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Cole Hamels admits to hitting Bryce Harper, 'Natitude' Park, and more in Phillies Weekly Recap

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Three up, Three Down! With Matt Babiarz

Each week, Philly2Philly’s Matt Babiarz will wrap up the previous seven days of Phillies’ baseball with Three Up, Three Down.  It’s a rundown of 3 positives and 3 negatives from the past week.

Chooch photo: David M. Warren

THREE UP!

1.  CHOOOOOOCH the All-Star

If you asked Phillies fans to rank their top three favorite players and assigned points for first, second and third choices, I am willing to bet that Carlos Ruiz would end up as the most popular player on the team.

Right now, he may also be the most unpopular Phillie among opposing team’s pitchers, as he is on an absolute tear at the plate.  He set a franchise record for most RBI in a game by a catcher in Wednesday night’s loss to the Braves (the last Phillie to have 7 RBI in a single game?  That would be former Phils’ pitcher Robert Person in 2002).

Chooch’s numbers from the past week have been incredible.  In his last six games, Ruiz has 13 RBI, 3 doubles, 3 homers, and a batting average of .450.  He now leads all major league catchers in RBI (18) and batting average (.338), and could become a favorite to be the National League’s starting catcher in the All-Star game.

2. Blanton in 88

“Blanton in 88” may sound like a campaign slogan, but it is actually the best summary of Joe Blanton’s complete game shutout of the Braves on Thursday.  

Blanton improved to 3-3 in the first complete game shutout of his Phillies career.  And he finished the job in only 88 pitches.  It was the fewest pitches thrown in a complete game in the majors this year.   The 2 hour and 2 minute gem was likely the best performance of Blanton’s eight-year career, as he surrendered only 3 hits, while striking out six and walking none.  And of those 88 pitches he threw, 67 were strikes.

3.  Hamels Finally Getting Some Support

Over the last two seasons, Cole Hamels has the poster child for starting pitchers who lack run support.  But, as bad as the 2012 Phillies offense has been, it has shown some life when Hamels has taken the mound.

Hamels is off to a 4-1 start, and the Phillies have averaged 5.67 runs per game in Hamels’ six starts this season.  

Maybe it’s not just the fan base that wants Hamels to stay in Philly beyond this season!

THREE DOWN!

1.  Phillies Fans Still Own Nationals Park, but…..

It was pretty obvious after Hunter Pence went deep off of Stephen Strasburg that Nationals fans did not, in fact, take back their ballpark.  Half of the crowd was on its feet cheering as Pence circled the bases.  

The Nationals and their lame fans did their best to make it seem like their home field was sacred, but the bottom line is that they still can’t draw people to watch an exciting, young team that is leading its division.   

And that’s what made the Nationals series hard to watch.  Phillies fans were there in full force, but the end-of-game celebrations belonged to the folks in Nationals gear.  The result was a weak fan base that felt like it had enough “Natitude” to make the difference, when really the only thing that mattered was that the Phillies continued to flounder.  
Freddy Galvis photo: Yong Kim
2.  Bye-Bye Freddie

I’ve said it many times.  When Charlie Manuel expresses complete confidence in a player who has been taken out of the starting lineup, it is the kiss of death for that player (I call it the Ben Francisco/Jon Mayberry Jr. theory).  

Well, this week featured Manuel’s vote of confidence for the offensively challenged Freddie Galvis.  Charlie can say anything he wants about how much faith he has in a player, and how much he loves a terrific fielder.   However, when a young player is not hitting the ball (Galvis is currently batting .190), you can bet that Charlie will not stick with him for too long.

3.  Bryce Harper Steals the Phillies’ SparkBryce Harper photo: ESPN

The set-up was perfect. The Phillies drop the first two games to the Nationals.  Cole Hamels takes the mound to salvage the series.  Bryce Harper comes to bat in the first inning (FYI: In case you missed it, Bryce Harper is 19 years old.  I actually already knew that, but ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball crew managed to mention it 15 times in the first inning of their Bryce Harper love-fest).  Hamels then proceeds to plant the first pitch squarely in Harper’s back. After the game, Hamels admitted that he plunked Harper on purpose.

Unfortunately, Harper went from first to third on a single by Jayson Werth, who broke his wrist later in the game. Then, Harper promptly stole home to give the Nats a 1-0 lead.  We were then treated to a thorough analysis of Harper’s amazing baserunning and heads-up plays.

Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com.   You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net  

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Photos:
Chooch: David M. Warren
Galvis: Yong Kim
Harper: ESPN