PHILADELPHIA -- Some of the talk regarding Monday's 13-0 blowout of the Mets should focus on the first-inning unraveling of a uncharacteristically wild, and later injured, Pedro Martinez. Such discussion topics are founded. The Phillies came out early and pounded the veteran for six first-inning runs, then added seven more off ineffective reliever Darren Oliver. "Huge," Shane Victorino said. "[Martinez] is dominant, and doesn't have too many bad games. To come out and nail the coffin like that, they didn't expect us to score six right off the bat."More
The bulk of the next-day chatter among Phillies fans who witnessed it should focus on the continued emergence of the kid they've been hearing about for years. And so went the mismatch between the likely Hall of Famer Martinez and the rookie Cole Hamels finding his footing, with the rookie taking the prize. One run would have been more than enough for Hamels, who tossed a career-high eight shutout innings. He allowing four hits -- as many as Martinez allowed in the first inning -- and recorded nine strikeouts. He threw 86 of his 114 pitches for strikes, first-pitch strikes to 22 of 28 hitters and went to a three-ball count on just three batters. "That's what you're supposed to do in that situation," said David Wright, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Hamels. "He pounded the zone, and we didn't have it offensively today." The first inning foretold of an eerie night when Hamels was facing Carlos Delgado with two outs in the first inning. During a 13-pitch at-bat, Delgado twice lost control of his bat while fouling off what would've been a third strike. The first time, the lumber rocketed toward Hamels, who leapt over it, but got hit in the right shin. "Just another bump in the leg," he said, laughing. "That's what happens when you're all bone. He apologized. He just wanted to know if I was all right. I was like, 'Yeah, no problem.'" The second time Delgado flailed, the bat sailed out to second baseman Chase Utley. "The second time, I was like, 'Come on,'" Hamels said. "I know I'm throwing some good pitches here and I know you're a great hitter, but just miss it. I've always admired his approach. He's a tough hitter, but just strike out." Close enough. Delgado flew to right, the first time the ball traveled further than the bat, and Hamels walked to the dugout laughing. The Phillies used their bats for good in the bottom of the first. Jimmy Rollins singled and stole second. Utley's one-out single scored Rollins, and Utley moved up on an errant pickoff attempt by Martinez. Ryan Howard singled and David Dellucci walked, loading the bases. Martinez hit Aaron Rowand for the inning's second run, the balked in the third. In a bizarre coincidence, Martinez had balked in a run once previously in his career, 11 years earlier to the day, also in Philadelphia. Chris Coste was hit by a pitch to reload the bases, allowing Abraham Nunez the opportunity to provide the big blow. He drove in all three runs with a double to center that got by Carlos Beltran. "Whenever you have a chance to beat a guy like that, it feels good," Nunez said. "We were able to get to him early." The outing the second shortest of Martinez's career, and the longest of Hamels' short tenure. After a nine-start stretch in which he compiled 6.67 ERA, the lefty has compiled a 1.59 ERA in his previous four outings. He credits an improved curveball to his recent success. "To be able to go out there in the first inning and throw as many as I did for strikes help set up the game," Hamels said. The stretch has lowered his ERA from 5.98 to 4.50. "I struggled, but now I'm playing my own game," Hamels said. "I was more embarrassed than anything, especially when the fans in the outfield are yelling, 'You have a bad ERA, go back to the Minors.' What am I going to do in the Minors about my ERA? I just had to get my own comfort level up here." Hamels also downplayed any added significance that came with facing Martinez. Instead, he brought it down to one-on-one proportions. "I knew I could strike him out," Hamels said. "I also wanted to get a hit off him. That would be more impressive. He got me though."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less