Hammel shows he can handle Coors in Cubs win
Righty scatters 8 hits, walks none in first matchup with former team
DENVER -- Jason Hammel was a little miffed when Cubs manager Joe Maddon pulled him from the game but it wasn't because of his pitch count or how the right-hander was doing on the mound. Hammel wanted another at-bat.
"He was disappointed I was taking him out because he had an opportunity to have his most at-bats in a game ever," Maddon said. "More than him being taken out of the game, that's what hurt him, that cut a little bit deeper. I'll have to be aware of that."
Hammel had quite the night Saturday in the Cubs' 9-5 victory over the Rockies.. He had two singles to go with his six innings in which he did not walk a batter, struck out six and scattered eight hits.
He knows better than most about how quickly a game can change at Coors Field. Hammel pitched for the Rockies from 2009-11, and this was his first career start against his former team.
"Being here for the few years I was here, you learn, just hang in there, keep it close, keep battling," Hammel said. "The game can turn so fast. They answered real quick with two in the seventh and make a game of it. It's always an interesting game here."
What helped was Miguel Montero's ability to convince Hammel to do what the catcher wanted.
"I like a catcher who, when he wants you to throw a certain pitch, he's really emphatic about it, like, 'This is what you want to throw,' even if you shake [him off]," Hammel said. "He wouldn't take 'no.' On the slider in the first inning to [Troy Tulowitzki] and the heater to [Nick] Hundley on the last pitch of the game, it's like, 'Do this.'"
Montero was right. Hammel struck out both batters.
Back to hitting. Hammel admits he's not comfortable at the plate, at least not during games.
"I like hitting at 6 o'clock, or 5 o'clock, or whenever batting practice is," Hammel said. "When it comes to the games, I don't like facing myself. I'm not comfortable doing that. If I know it's a fastball, I'll hit it. That's what [batting practice] is. When you start throwing sliders and changeups and sinkers and hitting it off my shin, [that's different]."
He also needs to work on his baserunning. Hammel scored from second on Dexter Fowler's triple in the second, although Arismendy Alcantara, who was on first, nearly lapped the pitcher.
"No more running the bags for me," Hammel said.