At least the tough season for the Philadelphia Phillies now has a historic highlight — Cole Hamels and three Phillies relief pitchers combined to no-hit the Atlanta Braves in a 7-0 win Monday, the first combined no hitter since the Seattle Mariners threw one in 2012.
It's the first combined no-hitter in Phillies history, their 12th overall and their first no-hitter since 2010, when Roy Halladay threw two. This makes four no-hitters this season in MLB. Josh Beckett, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum tossed the others.
Cole Hamels started things off for the Phillies on Labor Day, and his start was a bit laborsome despite not giving up any hits to the Braves' batters. He struck out seven, but walked five and threw 108 pitches.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg turned the game over to his bullpen when Hamels' spot in the batting order came up in the seventh inning. The Phillies had just a 2-0 lead at that point. Pinch hitter Grady Sizemore drew a walk, then Ben Revere followed with a three-run triple. That part of Sandberg's plan worked, but the no-hitter? That would take three more pitchers.
Jake Diekman pitched a hitless seventh, striking out two. The rookie Ken Giles struck out the side of Braves in the eighth, including Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. Phillies pitchers struck out 12 batters total.
In the ninth, now holding a 7-0 lead, the Phillies gave the ball to closer Jonathan Papelbon, who isn't a stranger to meltdowns. Papelbon, however, made quick work of the Braves, getting three outs on nine pitches. Jimmy Rollins assisted with a nice place on a grounder up the middle for out No. 26, then first baseman Darin Ruf snared a liner off the bat of Phil Gosselin to end the game.
Controversy and disappointment have surrounded the Phillies this season, even with Hamels, their ace. He and Sandberg had tension last week. Hamels was upset after being pulled from his previous start after just 84 pitches.
Even though he didn't get the full no-hitter himself Monday, it's hard to imagine Hamels being too upset this time around. And the Phillies will at least start the last month of the season with their heads held high.
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