Cole Hamels shuts out Reds as Phillies complete sweep

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Yes, Game 2 was in their hands and they lost it, but with the results from Games 1 and 3, it doesn’t seem like the Reds ever really had a chance to win this series.
The Phillies got their second dominant pitching performance in three games, this one from Cole Hamels, in beating Cincinnati 2-0 on Sunday night and completing an NLDS sweep.
Hamels went the distance in this one, something he never did while putting together his dominant five-start run in the 2008 postseason. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel eschewed closer Brad Lidge in the ninth, even after Brandon Phillips singled to lead off the inning, and Hamels was able to finish it up in 119 pitches. He allowed five hits, walked none and struck out nine.
A two-out double from Ramon Hernandez in the seventh was the Reds’ lone extra-base hit. Once again, regular-season stars Joey Votto and Scott Rolen failed to get anything going. As the tying run, Votto grounded into a double play in the ninth to finish the series 1-for-10. Rolen was 1-for-11. Jonny Gomes, who didn’t play in Game 2, went 0-for-7 with three strikeouts.
The only Reds hitters to produce in the series were Phillips (4-for-12, 1 HR) and Jay Bruce (2-for-8, 1 HR, 2 BB).
With the easy victory, the Phillies will be well set up to take on either the Giants or Braves in a series starting next weekend. They’ll even have the option of setting up Roy Halladay to start Games 1, 4 and 7 if they’d like.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.