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Location, location, location. Cole Hamels' problem haunted him as he continued to struggle with his command in the Phillies 4-2 loss to the New York Mets.
After an hour and sixteen minute rain delay, baseball was underway. Ryan Howard continued his hot hitting with a RBI single in the first inning. The Mets tied the game at one on Daniel Murphy's ground out.
Hamels can't seem to find control of his fastball. Carlos Ruiz set up down and in to Angel Pagan. The pitch was right down the middle, resulting in a run batted in for Pagan. For Jeff Francouer, Ruiz's glove was positioned high and out of the strike zone. Again, the pitch was down the middle, and Francouer took advantage. Francouer (3-for-4) homered and the Mets had a 3-1 lead. The Mets added another run on Omir Santos' sacrifice fly in foul territory, in which Howard made a terrific catch on.
Because Hamels is unable to locate his fastball, he can not throw his changeup effectively. His velocity is there, he just needs command of his fastball to set up his off-speed pitches. It isn't that he is close; he is missing his spots badly. Once Hamels gains command of his pitches and stays away from the middle of the plate, he'll be the successful pitcher he once was.
Hamels lasted five innings. He gave up four earned runs on ten hits. At least he made them hit their way on. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. No Phillies starter has walked a batter since Sunday. Chan Ho Park's walk to Jeremy Reed ended a 33 walk-less streak by the Phillies staff.
The Phillies had plenty of chances to score, but did not capitalize. They were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. After Pedro Feliz's RBI single, the Phillies had a golden opportunity to score in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Ben Francisco and Jimmy Rollins each popped out to the infield, ending the threat.
Down 4-2, the Phillies made some noise in the ninth. With one out and runners at the corners, Francisco Rodriguez struck out Chase Utley and Howard to end the game. Even though the Phillies have a 13.5 game lead over the Mets, this series isn't one to take lightly. As shown in K-Rod's game ending strikeout celebration, the Mets want to beat their arch rivals.