Tonight, the Phillies will send Cole Hamels out to face St. Louis southpaw Jamie Garcia to determine which team will be facing elimination tomorrow in Game 4 of their best of 5 series. For now, however, all that matters is today’s game. It might end up being one of the most pivotal games of the postseason.
Hamels’ only outing against St. Louis this year came less than one month ago on September 18th, in which he yielded 4 ER in 7 IP. Albert Pujols homered off of him in the first, and outfielder Allen Craig added two dingers of his own. Despite his mediocre final line, Hamels struck out 9 and didn’t walk a single Cardinals batter. Current Cardinals batters are hitting just above .250 off Hamels on their career.
Some people have said Hamels hasn’t been the same since coming off the DL in August, but the man has been working his way back into form ever since and I expect him to be 100% healthy and focused this evening knowing that the team is relying on him more than ever.
Ryan Howard, St. Louis native, typically rakes when playing in his hometown. He has only two hits in 12 ABs against Garcia, but one of those went yard. I expect Hunter Pence, a righty, to have a big night. We will need some extra base hits from him to get things rolling.
It’s going to be a close game so the Phillies must find a way to score more than a couple runs to win this one. Hamels will keep them in it, but don’t expect a CG shutout. One or two earned runs from Hamels and one or two home runs from Howard and Pence and I’ll be a happy, red-pinstriped camper.