It’s not a sample size large enough to be considered worrisome, but it has to be somewhat alarming.
Through two games, Phillies ace Cole Hamels has surrendered 16 hits and 13 earned runs.
The Braves pummeled Hamels for seven hits and five earned runs on Opening Day. This time, the Royals torched him for nine hits and eight earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 9-8 victory Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning but fell short, dropping them to 2-4 with the Mets arriving Monday for a three-game series. Getting off to a slow start is nothing new for Hamels or the Phillies, but when you reward Hamels with a $144 million extension, you expect better results than 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA.
“I feel good,” Hamels said. “I definitely have a good feel with all my pitches. It’s not showing and obviously the end result is we’re not winning ballgames.”
Hamels lost at home for the first time since July 7, 2012. He had been 3-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his previous seven starts here. Thus far in 2013, Hamels has allowed five or more earned runs in back-to-back starts for the first time since April 10-17, 2009. He didn’t mince words or make excuses.
“It’s a fact you have to get ahead of hitters,” Hamels said. “And you have to get them out and obviously, I wasn’t able to do that.”
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel intimated that Hamels struggled with his command.
That was evident, especially to Royals first baseman Billy Butler. Butler ripped a grand slam in the fifth inning and set a career-high with seven RBIs.
“It’s unfortunate because grand slams put your teams behind no matter how many runs you have,” Hamels said. “A grand slam, four runs, is a definite momentum changer.”
Hamels set career highs with 17 wins and 216 strikeouts last season. He was selected to his third All-Star team. For now, the goal is to get one strong start and string it together from there. After all, that’s what is expected of your ace.
“It’s the same approach I always have,” Hamels said. “Get my work in and execute my pitches for the team I have to face in the next game.”