a sac fly.) Jayson Werth's right-handed muscle was one of the lone highlights, going deep twice including a bomb off the facing of the second deck in left. Ruiz also went deep in the ninth. Out of the 'pen, J.A. Happ, Chad Durbin and Brett Myers, three pitchers I could give or take at this stage, were unimpressive and allowed a run in each of their innings. For Happ, it's been a forgettable, if somewhat tragic, finish to an otherwise spotless season, considering he's needed to watch his teammate ratchet up a 7.58 ERA in four postseason starts.