The Phillies’ rich pitching legacy—from Grover Cleveland Alexander to Robin Roberts to Steve Carlton—includes Hall of Famers and Cy Young winners. But heading into tonight’s NLCS Game 5, Cole Hamels could make history by doing something no pitcher in the Phillies’ 126 years has accomplished: win three straight postseason games.
The Phillies couldn’t wish for a better starter heading into their potentially series-clinching game. Hamels has been exceptional in his three postseason starts—two this season and a loss to Colorado in 2007.
He has not allowed more than three earned runs or six hits in any outing, has reached the seventh inning and at least 100 pitches, and has a glittering 2.08 ERA. He's even hitting .333 (2 for 6) with a run scored.
When the games matter most, Hamels has been at his best.
“Going out there in the big game, you want to be that guy that can dictate it,” Hamels said. “And I think if you have the mind-set and the talent to do so, then you should be able to go out there and have success. That's something I have the confidence that I can go out there and do.”
Hamels’ success has come without the benefit of much run support. In his three postseason starts, the Phillies have scored a total of eight runs (2 against Colorado, 3 each against the Brewers and Dodgers).
Carlton, who started a Phillies-record 13 playoff games, came closest to winning three straight starts. He took Game 3 of the 1978 NLCS and Game 1 of the 1980 NLCS before registering a no-decision in Game 4 of the ’80 NLCS.
He then won two straight in the ’80 World Series against the Royals, including the deciding Game 6, before losing Game 1 of the ’81 Division Series against Montreal.
Roberts and Alexander each pitched just two postseason games for the Phillies. Curt Schilling started four, going 3-1, but he suffered a loss in Game 1 of the 1993 World Series before winning Game 5. John Denny, the 1983 Cy Young Award winner went 1-2 in the ’83 postseason.
“I know I have the talent to do it,” Hamels said. “It's just a matter of time and getting the opportunity to do it. I've had the opportunity this year, and I've been able to not only come through but hopefully put us into more situations where I can do it again, and again, and again."