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]

Larry Bowa on Jim Bunning: His words 'resonated throughout my career'

Larry Bowa on Jim Bunning: His words 'resonated throughout my career'

Beyond the center field wall at Citizens Bank Park, retired Phillies uniform No. 14 was draped in black cloth on Saturday afternoon.
 
Jim Bunning, who wore that number during six seasons with the club, died late Friday night at his home in Kentucky. The Hall of Fame pitcher, who went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, was 85.
 
Bunning was a workhorse right-hander who pitched with smarts and competitiveness during his 17 seasons in the majors. He also pitched with the Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers. He averaged 35 starts and won 89 games during his six seasons with the Phillies. He also authored one of the most iconic moments in club history when he pitched the franchise's first perfect game on a searing hot Father's Day in 1964 against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
 
Talking about a perfect game as it is unfolding is considered baseball taboo. To mention it is to risk jinxing it. But Bunning broke tradition and in the late innings of that game talked openly with teammates in the dugout about the possibility of finishing off the feat.
 
"Jim Bunning was way too practical of a man to worry about a jinx," former teammate Rick Wise once said. Wise pitched the second game of that Father's Day doubleheader. It started 20 minutes after Bunning completed his perfecto and Wise had trouble finding a ball and a catcher to warm him up because everyone was busy celebrating the perfect game.
 
Bunning went 224-184 with a 3.27 ERA in 591 career games. He led the American League with 20 wins in 1957. He led the league in innings twice and strikeouts three times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1996 and went into Cooperstown as a Phillie.
 
Bunning had two tours with the Phillies, 1964-67 and 1970-71, and was a straight-laced competitor who expected effort and excellence from his teammates. During his second time through Philadelphia, as he was nearing the end of his career, he was a teammate of a young shortstop named Larry Bowa.
 
"I remember him coming up to me and saying, ‘Don’t ever, ever lose your energy. I don’t want to turn around and see your head dropping because you’re 0 for 3,’" Bowa recalled Saturday. "He said, ‘I don’t ever want to see that.’ He said, ‘You’ve got to be accountable. You’ve got to play with energy. You’ve got to play every inning of every game.
 
"I made an error one day and he turned around — I didn’t even want to make eye contact with him — he turned around and he was rubbing the ball and looked at me and I went, 'Yeah, I know I should have caught it.' He was just that intense."
 
Bunning had a mean streak on the mound. He led the league in hit batsman four times.
 
Bowa recalled the time Ron Hunt — a notorious plunkee — did not get out of the way of a Bunning breaking ball. As Hunt ran to first base, Bunning admonished him.
 
"He went over and said, 'Ron, if you want to get hit, I’ll hit you next time and it won’t be a breaking ball.' That’s what kind of competitor he was."
 
Bunning suffered a stroke last year.
 
"I knew he had been sick," Bowa said. "Tremendous, tremendous person who taught me a lot about the game in a short time.
 
"He always gave me good advice. He talked about self-evaluation with me all the time. He said you’ve got to be accountable in this game, no one gives you anything in this game. I never had a pitcher mentor me like he did. In spring training, he told me, ‘Keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open.’ It was that simple. I said, ‘Yes, sir.’
 
"When a guy like that takes the time with someone who is just starting, it’s, I mean, it resonated throughout my career."

MLB Notes: Tigers place 2B Ian Kinsler on 10-day disabled list

MLB Notes: Tigers place 2B Ian Kinsler on 10-day disabled list

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Tigers placed Ian Kinsler on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring ahead of their doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.

Outfielder JaCoby Jones was recalled from Triple A Toledo to fill the roster spot. He was scheduled to start the first game of the twin bill in center field.

Kinsler sat out five games because of the same injury this month. He has a .239 batting average, four home runs and 11 RBIs in 41 games this season.

Also, the Tigers acquired the contract of pitcher Arcenio Leon and Chad Bell was optioned to Toledo. Bell pitched 2 1/3 innings on Friday. Pitcher William Cuevas was designated for assignment.

Leon spent the 2016 season in the Mexican League before signing as minor league free agent last winter. He'd be making his major league debut.

Indians: Ace starter Corey Kluber expected to rejoin rotation next week
CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber, sidelined most of the month with a strained lower back, is expected to rejoin the Cleveland Indians rotation on Thursday against Oakland.

Cleveland's ace right-hander hasn't pitched since May 2 when he left his start against Detroit after three innings. He threw five scoreless innings for Double-A Akron on a minor league rehab assignment Friday.

Kluber is 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA in six starts. He pitched 249 1/3 innings last season, including 34 1/3 in the playoffs. Kluber also pitched on three days rest three times during the postseason, two coming against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

Kluber was 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA and two shutouts in the regular season and went 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six playoff starts. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2014 and was third in the voting last season.

Indians manager Terry Francona didn't say whose spot Kluber will take in the rotation.

Padres: OF Manuel Margot placed on 10-day DL with calf strain
WASHINGTON -- The San Diego Padres placed Manuel Margot on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right calf before Saturday's game against the Washington Nationals.

The centerfielder left Wednesday's game with calf soreness. He was in a walking boot ahead of Friday's series opener.

Second on the team in at-bats, the 22-year-old Margot is batting .259 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.

"He's just sore right now," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He'll take off four-to-five days and keep the workload really minimum. After that, see how he progresses."

Outfielder Franchy Cordero was called up from Triple-A El Paso for his major league debut. He is expected to start Sunday and receive much of the playing time in center field.