Hamels: Rangers' future looks very bright
TORONTO -- Cole Hamels' run as the clinch-master came to an end, along with the Texas Rangers' season, on Wednesday in a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, but Hamels wasn't in the mood to lament.
The veteran left-hander already was entertaining the thought of a loaded Rangers team descending on Surprise, Ariz., in the spring and getting ready for another run at the World Series in 2016. That was the thought of many around baseball when Texas acquired the 2008 Fall Classic MVP from Philadelphia in July, but over the ensuing two months, the timetable was accelerated.
"We've got some exceptional talent, great young rookies and some good veteran leadership," Hamels said, "so I think being able to look forward to next year, having [injured pitcher Yu Darvish] back, we'll have a full, healthy [Adrian Beltre] back, what's there not to like?
"I think that's something that we're really excited about. To have guys that are healthy that are huge parts of this team and big parts in baseball, it's going to be fun to partner up with them and see what we can do next year."
Going into the winner-take-all Game 5, Texas had won in Hamels' previous 11 outings, including Game 2 of the ALDS. While Game 5 marked Hamels' first career start in a winner-take-all game and while facing potential elimination, he had made four starts in a potential clinch game for his team, all with the Phillies, and Philadelphia had won all four.
Not even that could hold up in a bizarre game for the ages that featured a 53-minute seventh inning that Hamels started and did not finish, and included the following:
• A Rangers run scoring from third base when Toronto catcher Russell Martin's throw back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez hit batter Shin-Soo Choo's hand and rebounded onto the field of play.
• Several delays as passionate fans disrupted play by throwing debris onto the field.
• Three consecutive errors by Rangers infielders that loaded the bases.
• A monstrous Jose Bautista three-run home run off Rangers reliever Sam Dyson that ended up winning the game for Toronto.
• A few near-dust-ups between the two clubs.
• A loss for Hamels.
Hamels has been around the sport long enough to have seen just about everything. He was able to digest it all and still emerge with a positive outlook for what the Rangers -- who finished in last place in the AL West in 2014, rebounded to win the division this year, and gave the Blue Jays a hard-fought ALDS to remember -- are building.
Hamels ended up going 6 1/3 innings and giving up five runs (two earned) on four hits while striking out eight and walking two on Wednesday, and he said he was ready to get after it again soon.
"I think I could pitch tomorrow," Hamels said. "I wish there was a Game 6."