When Mullet and I debated the Brewers-Phillies series yesterday, I thought that two of the points that I raised were very important to the Phillies' chances in their first round series against the Brewers: the Brewers' proclivity to mash left-handed pitching and how Cole Hamels, who's seen a big inning increase this year, would hold up against against that lineup in a year when he's thrown a ton of innings. I wasn't terribly positive about either front for the Phillies, but apparently I should have been.
Hamels dominated the Brewers over eight shutout innings today, striking out nine and holding them to only three baserunners. He kept Milwaukee's big bats off balance all afternoon with a nasty changeup that had almost everyone in the Brewers' lineup flailing like a little leaguer. In fact, he was so good that it seemed like Charlie Manuel made a mistake by bringing in Brad Lidge to pitch the ninth when Lidge gave up a run and stranded two more runners before finally striking out Corey Hart to end the game.
After being swept last year, Hamels set a great tone for the Phillies today. The Brewers were thoroughly dominated and tonight they're going to realize that they have to face him again in this series if they want to win it. If he's as good in his next start as he was today, that means the Brewers can't lose to anyone else. The first game of the series is always important to set the tone, but it's even more important in a short series and Cole Hamels gave the Phillies a stranglehold today.