LOOKING AT Cole Hamels' pitching statistics for daytime starts, you might expect him to have a pair of fangs, or a long, ratlike tail, or pupils the size of saucers. But he is not a vampire or possum or other creature of the night.
"I've had good games during the day," he said.
But roughly two seasons into his major league career, the disparity between his daytime and nighttime numbers is noticeable.
In 42 night games, Hamels is 22-11 with a 2.96 ERA. In 20 day games, he is 7-5 with a 5.25 ERA.
Opponents are hitting just .214 against him at night. During the day, that average sits at .278.
So what gives?
Well, according to Hamels and his pitching coach, nothing.
While certain hurlers admit their distaste for pitching during the day - the Reds' Bronson Arroyo, who is 14-24 in day games and 45-39 at night, is one of them - Hamels said it doesn't make a difference what time a game begins.
"I think they are just numbers," he said. "I don't think any of that - sunlight or sleeping, or any of that - I don't think it has anything to do with it."
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee has seen certain pitchers who are legitimately better at night than day. But he doesn't necessarily think Hamels is one of them.
"He's still got a pretty good routine about it," Dubee said. "He's still here early, he's still prepared and doing all the things he does. It's just for whatever reason he hasn't pitched as well."
Hamels' four-inning outing in the Phillies' 15-6 win over Houston on Sunday marked just the sixth time in his career that he had lasted fewer than five innings. Four of those outings have come in day games, including an 11-2 loss to the Cubs in 2006 in which he allowed nine runs (five earned) in two innings.
Then again, two of those abbreviated daytime appearances occurred because of lengthy rain delays that forced Hamels out of the game. So it isn't really fair to use them as examples of him pitching poorly in the afternoon.
There is a chance Hamels' numbers are simply a matter of chance, and that as he builds his big-league resume, the disparity between the two will dissipate. Keep in mind that he has yet to finish his second full major league season. A pitcher like Arroyo, on the other hand, has been in the big leagues for nine seasons and has a larger body of work to analyze.
So if, 5 years from now, his ERA is still more than two runs higher during the day?
"Then maybe I'll have a philosophy," Hamels said.
Last night's game at Citizens Bank Park featured performances by a military brass band and a fighter-jet flyover. But those who have had friends or relatives serve overseas usually don't need a holiday to remember the troops. Phillies closer Brad Lidge is one of them. His best friend, Brian Mack, is currently serving in England with the Air Force, and his brother-in-law, Matt Littrel, served two tours in Iraq with the Marines.
"It's a good day to celebrate and to remember what our soldiers have done for a long time now to make our country what it is," said Lidge, an admitted history buff who enters games to a song titled "Soldiers" by Drowning Pool.
Geoff Jenkins is hitting .343 in his last 22 games, but Charlie Manuel nevertheless decided to give So Taguchi a rare start in rightfield last night. The manager said his decision had less to do with Jenkins' .143 average against lefties and more to do with the desire to get the struggling Taguchi some at-bats. Taguchi, who entered last night 8-for-49 (.163), had had just eight plate appearances since May 8.
"He needs to play some," Manuel said. "He's got 48 or 49 at-bats. Sometimes when I send him out there to pinch-hit, the biggest thing about him is he needs playing time. Righthanders especially are a little bit ahead of him. If we are going to expect him to do anything offensively, he's got to get some at-bats."
The move paid dividends early: Taguchi had a double in the fourth inning that drove in Chris Coste. It was just his third RBI and his first since April 22.