Last night's 6-4 loss to the Cubs might have been the worst loss of the season:
1. It was the first game of a four-game series against a team that is terribly difficult to beat at home. The Cubs are 50-19 at Wrigley Field this season, the best home record in baseball. Getting a split at Wrigley would be considered a success this weekend, and the Phillies were six outs away from putting themselves in great position to do that.
2. The Phillies scored four runs in six innings against Cubs righthander Ryan Dempster, which is no small feat considering Dempster has been one of the best pitchers in the National League this season and one of the best pitchers in baseball since the all-star break.
3. Cole Hamels pitched beautifully through seven innings, allowing only a run and five hits in seven innings.
4. It only gets tougher from here. The Phillies have to try to beat Cubs righthander Rich Harden this afternoon. He also has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since the break.
Should Hamels have started the eighth? Last night Manuel said Hamels was "absolutely spent." Hamels left the clubhouse without comment, which led most to believe that he wanted to pitch the eighth. After all, he threw 108 pitches. He appeared to be in control.
So why pull him?
Hamels said he was done.
"Once you get to 105, 110 pitches, you're pushing the envelope, especially this late in the season," he said this morning at Wrigley Field. "Obviously, I'm leading the league in innings. My body definitely has taken a toll. If I was maybe around the 98 to 104 mark, I possibily could have gone out. But just after that last inning -- that was a 20-pitch inning, I believe -- it took a toll. I knew with my space coming up in the order, I'm 0 for 2, it's not like I'm really doing anything special. I trust the bullpen 100 percent. That's why we have the best bullpen in the National League with the best ERA. Unfortuantely, sometimes it doesn't happen. You can't put any blame on that. It's just kind of the circumstances."
So, again, physically he felt like he shouldn't have pitched the eighth?
"No," he said. "Physically, no. I don't think it would have benefited, just with that last tough inning in the seventh. I guess your energy the way it is, I know I have to put in quality inning after quality inning. If I know I'm not fresh enough to do that, why put myself in a (position) not to benefit the team and also have to look at it from the standpoint that I have another start in five days?"
Said Dubee: "He said he had enough, so what can you do? I'm not going to send a guy out there that says he's done. He said he was pretty spent. ... He was the third hitter (in the eighth). If there were two outs and nobody on, he would have gone out there. But again, he had seven quality innings and he had enough. He had enough."
In the Phillies Notebook: J.C. Romero said he wanted to pitch in the eighth inning in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Mets.
Got confirmation from a Phillies source: the Phillies have acquired Matt Stairs from the Blue Jays for a minor leaguer. That mystery man could be announced after the game, and Stairs could be in town this weekend.