Hamels Strong After Disappointing Opener


The epitaph on Winston Churchill’s tombstone reads: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Carved into the gravestone of famous British comedian Spike Milligan are the words: “I told you I was ill.” I can’t help but think Cole Hamels last 3 seasons as a Phillie have determined his elegy: “He pitched well enough to win.”

In the Phillies extra inning, 3-2 win over the visiting Washington Nationals, Cole Hamels pitched admirably. Yet, once again, Hamels did not figure in the decision.

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Since 2013, in starts lasting at least 7 innings and yielding no more than 2 earned runs Cole Hamels has won 12 games. He did not win 19 of them. His career ERA of 3.28 has resulted in an average of only 12 wins per season.

One could argue such an accomplished competitor with numbers such as these would be less than enthusiastic to take the mound. Not Hamels. He consistently takes the hill intending to win. This determination has kept the Phillies close in many games. Saturday evening was no different.

Hamels tossed 104 pitches over 7 strong innings. A first inning, one-out single to Yunel Escobar, and a fourth-inning home run to Wilson Ramos accounted for the only 2 hits Hamels would yield. He struck out 5, punching out Nats’ leadoff hitter Michael Taylor 3 times, and cleanup hitter Ryan Zimmerman twice, while holding Bryce Harper hitless.

Special color analyst Mike Schmidt chuckled when asking Tom McCarthy and Ben Davis, “did our guy just walk their pitcher?” Indeed, Cole did walk opposing pitcher Doug Fister on 4 pitches to lead off the visitors 3rd. It was one of only two free passes issued by Hamels, and it did not come back to haunt him, as he set down the final three hitters in order.

The Phillies have yet to score with Hamels on the hill in his first 2 starts. What was it Yogi Berra once said? “Deja vu all over again.” Cole Hamels was strong again, and remains the subject of much trade speculation. That will continue until it happens, or until the season ends. For now, he’ll try again for his first win this week, again facing the Nationals.