Cole Hamels Is the First Pitcher in the NL to 10 Losses This Season

Cole Hamels Is the First Pitcher in the NL to 10 Losses This Season

He hasn’t been as sharp in 2013 as we’ve come to expect, but Cole Hamels is pitching well enough to keep the Phillies in games. Sunday at Colorado was the 11th time in 15 starts this season where Hamels held the opponent to three earned runs or less. His line: three runs off of six hits through seven innings. That’s pretty good.

The Phils couldn’t muster any runs of their own until the ninth inning though, and by then the bullpen already came along and did their job, which apparently is to make things worse. The Rockies outlasted the Fightins by a final of 5-2, pushing Hamels’ record to 2-10, and the team’s record in his starts to 2-13. That’s very bad.

10 losses leads the National League – by two in fact – and ties him with Joe Blanton for most in the Majors. Hamels is on pace to become to the first 20-game loser in all of baseball since Mike Maroth for Detroit in 2003, and first in the NL since Phil Niekro for Atlanta in 1979.

Sad as it is to say, this is not altogether unfamiliar territory in the clubhouse, as Cliff Lee went through similar difficulties last year when it took him until July to secure his first win. Hamels has dealt with the lack of offense before as well. As recently as 2011, the Phillies produced three runs or less in 20 of his 31 starts – he still managed to go 14-9.

Maybe the two of them could form a support group for starting pitchers who deserve better support groups. Hamels tried talking it out with reporters after the game.

“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.”

It’s probably unlikely Hamels will actually get to 20 losses, because he’s simply too good. Admittedly he has not looked like the player the franchise signed to a $144-million extension last summer, but his luck has to turn around eventually. The team’s luck, on the other hand, is another matter entirely.

Hamels reaching double digits in losses is only part of the backdrop to an even more depressing story in which the Phils just completed a 10-game road trip where they went 3-7, including a five game losing streak. They are now 8.5 back of the Braves for first place in the NL East – as far behind as they’ve been all season – and an equal number out of a wild card.

Today is June 17. The trade deadline is on July 31. It’s no secret what kind of decisions will be facing the front office if the Fightins don’t make some progress in either one of those races soon.

When the team comes home from a road trip 3-7, and the winning percentage in games pitched by the staff ace falls to .133, even optimists find it increasingly difficult to figure out a way that's going to be possible.

>> Hamels battles, but lifeless Phillies lose again [CSN]

Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny stick around as Flyers send 10 to Phantoms

Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny stick around as Flyers send 10 to Phantoms

Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny are still alive.

The Flyers reduced their roster to 39 players on Thursday, assigning 10 players to the Phantoms for their separate training camp, which opens on Friday in Lehigh Valley.

There were no major surprises among today’s cuts.

Goaltenders Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon, both of whom were outstanding during exhibition play, report to the Phantoms as the No. 1 and No. 2 candidates in net.

Stolarz had a 1.36 goals against average and .944 save percentage in 88 minutes of game action. Lyon had a 0.67 GAA and .972 save percentage in 90 minutes of playing time.

Together, they teamed up for the 2-0 victory on Wednesday against the Devils (see 10 observations).

Also assigned were defenseman Robert Hagg and Reece Wilcox, plus forwards Radel Fazleev, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Tyrell Goulbourne, Corban Knight, Danick Martel and Mark Zengerle.

After four games in three nights, the entire camp roster had a complete off-day on Thursday.

Sanheim and Provorov have stood out on defense with the latter virtually certain to make the team.

Konecny was very impressive in exhibition play on Wednesday (see story), and will be given a long leash in camp because of the competition at forward.

Both he and Provorov are just 19 and can only go back to junior if they don’t make the final cut with the Flyers.

Schultz injury
Wednesday’s announcement that veteran defenseman Nick Schultz would miss 4-7 days with a lower body injury — a minor MCL sprain of the knee, according to sources — means extra opportunity for several younger defensemen.

Remember, Radko Gudas still is not 100 percent, but getting close to it with his right wrist (fracture). The two benefactors here could be Sanheim and Sam Morin. Provorov was going to be around until the very end, anyway.

The Flyers have four preseason games remaining. Schultz is expected to return for at least one of the final two games.

Inside Golf
The weekly 30-minute segment will feature the Flyers Celebrity Golf Tournament and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation when it airs on CSN on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 10 a.m.

Harry Donahue visited Trump National Golf Course in Pine Hill, NJ earlier this month to catch up with the Flyers. Others on hand are Mark Messier and ESYHF President Scott Tharp, plus Snider Hockey Chairman of the Board Bill Whitmore to learn about Snider Hockey.

The event raised over $1.6 million. You can catch the broadcast on CSN on Oct. 3 and Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. It will also air on TCN on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 3 at 5 p.m.

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers' abundance of big men lends itself to numerous combinations in the frontcourt.

On Thursday, Nerlens Noel had his first experience playing with Ben Simmons. The center gelled with the rookie forward.

"It's a great duo, I think," Noel said following the morning practice session of training camp at Stockton University.

Noel has been paired with many big men during his career with the Sixers. Last season, he faced the challenge of playing out of position at times with Jahlil Okafor. The logjam prompted him to speak out about the current makeup of the roster (see story).

After playing with Simmons, Noel saw how the two can share the court.

"I think we complement each other very well, especially on the defensive end," Noel said. "He's definitely a lockdown type defender that digs in."

Even though Simmons has yet to play an NBA game, Noel already envisions how he can help the Sixers.

"He just plays basketball the right way," Noel said. "When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."