Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Cole Hamels unhittable at home of late
(San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies play the second game of their three-game series, Wednesday at 7 ET on ESPN.)
Last year, the Giants celebrated a trip to the World Series with a win in Game 6 of the NLCS at Citizens Bank Ballpark. With the two of the three best records in the Senior Circuit this year, these two teams are on a collision course to meet again in the league championship series.
The Phillies entered this series, which they started with a 7-2 win Tuesday, on a roll. They have won their last nine series and haven’t lost consecutive games since a four-game slide May 31-June 4. Even better, they have lost back-to-back home games just once this season, on April 18-19 against the Brewers.
The Giants have the second-best record in the National League behind the Phillies, and arguably have been the most resilient team in baseball. Their 18 wins in their last at-bat are tied for the most in the major leagues, and they also have an MLB-best 29 comeback wins.
On the Mound
Cole Hamels takes the mound for the Phillies looking for his NL-best 13th win. He's allowed three runs or fewer in 12 of his last 13 starts, during which he has a 2.25 ERA. Much of his success this season has been a result of his nearly unhittable changeup.
Hamels has held batters to a .133 average in at-bats ending with his changeup, fourth-best among NL starters. He’s gotten an MLB-best 145 swings-and-misses on the pitch, and 57 strikeouts, the most in the NL. In his last start, the Padres went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts against the pitch.
Tim Lincecum, whose start was pushed back a day because of the flu, has made three career regular-season road starts against the Phillies. Despite a 3.66 ERA, the Giants have lost all three of those starts.
Lincecum has allowed just one home run in his last eight starts, including none in his last three road starts.
Opponents are hitting .212 against Lincecum curveballs in 2011 compared to .362 last season. The biggest difference is that he’s getting more swings and misses. His miss percentage is 31.7 percent on curves this year. Last year it was 20.9 percent.
Lincecum has had control problems this season, which are related mostly to his changeup. More than 60 percent (61.4) of his changeups have been thrown for strikes in 2011, way down from 70.8 percent in 2010.
Matchup to Watch
Cody Ross, the NLCS MVP last year, looks to continue his success at the plate when facing Hamels. Ross has nine hits in his last 22 at-bats against the southpaw, including four home runs. Ross is the only player to hit four long balls against Hamels.
Stat of the Game
The Giants lead the majors with a 27-13 record in one-run games. They are on pace for 42 one-run wins. That would tie the major-league record for one-run victories, set by the 1978 Giants.