The Empire Strikes Back


6. 10. 43. Final. 2

The New York Yankees franchise has at times been referred to by opposing media outlets as the “Evil Empire”, referencing “Star Wars” villanous entity, due to the sheer size of their organization and bankroll, and their historic dominance within the game of baseball.

Over the previous two nights, the Phillies had invaded like the hungry, underrated rebel force of those famous films, handed the Yanks their hats in a pair of dominating victories at Yankee Stadium. Today, the Empire struck back.

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The Yankees dismantled the Phils by a score of 10-2 in a Wednesday afternoon matinée, salvaging one victory from the three game series. For the hosts, it was a combination of strong pitching by their starter Ivan Nova, a poor performance from Phils ace Cole Hamels, and a diverse offensive attack that saw 5 different players record multiple hits.

For Hamels, this was a showcase game. The club is aggressively trying to market him in trade talks for a multi-prospect package, and for the most part, Hamels has looked every bit the attractive ace to opposing scouts. However, he was way off on this day, perhaps having something to do with residual effects of a hamstring issue that caused him to skip his last scheduled start.

Hamels (5-6) allowed 5 earned runs on 8 hits in just 5 innings, striking out and walking 3 batters. It was the 4th time that the lefty has allowed at least 5 earned among his 15 starts, the 2nd in his last 3 outings. As far as any trade talks go, he’s picking a bad time to go through a struggling stretch.

On the other side of things, Nova (1-0) was making his first start since April 19th of last season. Following a miserable outing on that date against the Toronto Blue Jays, Nova was shut down with elbow soreness. It turned out that he required Tommy John surgery, and so he has gone through that laborious recovery and rehab process.

Nova shut the Phils out on 3 hits and 2 walks over 6.2 innings. He did struggle some with command, only striking out one batter and throwing just 51 strikes in his 92 pitches. But something he was doing confounded Phils hitters, or maybe they were just tired out from all the swinging and base running the previous two nights.

The Yanks jumped on top with a pair of nickel-and-dime runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning. A ground single, a walk, a bunt single, and two run-scoring fielder’s choice ground outs brought home the two runs off Hamels.

In the 4th, the Yanks struck with a bit more authority. Didi Gregorius led off by legging out a double to left field, and Jose Pirela followed with a walk. Brett Gardner then singled to center, scoring Gregorius. He was followed by Chase Headley, whose double to left scored Pirela. One out later, Mark Teixeira lined an RBI single to right, and it was 5-0.

In the bottom of the 6th, Jake Diekman replace Hamels on the mound. Headley and Alex Rodriguez led off with singles, Headley scoring on a 2-out base hit from Chris Young to make it a 6-0 game.

In the bottom of the 7th, Justin De Fratus replaced Diekman and the wheels fell off as the Yanks scored 4 times. De Fratus killed himself by walking three during the inning, but the Yanks also got to him for three hits in ballooning their lead out to 10-0.

In the top of the 9th, the Phillies finally got on the board. Ryan Howard led off with a double, Domonic Brown followed by driving him in with a single, and then Brown scored after going to 3rd on a double by Andres Blanco, and coming home on an RBI grounder by Cody Asche.

So the Yankees pick up a big win which, combined with a loss by Tampa Bay earlier in the afternoon, pulled New York back within a game of the AL East lead.

The Phillies modest 3-game win streak ends as they drop to 26-48, still the worst record in the game. After a day off on Thursday, the Phils will be back home for a weekend meeting with the Washington Nationals.