Hamels, who had his start pushed back from Tuesday to today, has suffered an incomprehensible 2013. One can only wonder what a vintage Hamels start against the MLB-best Pirates (52-31) could do for his psyche.
As for the Phillies (40-45), how imperative would a quality series win be to close a road trip before opening a vitally important homestand? After Thursday, the Phils come home for what may be 10 do-or-die games against the Braves (49-35), Nationals (42-42), and White Sox (33-48).
So, yes, in regards to the Phillies’ 2013 destiny, this Fourth of July tilt in Pittsburgh could go a long way.
Hamels (2-11, 4.58) takes the mound with two extra days of rest. The left-hander has thrown 11 quality starts this season, but is just 2-6 in those games (2.70 ERA, 22 ER, 73.1 IP).
And stunningly, the Phillies are 3-14 this season in games that Hamels has started and a day outing may not be the cure to his woes. Hamels has a 5.11 ERA in six day starts this season compared to a 3.81 ERA in nine night starts.
However, the Phillies hope his career 1.57 ERA (three starts) at PNC Park and a mini mental vacation can right his ship. Moreover, the only Pirate with an extensive history and standout numbers against Hamels is Gaby Sanchez, who is 9 for 30 (.300) versus the lefty with a couple of homers.
Opposing Hamels is Pittsburgh’s promising 22-year-old right-hander Gerrit Cole (4-0, 3.77), the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder has won all of his first four big-league starts, beating the Giants, Dodgers, Angels and Brewers.
A good omen for the Phillies: they are 8-1 in their last nine Fourth of July games. Ironically, the lone loss came in 2010 at PNC Park against the Pirates.
Here are today’s lineups:
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Chase Utley, 2B
3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Domonic Brown, LF
6. Delmon Young, RF (14 for his last 28, .500 avg.)
7. Kevin Frandsen, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Cole Hamels, P
1. Starling Marte, LF
2. Jose Tabata, RF
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
5. Russell Martin, C
6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
7. Neil Walker, 2B
8. Clint Barmes, SS (4 for 8, 1 HR, 3 RBI vs. Hamels)
9. Gerrit Cole, P