NL East: After Win, Phillies One Game Back of First Place Braves
What else is there to say about the starting pitching and, more specifically, Cole Hamels?
The guy has been lights out for most of the season, and appears to be more focused than he's ever been during his time in Philly. The immature side-issues seem all but gone, he appears to have grown up, and he seems to really be hitting his stride as a consistent pitcher.
I don't think it's a stretch to say that there are more than a few teams that would do back-flips if Hamels were their ace, and it's possible he's not even the second-best pitcher on this staff.
Pitching has kept this team from a complete meltdown, and with Hamels pitching seven scoreless innings and the Phils pulling one out from the Brewers 1-0 on Friday night, they have moved to only one game behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East.
They've said their goal is not only to make the playoffs, but to do it as NL East champs. For them, they say, nothing else matters. A Wild Card spot is not acceptable.
However, it seems like the pitchers are the only guys who truly feel that way.
Putting aside the team's unbelievable win against the Colorado Rockies Thursday night, the pitching staff has been the only thing preventing a Cardinals-like fall from contention.
Even the one run the Phils were able to score should have been an out. Everyone and anyone watching the game could see that. I bet even those of you watching with your girlfriend got a nudge on the shoulder and a rather confused "shouldn't he have caught that?"
Yeah, he should have.
And, of course, by "he," I mean either one of them.
For now the Phillies will take the one run, take the win and move on to the next game, but they're not going to get by on one run come playoff time. The offense seems to just show up whenever it feels like it and doesn't truly start hitting until Joe Blanton backs them into a corner by giving up five runs with one swing of the bat in the first inning.
Don't laugh (or call me a moron). If anyone can do it, it's Blanton.
They'll all celebrate the win for now, but the lack of offense will become a serious problem very soon if it's not addressed and fixed permanently.
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