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Cole Hamels outduels Steve Carlton as 2008 Phillies beat 1980 Phillies in Game 1

Cole Hamels outduels Steve Carlton as 2008 Phillies beat 1980 Phillies in Game 1

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Cole Hamels carried the Phillies throughout the 2008 postseason and he did it again in Game 1 of our Spring Classic, the virtual matchup between the Phillies' World Series championship teams of 2008 and 1980.

Hamels, the real-life MVP in the 2008 National League Championship Series and World Series, led the '08 team to a 4-2 victory with a huge performance on the mound and at the plate at Citizens Bank Park.

On the mound, Hamels outdueled 1980 NL Cy Young winner Steve Carlton in a battle of the two greatest left-handers in franchise history. Hamels pitched eight innings of four-hit ball while Carlton countered with seven innings of five-hit ball on a day when he battled command issues.

At the plate, Hamels doubled twice. Both of the doubles came against Carlton and the first one preceded the game's biggest hit.

The series is being played via Strat-O-Matic computer simulation, based on actual player statistics from the 1980 and 2008 seasons.

During the 2008 season, Hamels hit .224 (17 for 76) with just two doubles.

But, in the batter's box, the numbers came up right for him in this game.

He led off the bottom of the third inning with a double against Carlton. Two batters later, Chase Utley connected for a two-out, two-run homer against Carlton to give the '08 team a 3-2 lead that it would never relinquish.

It was interesting that Carlton struggled to put Hamels and Utley away in the computer simulation. Both are left-handed hitters and Carlton was death on lefties during the 1980 season. They hit a minuscule .183 with just four doubles and one homer against him during the regular season. Carlton allowed just 15 homers in 304 innings over the length of the regular season.

Something tells us Carlton might pitch with a little chip on his shoulder later in this series. That slider might have a little more bite.

While Hamels was economical with his pitches in Game 1 — he walked just one and struck out six on 104 pitches in his eight innings of work — Carlton was not. The Hall of Famer threw 132 pitches (pitch counts were not a thing in 1980) and struck out eight, but he walked five over his seven-inning stay.

One of Carlton's walks proved very costly. The '80 team had taken a 1-0 lead on a solo homer by Mike Schmidt in the top of the first inning. The '08 team tied the game in the bottom of the second. Pat Burrell walked, moved up on a groundout and a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Pedro Feliz.

Utley teamed with Hamels to give the '08 club the lead in the third. In the fifth, the '08 club padded its lead as Hamels led off with a double and scored on a base hit by Jimmy Rollins.

The '08 team had just five hits, but they were timely.

Schmidt, the real-life NL MVP in 1980, had two of his team's four hits and both were for extra bases.

The game was played briskly in two hours, 27 minutes. That was a testament to the starting pitching. In the real-life postseason of 2008, Hamels, then 24, made five starts and allowed just seven earned runs for a 1.80 ERA. Though 35 in 1980, Carlton won a league-high 24 games and posted a 2.34 ERA over 38 starts.

Brad Lidge got the final three outs, no big surprise as he went 48 for 48 in save chances during that storybook 2008 season.

The loss put the '80 team in an uncomfortable spot heading into Game 2. Manager Dallas Green would be sending a rookie, Bob Walk, to the mound for that game while his counterpart, Charlie Manuel, was set to go with Brett Myers.

Will the '80 team's bats come alive?

Or will the '08 team's pitching dominance continue?

Come back for Game 2 on Thursday. We're just getting started. 

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Get ready for a showdown between Phillies' World Champs from 1980 and 2008

Get ready for a showdown between Phillies' World Champs from 1980 and 2008

These fingers have typed more than a few World Series previews over the years, but never one quite like this.

Are you ready for Phillies 1980 vs. Phillies 2008?

The local nine has been at this thing called baseball for 137 seasons and in that time has stood atop the sport twice. 

Now, we know that's not exactly a stellar percentage, but for practical purposes during these unprecedented times, the Phils are perfect for a one-time showdown to crown the champion of champions. 

And, thanks to our friends at Strat-O-Matic, this is exactly what we'll have for you over the next week or so as we continue to look for ways to feed our sports cravings during the shutdown caused by the coronavirus health crisis.

Starting Wednesday, which seems right because it's the day baseball tips its cap to the great Jackie Robinson, we will begin a series between the Phillies' 1980 World Series championship team and the Phillies' 2008 World Series championship team. John Garcia of Strat-O-Matic has graciously agreed to run a computer simulation of the series, using exact statistics from the two seasons, and we can't wait to chronicle the daily results and see how it unfolds. Either way, there will be a parade in Philadelphia. Just make sure it's in your living room, six feet away from others.

Use your imagination and think about how cool this series will be.

It will feature two of the most popular and colorful managers in team history, Dallas Green and Charlie Manuel.

It will feature the best first baseman (Ryan Howard), second baseman (Chase Utley), third baseman (Mike Schmidt) and shortstop (Jimmy Rollins) in franchise history.

It will feature four league MVPs in Schmidt, Rollins, Howard and Pete Rose. Schmidt won the first of his three NL MVP awards in 1980. He led the NL in homers (48) and RBIs (121) that year. Howard, the NL MVP in 2006, finished second in the voting in 2008 while leading the league in homers (48) and RBIs (146).

The series will feature the two greatest left-handed pitchers in franchise history in four-time Cy Young winner Steve Carlton and 2008 postseason hero Cole Hamels. 

It will feature switch-hitters with big personalities and great defensive skills (Larry Bowa and Shane Victorino), another switch-hitter whose bat produced more knocks that anyone in the history of the game (Rose), bullpen aces (Tug McGraw and Brad Lidge), pinch-hitting stars (Del Unser and Matt Stairs), a couple of role players who emerged as studs (Bake McBride and Jayson Werth) and it will be played at two venues, Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park.

Though the teams shared the ultimate similarity — a World Series title — there were differences. The 1980 team was on its last legs. The core of that team had stumbled in the playoffs in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and management was primed to break it up if it didn't get over the hump in 1980. Conversely, the 2008 team was still early in a run that saw the franchise win five NL East titles from 2007 to 2011. 

Both teams won the NL East in close races with charges down the stretch, the 1980 Phillies by a game over Montreal, the 2008 Phillies by three over the New York Mets.

The 2008 Phillies went 92-70 so they get home-field advantage in this Spring Classic against the 1980 Phillies, who went 91-71.

So, who you got?

"That depends on who's pitching," Bowa, a key man on the 1980 team, said in real time. "I've got no idea. There's a lot of good players there."

He paused.

"I'm definitely not picking them," he added with a laugh. "I think it will be a really good series."

And how 'bout you, Charlie Manuel?

"I've actually had this conversation with Bowa, who would win a series between the two teams," the 2008 skipper said in real time. "The '80 team had some great players, established players, and we had some young stars who were coming into their own. That was a hell of team in 1980, but at the same time, I've got to give my guys the edge. 

"I'll be interested to see how it turns out. And you better not put any losses on me, man."

Strat-O-Matic has been a favorite of baseball fans since it was born in 1961. It uses real-life statistics and probabilities to project outcomes and it's a heck of a lot of fun.

So without further ado, let's play this thing. We'll post the results daily.

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