Hamels battles, but lifeless Phillies lose again

Hamels battles, but lifeless Phillies lose again

June 16, 2013, 9:15 pm
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DENVER -- Cole Hamels was ticked off at home plate umpire Marvin Hudson during the seventh inning Sunday. The left-hander was clearly steamed after he thought Hudson missed a pitch in a one-run game and he gave the umpire an earful as he left the mound moments after the Colorado Rockies had scored twice to turn the one-run game into a three-run game.

It’s always a big deal when Hamels gets fired up because there were times early in his career when he let his emotions get the best of him and his performance suffered.

But Sunday -- and last week in Minnesota -- it was actually heartening to see Hamels get a little worked up.

It shows he cares.

The rest of the Phillies?

That’s debatable.

Save for a microburst of energy after a misplayed ball in the ninth inning, the Phillies looked like a lifeless ballclub on a road to nowhere Sunday as they completed a torturous 10-game road trip with a 5-2 loss to the Rockies (see Instant Replay). The Phils lost series in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Colorado to finish the trip 3-7. They headed home after Sunday’s game lugging a 33-37 record and open a three-game series against division rival Washington on Monday night.

“We’ve got to go out tomorrow, play better, try to score some runs and hopefully get the same kind of pitching that we got today,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

Hamels allowed six hits and three runs over seven innings -- an impressive effort in a place like Coors Field -- but still became the first Phillies pitcher since Kyle Abbott in 1992 to suffer his 10th loss before the All-Star break. The Phillies have scored just 31 runs behind Hamels in 94 innings this season.

That 1992 team finished in last place in the NL East at 70-92. It’s difficult to see this team finishing last in the division that has baseball’s worst team, the Miami Marlins, but it’s also difficult to imagine this team making the playoffs, especially with the quality (or lack thereof) of baseball they are playing. On Sunday, the Phils were manhandled by right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who had entered the game with a 6.13 ERA in his previous eight starts. Chacin held the Phils to three singles in the first eight innings and came within a misplayed ball with two outs in the ninth of a shutout.

The Phils have scored two or fewer runs in 24 of 70 games.

Is this a playoff team?

“I’m not going to comment on that one,” Hamels said. “You can ask the other guys that one.”

Cliff Lee was recently asked that question and he offered an unconvincing: “I can’t look at it any other way besides I expect us to win and catch up with the Braves and get into the postseason. That’s the only way you can look at it.”

Jimmy Rollins was even less convincing after Saturday’s loss to the Rockies. He was asked if he believed the Phils would ever stop taking two steps back for every step forward.

“That will be answered at some point,” he said.

These two teams combined for 30 runs in the first two games of the series. On Sunday, Hamels and Chacin were stingy. Hamels allowed a solo homer to Wilin Rosario in the second as Colorado took a 1-0 lead. Chacin sailed through eight innings until the Phillies rallied for two runs in the ninth after rightfielder Michael Cuddyer misplayed a fly ball by Rollins that would have ended the game and given Chacin a shutout.

“It was a good pitchers’ battle,” Hamels said. “Ultimately he came out on top and here I am again.”

Chacin’s economy of pitches was exceptional. He threw just 86 pitches -- 69 strikes.

“He got ahead with a lot of first-pitch strikes then got us to chase balls out of the zone,” Manuel said.

That’s the way to pitch the Phillies, who are loaded with hitters that lack plate discipline.

The lack of run support that the Phils have given Hamels has become almost farcical. In this game, he felt like the umpire conspired against him, too.  He believed Hudson missed an 0-2 pitch against Cuddyer in the seventh. Cuddyer then blooped a double over first base. Earlier in the inning, Carlos Gonzalez reached on an infield hit. Both scored as the Rockies opened a 3-0 lead.

Hamels got hot in the inning.

“I would get frustrated, too,” Manuel said. “Why would you want to be an easy loser? Hey, he gets upset because he’s trying hard and he wants things to go his way.”

Nothing has gone Hamels’ way this season -- on a personal or team level.

“This year I don’t think we have the excuses we had last year,” he said. “We have to be accountable for what we’re doing, the way we’re playing, what’s going on. I’m not happy about it. The reason I want to be here is I want to win. I know I had a few bad games early on, but ultimately, I’m going out there to win, to go to the postseason, to go to the World Series. I know there are a few guys out here who have the same belief.”

But are there enough of them? After a miserable road trip and a lifeless exhibition on Sunday, you have to wonder.

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