PHILADELPHIA - While Cole Hamels’ actual outing against the Nationals back on May 6 might have gotten overlooked because of the Bryce Harper plunking, the Phillies lefty dominated Nats’ hitters that day, allowing just one run and five hits over eight innings.
Hamels has continued that dominance tonight.
The Nats have yet to record a hit off Hamels through five innings, and they’ve been set down on strikes five times. Hamels has walked three Nats, but the scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park still reads all zeros across next to the Nationals’ logo.
Hamels is at 76 pitches through five frames.
Harper gave the Nats a legitimate scoring chance in the fourth, walking leading off the inning, moving to second on a flyout to center and then scampering to third on another flyball to Shane Victorino in center.
All that hustle went for naught, however, as Ian Desmond popped up to end the inning.
Edwin Jackson has battled through five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks.
A lot has been hit hard off Jackson tonight, who has lacked the stuff he showed his last time out, when he allowed just one run and struck out eight over eight incredibly strong innings against the Orioles.
It’s 2-0 Phillies here as we go to the sixth.
Update: Danny Espinosa ended Hamels’ no-hit bid with one out in the sixth, doubling down the left field line.
Harper and Ryan Zimmerman then followed with singles. But the Nats failed to score a run.
Espinosa was thrown out at the plate by Phillies right fielder Hunter Pence on Harper’s single to right, on what was an interesting decision by third base coach Bo Porter. If Porter had held Espinosa at third, the Nats would have had runners at the corners and one out with Zimmerman at the plate.
Instead, Espinosa was gunned at home, and Zimmerman’s single merely moved Harper to second. That’s a missed opportunity against a pitcher who has been on his game tonight.
It’s a tough call for Porter; on one hand, the Nats haven’t gotten anything going against Hamels and Zimmerman has been scuffling lately. Pence also has a terrible arm, and needed to make a great throw (which he did) to get Espinosa, who has some speed. On the other hand, Zimmerman is the Nats’ three-hole hitter, and typically, you want to give your best hitters chances to drive in runs.
Yet another reason why I wouldn’t want to be a major league third base coach.