Hamels on Phillies not making playoffs: 'It sucks'

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Hamels on Phillies not making playoffs: 'It sucks'

BOX SCORE

MIAMI -- For the second straight year, Cole Hamels threw his last pitch of the season in front of a small crowd in Miami, far, far away from the excitement of baseball’s postseason.

“It sucks,” Hamels said late Wednesday night, after pitching six innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins (see Instant Replay). “It’s two years in a row. You train all offseason to go to October and win, so it’s unfortunate.”

Hamels begins his offseason training Thursday. There are four games left in Atlanta and he will be a spectator.

It was an interesting year for the 29-year-old lefty, who signed the richest contract in Philadelphia sports history -- six years, $144 million -- in July 2012. He allowed 13 runs in 10 2/3 innings in his first two starts of the season. In his remaining 31 starts, he recorded an ERA of 3.22.

For the season, Hamels went 8-14 with a 3.60 ERA. He matched a career-high with 33 starts and pitched 220 innings, the second-highest total of his career. He struck out 202 and walked 50.

“I’m pretty proud of myself that I stayed healthy and made all of my starts,” Hamels said. “I know I got bumped back a few days in the middle of the season, but I went out there and gave it all I had.”

Pitching coach Rich Dubee gave Hamels a few extra days between starts before the All-Star break because the lefty was showing signs of frustration. Hamels was pitching well, but the wins weren’t coming, mostly because the team had trouble scoring runs.

Hamels pitched well after the All-Star break, recording a 2.97 ERA in 13 starts.

“I think a breath of fresh air helped immensely,” Dubee said. “It’s like an everyday player. You’ll see a good, sharp manager see a guy pressing and get the guy a couple of days away from competition. I just wanted to give him a chance to clear his mind.

“He had a tough-luck year. The numbers are deceiving. The baseball gods weren’t always with him.”

Hamels grudgingly conceded that Dubee’s methods had merit.

“Um, sure, I guess it worked,” he said. “I understood what they were doing. I just wasn’t staying within myself, staying within the rhythm of the game. I was getting carried away with certain things you shouldn’t allow yourself to be affected by. Understanding what you can control and what you can’t control, that is ultimately the big learning lesson this season.”

As good as Hamels pitched in the second half, he still made mistakes.

One of them came in the second inning Wednesday night when he threw an 0-2 cutter to Adeiny Hechavarria, who clubbed it deep to center for a two-run triple. Hamels said he threw a cutter because he thought he could get a ground ball and a double play, but he didn’t get the pitch inside enough to Hechavarria. It was one of two 0-2 pitches that the Marlins turned into big hits. Placido Polanco singled on a 0-2 pitch against Ethan Martin in the eighth. It helped set up the go-ahead run, which scored on an infield chopper to shortstop.

Manager Ryne Sandberg noticed the two 0-2 pitches.

“Those were too good of pitches,” Sandberg said. “They came back to haunt us.”

One or two pitches can haunt when a team is not scoring runs. The Phils scored just four runs in losing two of three to the 100-loss Marlins, who won a series at home for the first time since July.

The Phils had just one extra-base hit -- a Darin Ruf double -- in the game. That came in the seventh inning when Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez drove in runs to tie the game at 2-2.

“This series, we definitely had trouble scoring runs,” Sandberg said. “And I’ve been told there’s a little bit of a history of that. We had 10 hits, but we have a power shortage right now of extra-base hits and home runs.”

The Phils have not homered in seven games.

Phillies-Braves 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff approaches 200-inning mark

Phillies-Braves 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff approaches 200-inning mark

Phillies (70-86) at Braves (63-92)
7:05 p.m. on CSN

After losing by three possessions on Sunday and getting an off day Monday to think about it, the Phillies are back in action Tuesday night to begin their final road series of 2016.

Let's take a look:

1. The finish line nears
Forty-nine down, two to go. The Phillies have just two series left this season, a three-gamer in Atlanta and then a set with the Mets at home to close it out. 

The Phils have a series record of 18-25-6. They have just six series wins in 21 tries since the All-Star break (6-12-3). 

The Phillies and Braves have played seven times in the second half and the Phils are 2-5 — they split a four-game series July 28-31 in Atlanta and were swept at home Sept. 2-4.

With 70 wins, the Phillies have already beaten their over-under by four victories. If they manage to split these final six games, they'll finish 10 games better than they did in 2015.

The Braves, meanwhile, will avoid 100 losses. That didn't look possible when they were 33-66 and on pace for 109 losses. But Atlanta has been much better the last six weeks, especially offensively.

2. Freeman's monstrous year
Whether it was the addition of Matt Kemp or just regression to his true talent level, Freddie Freeman has been a force of nature this summer.

Freeman started slowly. Through June 12, he was hitting .242 with a .750 OPS in 61 games. Since then? He's hit .347/.445/.673 with 33 doubles, five triples, 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 91 games. The Braves are just three games under .500 over that span at 44-47.

It's pretty amazing that Freeman has had an MVP-caliber season in a lineup that offers so little protection. This has been the best year of his seven-year career. In 669 plate appearances, he's hit .305/.402/.570 with 43 doubles, six triples, 32 homers and 87 RBIs. He's also walked 86 times. 

Freeman's best work this year has come against the Phillies. In 16 games, he's gone 22 for 60 (.367) with a .449 OBP, five doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs.

3. The push toward 200
Jerad Eickhoff makes his 32nd start of the season tonight and will likely have one more on the final day. He enters tonight's game with 187⅓ innings pitched, 12⅔ shy of the 200-inning benchmark every pitcher seeks.

Eickhoff said early in the summer that 200 innings would be meaningful to him and acknowledged it just sounds different than 195. It's taken health, stamina and consistency for Eickhoff to get to this point at age 26 in his first full big-league season.

Eickhoff (11-14, 3.75 ERA) has made six consecutive quality starts. He's steadied the Phillies' rotation for four months now. Since May 22, Eickhoff is 10-8 with a 3.52 ERA, but if you remove the one dreadful outing at hitter-friendly Coors Field, his ERA over that span is 3.13. He very well could be the opening day starter in 2017.

Eickhoff has faced the Braves five times in his career and gone 2-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. 

Freeman is 5 for 14 against him with a double and a homer, but all other active Braves have hit a combined .209 with no extra-base hits in more than 75 plate appearances.

4. Last look at Teheran
The Phillies take on talented Braves right-hander Julio Teheran for the third time this season and 15th time in his six-year career.

Could it be their last time seeing him in an Atlanta uniform? That's always a possibility for the rebuilding Braves with Teheran, who has long been an intriguing trade candidate. A 25-year-old with a 3.37 career ERA and one of the more team-friendly contracts in baseball, Teheran figures to have immense trade value this offseason. He's due $31 million over the next three seasons in a sport where pitchers half as talented now earn similar average annual salaries.

If Teheran is eventually dealt for a package of prospects, the Phillies won't be sad to see him go. He's 7-4 with a 2.31 ERA and has allowed just five home runs to them in 89⅔ career innings. His starts against the Phillies the last three years have been even better: 6-2, 1.39 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 13 walks, one homer allowed in 71 innings.

His last time out, Teheran allowed just one run over seven innings to the Mets but struck out only one batter. He hasn't missed many bats lately, generating just three swings-and-misses in his last start and six two outings before that.

Teheran has five pitches but mostly uses a four-seam fastball/slider combination. When he last faced the Phillies on Sept. 4, 90 of his 119 pitches were four-seamers or sliders.

Current Phillies have hit .219 collectively against Teheran in 169 at-bats. Freddy Galvis has seen him the best, going 7 for 18 (all singles) with three walks. Ryan Howard has two doubles and two solo homers off Teheran in 26 ABs.

5. This and that
• File this one under stats nobody would have predicted: The Braves have the highest on-base percentage in the majors since the All-Star break at .346. The Phillies are fifth-worst at .306.

• In 50 games with Atlanta, Kemp has hit .287/.341/.508 with 13 doubles, 10 homers and 35 RBIs. He had 16 walks in 100 games with the Padres and has 18 in half as many games with the Braves. His poor defense has still made him a net negative player this season (if you believe in WAR), but the Braves are 26-24 since acquiring him.

• If the season ended today, the Phillies would have the ninth pick in next June's draft. Based on the records of the teams around them, they are a near lock to pick either 8th, 9th or 10th.

MLB Notes: Bag of signed Jose Fernandez baseballs wash up near site of fatal crash

MLB Notes: Bag of signed Jose Fernandez baseballs wash up near site of fatal crash

MIAMI — As the baseball world mourned the death of Jose Fernandez, a beachgoer found a bag containing four baseballs signed by the Marlins 24-year-old pitcher.

WSVN-TV reports a black bag containing Jose Fernandez's checkbook and four autographed baseballs apparently washed ashore on Miami Beach not far from the site the pitcher's boat slammed into a jetty early Sunday. Fernandez and two friends were killed.

Ocean Rescue Division Chief Vincent Canosa tells WSVN the bag was given to a lifeguard and that it apparently came from the boat.

Fernandez had been scheduled to start Monday night's game against the New York Mets. Instead, his teammates honored him in an emotional pre-game ceremony. The players took the field, tears in their eyes, wearing black jerseys with the number 16 and Fernandez's name on back.

Rangers: Brother of Yu Darvish convicted on gambling charges
TOKYO — A Japanese court on Tuesday convicted the brother of Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish of gambling on baseball games, handing him a suspended prison sentence.

The Osaka District Court found Sho Darvish guilty of taking hundreds of bets on Major League Baseball and on professional baseball games in Japan last year.

The court said the 27-year-old younger brother of Yu Darvish was sentenced to two years and four months in prison, but it was suspended for five years. The court said the defendant's gambling was limited to his group of friends and was not linked to organized crime, according to local media reports.

The younger Darvish took bets of 10,000 yen ($100) on Japanese and American professional baseball games, accepting wagers totaling about 110 million yen ($1.1 million) through the LINE social networking application, Kyodo News reported.

Sho Davsish himself bet roughly 220 million yen ($2.2 million) on the games, Kyodo said.

His arrest last year led to an investigation of his brother, Yu Darvish, but the authorities found no involvement by the Rangers star.

Sho Darvish reportedly said during his trial that he regretted causing trouble to his family and that he planned to change his surname to make their relationship less obvious.

But on Tuesday, judge Hajime Hashimoto reportedly advised Darvish that what should change are his actions, not his name.