Cole Hamels had no-hit stuff Monday. He just didn't have the pitch count to go with it.
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Despite holding the Braves hitless through six innings, Hamels was plagued by inefficiency -- the left-hander walked five and used 108 pitches to get through six innings. On a day when temperatures reached the 90s in humid Atlanta, Hamels wasn't going to pull an Edwin Jackson in search of immortality.
"I understood around the sixth inning it was going to be a short game," Hamels said. "I wasn't really too worried about it."
But the 30-year-old was still part of history as one of four pitchers to combine to no-hit the Braves in the Phillies 7-0 win. Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon followed Hamels with clean innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth, and when Phil Gosselin lined out to first base for the 27th out, Phillies teammates celebrated around catcher Carlos Ruiz.
The no-hitter was the fourth this season, and the first combined no-hitter since the Mariners used six pitchers to complete the feat in 2012. It was the first Phillies no-hitter since Roy Halladay's domination of the Reds in the NLDS in 2010.
The no-hitter is the story, but it also serves to give some due to the year Hamels is having. After missing the first three weeks of the season with a shoulder issue, Hamels is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career through 24 starts. The southpaw owns a 2.59 ERA, a mark that would be the lowest of his nine-year career, and his fielding-independent pitching (FIP) mark of 3.04 -- and that was before Monday's six shutout innings -- would also rank as his best.
That brilliance will largely go unnoticed and underutilized with the Phillies dwelling at the bottom of the National League East. But even in a forgettable year for the Phillies, Hamels said Monday's performance was one to remember.
"This is a really good moment to cherish," Hamels said. "We're with each other seven or eight months a year. I know how difficult it is to go out there, throw nine innings, keep a pitch count within reason. And knowing that you're playing a competitive team that's fighting for a playoff spot, you know they aren't going to take it lightly. I think to be a part of something so special with these three guys and the whole team, there's no better way to sum it up.
"It sums up the fight all year, even though it hasn't gone the way we wanted."
September means call-ups, and call-ups means top prospects getting their first look in the show.
Joc Pederson, Maikel Franco, Daniel Norris and Cory Spangenberg were among the youngsters promoted on Monday, and more are likely to come as minor league teams are eliminated from postseason play in the coming weeks.
Pederson is the biggest name of the minor leaguers promoted. The 22-year-old outfielder holds a ton of promise after batting .303/.435/.582 with 33 home runs and 30 stolen bases this season with Triple-A Albuquerque. Pederson's potential is such that the Dodgers flinched at including him in any blockbuster trades at July's non-waiver trade deadline.
But even though he's held in high regard within the organization -- and outside the organization, for that matter -- the outfield-rich Dodgers won't force Pederson into the lineup in the midst of a playoff push, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
"We can use him to steal a base, we can use him to pinch-hit, we can actually play him all over, we can use him in different ways," Mattingly said. "I think people in our organization who have seen him the most feel like Joc's the best center fielder in our organization. That being said, he's also a guy with no experience at the big league level at this point. And we'll try to use him and hopefully he'll gain some experience in this last month."
Pederson played that role Monday, making his major league debut as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. Representing the winning run, Pederson struck out against Nationals closer Rafael Soriano to end the game.
Franco, 22, didn't post the same gaudy numbers at Triple-A this year, hitting 16 homers with a .257/.298/.427 line, but he was rated by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect coming into the season. Franco's power is real, and he could see time at both first and third base when a left-hander is on the mound.
Both top prospects have value in daily leagues when they're in the lineup, and both are long-term keepers for dynasty purposes.
Bo Let Go
Bo Porter became the first managerial casualty of the 2014 season Monday.
The Astros manager, who was hired before the 2013 season, was let go, with Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow saying he felt the clubhouse needed a new direction.
"At the end of the day, it came down to me feeling like at this point going forward, a different leader in the clubhouse was in the best interest of the Astros," Luhnow said.
Porter didn't have a ton of success at the helm of the Astros, nor was he expected to. But the team had taken some strides this season, with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Chris Carter, among others, emerging as solid pieces for a winning club.
The Astros will begin their search for a new manager immediately. With George Springer, Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, along with the team's current core, representing the future, the Astros hope their next manager is the one to lead them back to the postseason.
National League Quick Hits: The Marlins took a potentially huge hit to their playoff hopes Monday, as Henderson Alvarez left his start with a strained left oblique. Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Alvarez will be handled cautiously, saying, “As much as we need him to pitch, we’re not going to let him go out there and jeopardize himself.” This may be the end of the line for the 24-year-old in 2014 ... Michael Morse tweaked his left hip during batting practice Monday and sat out as a precaution. He will have an MRI on the hip on Tuesday, but it's not expected to sideline him for too long, if at all ... Matt Holliday continued his assault on National League pitching, going 2-for-4 with three RBI, including a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning. Holliday has 12 RBI in his last three games, giving him 81 RBI overall ... Kolten Wong contributed in that game as well, hitting a game-tying two-run home run as a pinch-hitter. The homer came a day after Wong was forced to leave Sunday's game after hitting his head on the ground. Wong appears to have escaped without harm ... Ending the notes on a high one, Daniel Hudson was activated from the 60-day disabled list by the Diamondbacks on Monday. The 27-year-old last pitched in the majors on June 26, 2012, before undergoing two Tommy John surgeries over the next two years. Hudson returns as a reliever.
American League Quick Hits: The Royals activated Eric Hosmer from the 15-day disabled list Monday. The first baseman missed a month with a stress fracture in his right hand. Hosmer went 1-for-4 with a stolen base in his return to the Royals' lineup ... Adam Dunn, who was traded from the White Sox to the Athletics on Sunday, homered in his first at-bat with the A's. Batting cleanup, Dunn went 2-for-3 with the two-run shot ... The two-run homer was enough support for Jason Hammel, who threw eight innings while allowing a lone run in Monday's win ... Miguel Cabrera had a huge Labor Day, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, three RBI and four runs scored. With Monday's outburst, Miggy has "just" 19 home runs on the year ... Another name of note recalled Monday, although not making his major league debut, was Taijuan Walker. The 22-year-old threw six innings in relief of starter Chris Young, who was shelled from the outset, allowing one run while striking out five. It's unclear whether that strong showing will change his status with the team, but he's talented enough to be a streaming option against lesser opponents if he's given the chance to start.