<
>

Saturday's Top 5: Hamels' Phillies run ends on a high note

1. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies: There are so many ways that Hamels’ no-hitter was awesome. As David Schoenfield points out, it ties for the best Phillies start ever, putting Hamels in the company of Roy Halladay and Steve Carlton. For Jayson Stark, it’s a reminder that sports is the ultimate reality TV. Heck, John Jackson was there, and he notes that even Hamels recognized it as something special, so take that, you stack of well-worn Bull Durham clichés.

But my takeaway? Sure, it might have been nicer for Phillies fans to see him deliver this at home before potentially departing via trade in the week to come, but failing that, where better than Wrigley Field on a gorgeous Chicago afternoon?

As for the Cubs, already ranking just 11th in the league in runs scored while harboring hopes they’ll get in gear for the stretch run, they had put up a 12-6 record against opposing lefties before this game. Now they might reasonably wonder if their offense will ever sync up, let alone be able to take down top southpaws down the stretch. What better solution than to trade for the guy?

2. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: Three homers in Target Field? I mean, sure, Tommy Milone is fairly vincible, but for a man at his age -- let alone somebody written off by many before the season -- that’s a huge day against major league pitching in a park that’s fairly neutral for right-handed power. Rock on, A-Rod; this might be the best heel-to-face turn since Stone Cold Steve Austin.

3. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals: Speaking of people pegged for a second-half fade, Martinez threw eight complete shutout innings against the Braves for the first time in his big-league career to beat the reliably luckless Shelby Miller in a 1-0 duel. The game’s clock might be measured in innings, but it’s better to remember he needed just 93 pitches to deliver his eight frames. He may still be under 24 years old, but the Cardinals may be reaping the benefit of carefully managing his workload in past seasons.

The other cool thing from this game was seeing Randy Choate, somebody else who will be 40 before this season is over, log his first save since 2012. That was happy circumstance, facing a pair of lefty batters sure not to get lifted in Nick Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski, and inducing the game-ending double play after giving up the single to Markakis.

4. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds: Hamels gets the headlines for what he did with the trade deadline nearing, but Cueto did himself a big favor as well, throwing eight shutout innings at Coors Field to beat the Rockies in what might be his last start with his team. He didn’t face a Sunday lineup doing it, either, as the Rockies had Tulo, CarGo and Arenado all contributing to Cueto’s eight-pack of zeroes.

5. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants: MadBum didn’t just beat the A’s 2-1, he added Chris Bassitt to his list of victims -- a list that includes Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke -- while hitting his ninth career homer and seventh at AT&T Park.

Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.