Hamels brushes off concern about subpar start
PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Hamels has been saying all the right things since he told USA Today in February that he wants to win and "I know it's not going to happen here."
Hamels could have made an unspoken statement about his future Monday afternoon, if he had dominated the Red Sox on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park. He has been linked to the Red Sox since the offseason because the Phillies are rebuilding and covet Boston's top prospects, although the Red Sox have shown no inclination to give the Phillies what they want.
But Hamels struggled in the 8-0 loss. He allowed five hits, four runs, three walks and four home runs with six strikeouts in five innings. It was just the second time in his career he had allowed four home runs in a game.
The only other time came April 23, 2010, in Arizona.
Is there any reason to be concerned?
Of course not. Hamels is a slow starter. He fell to 1-7 with a 5.13 ERA (30 earned runs in 52 2/3 innings) in 10 career games to begin a season.
"I think it's just kind of the way that's gone," Hamels said of his early-season struggles. "Sometimes that's the situation, but it's nothing that I'm trying to go out and purposely do."
Hamels allowed a solo home run to Dustin Pedroia in the first inning and a solo home run to Mookie Betts in the third inning. Ironically, Betts is one of Boston's players Philadelphia has coveted most, although there is probably no chance the Sox will part with Betts at this point.
Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez each hit solo homers in the fifth inning to hand Boston a 4-0 lead.
Pedroia and Betts hit fastballs for their homers. Ramirez sent a 0-1 changeup deep.
"Cole didn't get away with any high fastballs," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "His command was not sharp at all."
So Hamels will head back to the ballpark Wednesday in preparation for his next start Saturday night against the Nationals. He knows one game does not make a season. But the Phillies are expected to struggle this season, and the days Hamels pitches are expected to be the days with their best chances to win. Hamels said he feels no pressure in that.
"No matter if we're veterans, young guys or have a couple years in the league, it takes a team to win a ballgame and it takes a team to lose a ballgame," Hamels said. "I just want to be accountable for what I do and today didn't go the way I planned it. I wasn't able to make the right pitches at the right time."