Phillies: Cole Hamels struggles in Braves debut vs. Orioles

Starting pitcher Cole Hamels #32 of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Starting pitcher Cole Hamels #32 of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Former Phillies southpaw ace Cole Hamels has made his Braves debut

For the first time since his July 2015 no-hitter — his final appearance in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform — left-hander Cole Hamels has made a start for a National League East team.

Triceps tendinitis and a shoulder issue prevented Hamels from debuting with the Atlanta Braves, but the 14-year veteran finally took the mound for his new team in a Wednesday evening road interleague battle opposite the Baltimore Orioles; it was his first start in nearly a full calendar year (September 28, 2019).

Hamels struggled and did not even make it out of the fourth inning in his long-awaited team debut — yielding one single, two doubles, three runs, and one walk spanning 3 1/3 innings, 52 pitches, and 34 strikes.

Hamels’ early exit was more so related to meeting the Braves’ 50-to-55 pitch count limit set before the game. Nonetheless, Hamels exited with the Braves down 3-0 and went on to receive the losing decision in their 5-1 defeat — his 122nd career loss through 422 starts.

Of the 2008 World Series Most Valuable Player’s 14 batters faced on Wednesday, Hamels tossed a first-pitch strike to nine; he induced seven swinging strikes, four ground balls, and four fly balls.

Hamels, 36, needed 22 pitches to get through the first two innings, as well as 23 more to get through the third. The Orioles’ three runs scored opposite the left-hander all came in the third via an RBI double, RBI groundout, and sacrifice fly RBI.

Not only did Hamels debut as a Braves player, but he also debuted a new number for the first time in his MLB career. After wearing No. 35 for the Phillies (2006-15), Texas Rangers (2015-18), and Chicago Cubs (2018-19), Hamels sported No. 32 on Wednesday. The Braves have No. 35 retired in honor of Hall of Fame RHP Phil Niekro.

Hamels signed to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves, this past offseason after posting a 3.81 ERA and 143-to-56 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning 141 2/3 innings and 27 starts last season with the Chicago Cubs. He will once again enter free agency in the coming weeks following the 2020 season and the Braves’ likely postseason stint.

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