The Baseball Notebook

July 23, 2010 6:50 AM

Hamels Acts Like An Ace

Hamels.jpgCole Hamels hasn't always looked the part of an ace lately, at least not since he was seen drenched in champagne following the 2008 World Series. But at a critical point in the Phillies' season, the lefthander has started acting the part again. Yesterday, in the afternoon heat of St. Louis, he went toe-to-toe with Adam Wainwright, as each pitched shutout ball. Though Hamels didn't get the win, his team did eventually score in the 11th to win 2-0. It marks the fourth straight strong outing for Hamels and lowered his ERA to 3.63. With Philadelphia still in range of the wild-card, at 3 ½ out, a vibrant Hamels coupled with Roy Halladay can be a huge force down the stretch and in the postseason.

Other arms came up clutch last night too. John Lackey took a no-hitter into the eighth inning for Boston and left the game in Seattle with a 6-1 lead at the conclusion of the frame. Then the drama went another direction. Manny Delcarmen, just back from the disabled list couldn't get anyone out, and Jonathan Papelbon walked two and gave up a double. Next thing you knew, Papelbon had his fourth blown save in what has become a mediocre year and one of the more underreported reasons as to why the Red Sox are fighting to hang on. And Lackey's win was out the window. Boston still won in the 13th thanks to two shutout innings from Hideki Okajima, and kept within four of Tampa Bay for the AL wild-card.

The Dodgers got their second straight shutout, as Hiroki Kuroda followed up Chad Billingsley. Although maybe Kuroda's goose egg should come up with an asterisk--it did come against the Mets, who can't seem to hit anybody these days. Matt Kemp drove in an early run and hit a solo shot in the seventh to provide LAD's two runs. It enabled the Dodgers to keep pace with San Francisco, who--you guessed it--got a big-time pitching outing from Matt Cain. He threw eight shutout frames in Arizona to get a 3-0 win.

But no ace gets more ink than Cliff Lee, and last night he again showed he's worth all the accolades. A showdown series opened up in Arlington, as the Ranges hosted the Angels. Under normal circumstances, Jered Weaver's performance--6 IP, 3 ER against a good offense in a hitter's park--would be considered excellent. But not when Lee is the opponent. He worked into the ninth inning and gave up only five hits. Texas won 3-2. With three more games ahead in this series, and the Rangers already six up, the AL West race could be over by Sunday night.

Trade talk...

Arizona is talking seriously about moving Dan Haren. This isn't one of those trades where a lot of analysis is required. While Haren hasn't had a great year his track record shows he's the kind of impact arm who's worth paying for. And what contender doesn't need extra pitching? Whatever contender that's able to get him should get him.

Photo courtesy of Chris O'

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