Cole Hamels chose not to discuss his performance after the 4-3 loss in 11 innings to the Mets on Sunday. But then again, who could blame him?
Hamels, of course, pitched well again, using 125 pitches over seven innings to hold the Mets to a pair of runs with just one earned (see Instant Replay). But it must get tiring for Hamels to discuss himself over and over again. After all, when Hamels pitches there isn’t much to talk about other than the way he pitched.
It’s not like the Phillies have given much support behind him.
The Phillies are 1-7 in games started by Hamels and have scored just 20 runs in those seven losses. Given that Hamels has a 2.57 ERA and pitched at least seven innings in his last five starts, he hasn’t had a chance.
Again, what could Hamels say?
“He gives us the opportunity, no question about it,” manager Ryne Sandberg said about Hamels. “We came up short on the offensive side for him. He pitched well enough to win today.”
Talking about Sunday’s loss would have only gotten Hamels in trouble. After all, how diplomatic could anyone be after watching the Phils stumble around out there for the third extra-inning game in a row? Not only did the Phillies commit two errors in the field — a third was ruled a fielder’s choice — but the team didn’t show much savvy on the base paths, either.
With only three hits after Ryan Howard’s two-run homer in the fourth inning to Marlon Byrd’s solo shot with one out in the 11th, baserunners were nothing to take for granted. However, the Phillies again wasted a great chance to score in the seventh inning because of some baserunning blunders.
After Cesar Hernandez led off the seventh with a bunt single and was sacrificed to second by Reid Brignac, pinch-hitter Dom Brown laced a 1-2 pitch into left for a single. Because the hit stayed in the air too long, Hernandez got a late break off second and was held at third base. The problem was all Brown saw was a throw from left field going to the plate. That led him to surmise that there was going to be a play at the plate and he ought to keep going to second base.
“I just saw the throw going over his head,” Brown explained. “I think I made the right read, only thing is I should have stayed in the run down a little bit longer, see what can happen. Maybe a bad throw, or Cesar may score on that. I think that was pretty much it.”
The throw to second got Brown by approximately 10 yards.
So instead of first and third with one out, the Phillies had a runner on third with two outs. Instead of a win, Hamels was out with another no-decision and instead of a chance to win the five-game series against the Mets on Monday night, the Phillies remained entrenched in last place in the NL East.
“That's a frustrating part of it,” Sandberg said. “Close games, extra-inning games, often times you can look back at a play here or there just to get the job done. That's frustrating.”
Equally frustrating was the Phillies didn’t sniff at getting another baserunner after Brown was thrown out. Five Mets pitchers combined to retire 11 straight batters and 13 of the last 14.
The Phillies’ bullpen in relief of Hamels was equally as good, allowing a hit in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings until new arrival Phillippe Aumont took the mound in the 11th. After retiring the first two hitters on seven pitches, Aumont walked Travis d’Arnaud on five pitches before serving up a two-run homer to first baseman Lucas Duda.
All it takes is a mistake. In Friday’s 14-inning game the Phillies cashed in on an error by Mets outfielder Chris Young. Then Saturday’s 14-inning loss was underscored by a pair of missed sacrifice bunts by Ben Revere (see story).
Sunday? The blunders reared up again. It’s something to ponder, too, since Sandberg has enthusiastically embraced the idea of fundamental baseball with plenty of extra infield and batting practice for his team.
What if Sandberg had not been pushing fundamentals?
“Well, we'll continue to go out there and correct,” Sandberg said. “There is a game every day and a game to clean it up and play a solid game. That's what it's going to take.”
The series continues on Monday night when Roberto Hernandez (2-2, 3.76) takes on veteran righty Bartolo Colon (4-5, 4.73).