Thru 4 1/2: Hamels perfect

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The way Cole Hamels mowed down the Nationals in the top of the first, you already were wondering if the Phillies ace might have something special in him tonight. Well, he’s now faced 15 Washington batters and retired every single one of them.

Yep, Hamels is working on a perfect game through five innings, and he’s making it look easy. Only two guys have legitimately hit the ball hard. Ian Desmond poked a line drive to the warning track in right field, but it was still a routine play for Jayson Werth. Ryan Zimmerman did absolutely smoke a line drive in the fourth, but third baseman Pedro Feliz made a nice leaping catch to rob Zim of extra bases.

As if the prospect of having a perfect game thrown against them wasn’t bad enough, the Nats also lost catcher Wil Nieves to a leg injury in the third inning. Nieves was running out a grounder back to the mound and came up lame after crossing first. He walked back to the dugout under his own power, but it took a long time for him to get there. So Josh Bard is now behind the plate, and there are no true backup catchers left on Washington’s roster. Josh Willingham has caught 16 games in his big league career, but none since 2006.

Lost in all that has been a pretty solid pitching performance from Ross Detwiler in his return to the rotation. The rookie lefty has tossed four scoreless innings, allowing only three singles so far. He struggled to get out of the first inning, needing 29 pitches and a big strikeout of Ryan Howard. But he’s rebounded nicely since then. It’ll be interesting to see how long Jim Riggleman lets him stay out there. The plan coming in was for Detwiler to probably only go five innings.

So there you have it. Still scoreless here in Philly, with Hamels halfway to making history.

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Mark Zuckerman

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