Cole Hamels found trouble in the second inning. Better yet, Todd Helton found Hamels… that’s right, Todd Helton is trouble. On the first pitch of the inning, Helton smacked it off the wall above the 409 sign in the deepest part of the park. After a crazy carom past Aaron Rowand and to Shane Victorino pursuing from right field, Helton beat the ball to third for a triple.
Half-dozen pitches later, Garrett Atkins (Chase Utley’s UCLA teammate) laced a single to left to open the scoring. A one-out walk and single made it 2-0. Hamels, strangely, is clearly struggling. He’s also sweating like Dom DeLuise at a clam bake. It’s quite humid outside today, which for the folks arriving in town from sunny and temperate Colorado, feeling our heavy, thick east-coast air must be misery.
Speaking of misery, the Rockies added another run as sweaty Cole Hamels walked Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded.
Hamels is teetering on the edge. He whiffed Holliday to end the threat, but strike one to the possible MVP was a freaking bomb that sailed over the foul/fair pole, onto the concourse and very likely onto the street that borders the park to the north… is that Phillies Way?
Either way, it was a bleeping rocket. Worse, Hamels threw 40 pitches in the second inning.
Contrarily, Jeff Francis continued to deal. He whiffed Ryan Howard to start the frame, got Rowand to ground out on a two-strike pitch and then made Wes Helms pop out harmlessly to second.
Nevertheless, Pat Burrell walked to become the Phillies’ first post-season base runner in 14 years.
Todd Helton is a tremendous baseball player. This is like saying pizza tastes yummy. Regardless, Todd Helton is a great baseball player.
I read something recently in which former Rockies’ and Royals’ manager Buddy Bell said that Helton understood the competitiveness of baseball better than anyone he had ever met. I don’t know what that statement means, but it’s quite a significant thing to say. For starters, it’s significant because there are more than a handful of guys in the big leagues that would thrash out their mother’s larynx if it gave them an edge in a game.
It’s also significant because Buddy Bell is a link to a baseball legacy. Buddy was an All-Star, his father was an All-Star, and his son, David, enjoyed a long career in the big leagues. This means that baseball isn’t just a game or a job to the Bells – it’s the familt business. It runs deep.
So yes, Todd Helton is a fantastic player. He is also appearing in the first post-season of his 11-year career, covering 1,578 games. That should worry Charlie Manuel and the Phillies a little bit, because Helton is not going to take his first-ever series lightly.
My guess is he attempts to thrash out a larynx if given the chance.
Hamels rebounded after his mulligan to retire the Rockies in order in the third. However, it took him 20 more pitches, which puts him at 71.
Be that as it may, Hamels got the Phillies first playoff hit in 14 seasons with one out in the third. Had Francis gotten two more outs without giving up a hit we would have opened up the no-hitter pool here in the press box. Earlier this summer I got my first-ever win in the no-hitter pool – that’s $55 coming back.
Anyway, Jimmy Rollins took care of those last two outs by grounding into an around-the-horn double play.