It came down to command, or a lack thereof, for Cole Hamels. It was obviously early that he was struggling to locate his pitches, particularly his cutter and curveball. That's not a good thing against a Braves team that is built to destroy fastballs. It also isn't a huge surprise. Hamels has had some rocky season openers over the years, and it is not hard to think about why that might be. After seven weeks pitching in 70 degree daytime weather, the transition to nightime and 50's is a drastic change that can affect everything from a pitcher's arm to his grip. Charlie Manuel theorized that Hamels' grip may have been the problem given the number of curveballs and curveballs he grounded. Going from spring training to the regular season means going from a second shift job to a third shift job, and that can take some time for your body to adjust. Point is, a good pitcher did not pitch well, and that happens sometimes. Thing is, the Phillies are going to struggle to win whenever that happens, which was the gist of what I wrote about in today's Daily News. If you were concerned by what you saw last night, you probably haven't been paying attention, because we did not see much that was new.
Here's the rest of this morning's coverage from the Phillies' season-opening 7-5 loss. . .
-Cole Hamels struggled to locate his pitches against a Braves team that prompts visions of some of the sluggers of franchise lore, Ryan Lawrence writes. Hamels looked great in Grapefruit League play. But again, the changeover from spring training to the regular season can be a shock to the system.
-The new combination of Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins worked like it was supposed to in the fifth inning. Revere, who has never been known for working counts, battled Tim Hudson for 11 pitches before drawing a walk. Rollins then singled to right field to load the bases for Chase Utley, who delivered a two-run single that cut the Phillies deficit to one run. Rollins is taking his new job as No. 2 hitter in stride. Also in today's Phillies notebook are items about Ender Inciarte and Dom Brown. I'm curious to see what role Inciarte has on this team. Asked yesterday who his No. 2 left-handed bat off the bench is, Manuel said Freddy Galvis (Inciarte is left-handed). Bottom line is there isn't much power beyond Laynce Nix.
-Phil Sheridan notes that the time for expectations is spring, and the time for action began last night. And however you want to spin it, the Phillies are 0-1, while the Nationals, Braves and even the Mets are 1-0.
-The biggest positive to come from last night's game is that Chase Utley not only appeared in the lineup, but he came a double short of the cycle, stretched a double into a triple, took an extra base on a single, and launched a home run over the 400-foot wall in dead center. If you could guarantee me that the Phillies would get production like that out of the No. 3 hole for the entire season, it would have a marked affect on my expectations for this team. Bob Brookover examines Utley's night.
The enter National League East is off. Madison Bumgarner and the Giants square off against Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers on MLB Network at 10:10 p.m. I'm curious to see L.A.'s new Korean import. The other good NL game is Cardinals-Diamondbacks with Trevor Cahill facing Jaime Garcia. We're back in action tomorrow with Roy Halladay against Paul Maholm.