Just when it appeared the Philadelphia Phillies were getting healthy for the stretch run, they have suffered a major setback.
A strained elbow not only will prevent Hamels from starting this game, but he expects to miss at least one more start and go on the disabled list. The left-hander is tied for the NL lead with 14 victories, and leads Philadelphia with a 3.50 ERA, 156 strikeouts and 167 1-3 innings.
“To have something pop up like this, I guess that’s what happens,” Hamels said. “I know it’s not serious. Two starts is a lot better than the rest of the year.”
Though Hamels is 3-0 in his last five starts, he started feeling discomfort two days before his last outing and felt “unusual” soreness after beating Washington on Thursday. Philadelphia already has starters Freddy Garcia, Jon Lieber and Adam Eaton on the disabled list, and Eaton is likely the only one that will pitch again this season.
Offensively, though, the news was much better on the injury front for the Phillies.
Chase Utley took some practice cuts before Tuesday’s game for the first time since breaking his right hand nearly a month ago.
“My hands were a little weaker than it was prior to the injury, but it wasn’t that bad,” said Utley, batting .336 with 17 homers and 82 RBIs.
The All-Star second baseman hopes to return for next week’s series against the NL East-leading New York Mets, whom Philadelphia trails by five games.
Right fielder Shane Victorino could be back in this contest after having no problems in two minor league rehab games this week. Victorino, among the NL leaders with 32 steals, has been sidelined three weeks with a strained calf.
Backup outfielder Michael Bourn (ankle) might return in two-to-three weeks, Mike Zagurski (hamstring) is likely out for the year and fellow reliever Ryan Madson (shoulder) could return for the final week of the season.
“It’s been a very freak season,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
In place of Hamels, J.D. Durbin (5-2, 5.36 ERA) gets his start moved up a day.
The rookie right-hander has made five spot starts due to the numerous injuries to the rotation, going 4-1 with a 4.11 ERA. He’s won the last four, including his last appearance as he gave up three runs—two earned—and four hits in six innings of an 11-8 win at Pittsburgh on Friday.
His first major league victory came in his only career appearance against the Dodgers, yielding a run in six innings of a 15-3 win on July 17.
Another pitcher who was not expected to be part of the Phillies rotation lifted them to a win in the opener of this three-game set on Tuesday, with Kyle Kendrick going 6 2-3 innings in a 5-4 victory.
It was the 13th win in 17 home games for Philadelphia, which is looking to win its sixth straight series at Citizens Bank Park.
A lack of offensive help has plagued Derek Lowe (9-11, 3.45) for much of this season. He takes the mound for the Dodgers having received more than one run of support just three times in his last 10 starts.
One of those times came in his most recent outing, but Lowe won for the first time since June 22. He held Houston scoreless in seven innings on Thursday as he allowed five hits and did not walk a batter in a 6-2 victory. Lowe had been 0-5 with a 4.93 ERA in his previous eight outings.
“That’s a long time not to win,” said Lowe, who has walked one batter in his last 23 innings. “You’ve got to go out there and believe you can win.”
This start comes on five days’ rest for Lowe, and he’s gone 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA in four such appearances this year. Since joining the Dodgers in 2005, he is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts against the Phillies.