Earlier this year, I picked Cole Hamels to win the NL Cy Young Award. I also picked the Phillies to win 91 games.
While I would like everyone to know I also made some really brilliant calls (Josh Hamilton‘s struggles, Boston’s success, Justin Upton and Mike Trout as MVPs, etc.), I cannot escape the Hamels prediction, especially in light of the crappiness he continues to display each time he takes the mound.
Last night, Hamels was once again underwhelming in the Phils’ 7-5, 13-inning win over the Padres in San Diego. He pitched six innings, gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts. His ERA now sits a 4.58 for the season.
After 17 starts, I think it’s fair to say that Cole has arrived at that number on his own merit.
Hamels has had his share of tough luck this year, and in many of his starts, the offense has abandoned him. Of late, however, Hamels’ struggles have largely been of his own doing. Last night, he gave up five extra-base hits, including four doubles and a two-run homer to Chris Denorfia.
When you’re lugging around a 4.58 ERA, you can only blame others for so much.
Luckily for Cole, the offense actually bailed him out of his 12th loss of the season last night, thanks to a game-tying, two-run homer from, of all people, Delmon Young. Had Hamels fallen to 2-12 last night, he would have been the first pitcher in Phillies history to lose 12 games before July 1.
One would have thought Petco Park would have been the perfect place for Hamels to cure whatever is ailing him. In 13 career starts in his hometown of San Diego, Hamels had been 8-2 with a 2.15 ERA. But even his home wasn’t enough to keep the 2013 demons away.
“Ugh,” Hamels said. “Another poor performance. It’s not the situation you want to be in. It’s a continuation of not being able to do what I intend to do. But luckily enough, the team picked me up and it doesn’t show in the standings. I just have to go out and battle away again.” – quote per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki
What’s most distressing is that no one can seem to pinpoint exactly what Hamels’ problem is. He doesn’t appear hurt. His velocity is fine, and his pitches are still doing what they normally do. He’s just missing his spots, and teams are pounding him when he does.
Amazingly, the worst bullpen in the National League bailed Hamels out last night. Recently called-up J.C. Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont, Jake Diekman, Joe Savery and Jonathan Papelbon combined for seven shutout innings, with Papelbon recording his 15th save of the season and Savery getting the win.
The Phils’ two runs in the 13th were gift-wrapped by the Padres, a gift the Phils were perfectly happy to accept. With runners on first and second, Ben Revere battled through an eight-pitch at bat and hit a grounder to second that was booted by Forsythe, allowing Chase Utley to score from second. His wild throw home then allowed Domonic Brown to score all the way from first.
If this team has had any luck this year, it’s been bad luck. So a little generosity from the baseball gods was most welcome last night.
After the game, Charlie Manuel said he noticed a little extra fight in his ballclub, something we used to see on a nightly basis during the 2008-2009 seasons.
“You’d be surprised what you can do when you really want to play,” Manuel said. “That’s what it’s all about. I’ve always said that takes you a long way. It might not take you to the Promised Land but you can play a lot better and you can have a lot more fun when you win games.” – quote per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury
With the win, the Phils took their series against the Padres and now move onto Los Angeles for four games with the Dodgers before finishing up with three against the red-hot Pirates in Pittsburgh. They are 38-41, seven games out in both the NL East and the NL Wild Card.
Now all they have to do is figure out what the hell is wrong with Cole Hamels.
Where It All Went Right
When Delmon Young, the bane of my existence, actually did something meaningful, hitting a two-out, two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game at 5. Before the game, Manuel noted that it was time for Delmon to start producing. Knowing Ruben Amaro, last night’s homer probably earned Delmon a two-year contract extension.
The bullpen. Somehow, someway, either through mirrors or magic, the combination of Ramirez, Aumont, Diekman, Savery and Papelbon managed to keep San Diego off the board until the Phils scored two in the 13th. Too bad it all happened so late on the east coast virtually no one was awake to see it.
Hamels, who blew another early lead and continues to look completely lost on the mound. His struggles truly are mystifying. And the Phillies ain’t goin’ nowhere unless he figures out what his problem is.