The last time Cole Hamels took the mound in Cincinnati, the Phillies' left-hander twirled a gem as the team completed its first postseason sweep since ... well, since the beginning of time.
In that October 10 ballgame, Hamels yielded just five hits (four of them singles) in a complete-game effort. He struck out nine batters, including Scott Rolen on a high fastball to end it, and did not walk a batter in his 119-pitch masterpiece. Chase Utley's fifth-inning homer off Johnny Cueto highlighted the Phillies' offense in the 2-0 victory.
Tonight, Hamels makes his first start in Cincinnati since that night. More importantly, he's making his first start anywhere since August 12. He allowed three runs in five innings against the Nationals in that contest, walking four batters and admitting afterwards that he couldn't get loosened up. The diagnosis was shoulder inflammation and a DL stint - albeit a heavily retroactive and procedural one - was the result. But tonight, Cole is back on the mound. And all eyes will be on the Phils' left-hander, his velocity and his body language.
As CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury notes: "You could make a case that this is the most important start that any Phillies pitcher has made this season."