Southpaws Gone Fishin’
The top of the Phillies lineup went 1-for-14. One for fourteen.
Aside from Jayson Werth, the Phillies offense couldn’t figure out Andy Pettitte after the second inning, as he kept the Fightins’ left-handed hitters silent and collectively 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts. Cole Hamels, meanwhile, failed to get back on the post-season success wagon as he failed to leave the fifth inning.
Cole Hamels was victimized by himself once again. He poorly located his curve balls, as not one curve ball was thrown below the knees of a Yankees hitter, four were in the strike zone, and two went for Yankees hits: a double by Nick Swisher and a single by Pettitte.
The bullpen wasn’t much help as every Phillies reliever except Ryan Madson gave up a run. The Yankees’ bullpen threw three scoreless innings in relief of Pettitte, who won his 17th career post-season game, adding to his all-time record.
Manager Joe Girardi was mindful of platoon match-ups: Chase Utley and Matt Stairs were the only Phillies lefty hitters to face right-handed pitching, and they only got one plate appearance each at that. This is a far cry from the way Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre chose to approach the middle of the Phillies’ lineup in previous post-season series.
Have a look at how each pitcher chose to attack the strike zone:
Very rarely did Pettitte throw to the left side of the plate (from the hitter’s perspective) with anything other than sliders. His fastballs were mostly on the right side and, unlike Hamels, was able to keep his fastball low and mostly out of the strike zone.
In the regular season, lefties hit for a .730 OPS against him and right-handers .717. As mentioned, the lefties were silent; right-hander Jayson Werth hit two solo home runs, Pedro Feliz doubled, and Jimmy Rollins (batting right) singled.
Hamels was all over the place with his fastball and used his curve ball very ineffectively. That he only threw four pitches below the knees is troubling — it is not a great way to approach the Yankees’ lineup.
This is a comparison of the pitch selection for the two starters:
Hamels stuck to his 60/30/10 distribution of fastball, change-up, and curve. Pettitte seemed to go back to the plan of attack from Game 3 of the ALCS with a reliance on sliders and used his cut fastball a lot more than usual.
I implore Phillies fans not to give up on Cole Hamels. Do not go Donovan McNabb on the kid. Cole Hamels is fine. Be patient.
Game graph above courtesy FanGraphs.