Hamels takes blame after Phillies' loss to Mets

slideshow-062113-phillies-hamels-ap.jpg

Hamels takes blame after Phillies' loss to Mets

BOX SCORE

Get Chase Utley back in the lineup and everything’s going to be OK, right?

No. Not by a long shot.

Utley’s return from the disabled list Friday night meant little to the Phillies, who lost for the ninth time in the last 13 games when Cole Hamels could not protect an early three-run lead in absorbing a 4-3 loss to the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).

“This was a game I feel like we could have seized and I wasn’t able to take care of what I needed to take care of on the field,” Hamels said. “It’s my fault.”

Summer is officially here. This is about the time when everyone figured to be hearing about Hamels winning his 11th game and being on a collision course to start the All-Star Game.

Instead, Hamels has 11 losses. That’s not a typo. He leads the majors with 11 losses. He is the first Phillies pitcher since 1937 to have 11 losses before July 1.

Less than a year after signing the richest contract in Philadelphia sports history, Hamels could lose 20 games.

That’s mind-blowing.

The Phillies are 2-14 in the left-hander’s 16 starts and 35-39 on the season.

Frustration is growing in the clubhouse and the manager’s office.

Jonathan Papelbon aired some grievances after Wednesday night’s loss and manager Charlie Manuel threatened to knock out a reporter after Friday night’s loss. The reporter, Howard Eskin, pressed Manuel as to why the Phillies’ offense stinks. Manuel, who has heard the question over and over this season, finally heard enough and fired on him (see story).

It was about as much life as any Phillie showed after the second inning, when the Phils rallied for three runs against Jeremy Hefner, then went into their typical shutdown mode.

On some nights, in some seasons, those three runs might have been enough for Hamels. But not in the nightmare season of 2013.

Hamels breezed through the first three innings then allowed seven hits and four runs over the next three innings on his way to being bounced from the game. The Phillies’ offense, of course, couldn’t pick him up.

For the season, Hamels is 2-11 with a 4.50 ERA.

The Phillies have scored at least three runs behind Hamels eight times this season. His ERA is 6.36 in those games. His ERA is 2.87 when he gets two or fewer runs.

“He’s having a tough time,” Manuel said. “We’ve had some games where we don’t get him any runs. At the same time, he’s had games when he’s giving up some runs and gotten hit.

“Tonight, he wasn’t really sharp. I’ve seen him a lot better, of course.”

Three of the runs that Hamels gave up came with two outs. Eric Young Jr. tied the game at 3-3 when he laced a two-out, two-run single up the middle on a 2-2 fastball in the fifth. Juan Lagares put the Mets ahead with a two-out, RBI double in the sixth. The hit scored Lucas Duda, who had reached on a one-out walk.

“It’s just been a bad case of not being able to keep my team in games,” Hamels said of his season. “Ultimately, teams are getting runs here and there. I’m trying to prevent them, but it’s just not happening.

“It does get frustrating. I prepare to win. I strive to win. But ultimately I make the wrong pitch and it seems to break open the game for (the opposition).

“I’m not doing my part because I’m not preventing enough runs when we do get runs and that’s a frustrating process.”

Utley played behind Hamels in the World Series championship season of 2008 and Hamels’ 17-win season last year.

This is new.

In a bad way.

“I think we all know how hard he works,” Utley said. “He’s pitched better than his record indicates.”

While Hamels took the blame for loss, it wasn’t like everything was his fault. Three runs of support are better than two runs, but the offense wasn’t exactly robust.

“We left 10 men on base,” Manuel lamented. “We need to score runs and we didn’t do it.”

Utley went 0 for 5 in his return to the lineup.

“We had chances,” he said. “We just couldn’t capitalize.”

Instant Replay: Mets 12, Phillies 1

Instant Replay: Mets 12, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK – Jeremy Hellickson’s string of strong starts ended Saturday night in the Phillies’ 12-1 loss to the New York Mets.

The Phillies had just three hits and were overpowered by Mets starter Noah Syndergaard.

Hellickson was tagged for five runs, the most he’d given up in a start since June 10, in just four innings. All the runs came on a pair of homers.

The Mets have clubbed eight homers – good for 18 runs – in the first two games of the series.

Phillies starting pitchers have had a poor month of August. They have allowed 92 earned runs in 114 innings for a 7.26 ERA and given up a majors-high 33 homers.

The Phils have lost 13 of their last 17 at Citi Field. They are 9-21 against the Mets the last two seasons.

Starting pitching report 
Hellickson entered the game with a 2.60 ERA in his previous 11 starts. He was victimized by the long ball in this one. All five of the runs he allowed over four innings came on home runs, a two-run shot and a three-run shot.

Hellickson is 10-8 with a 3.80 ERA in 26 starts this season.

By the way, Hellickson is staying for the remainder of the season. According to a baseball source, he was claimed on waivers this month and pulled back, making him ineligible for a trade.

Syndergaard’s fastball reached triple digits. He held the Phillies to two hits and a run over seven innings. He struck out seven. He is 12-7 with a 2.55 ERA.

Bullpen report 
David Hernandez relieved Hellickson and pitched two scoreless innings, but Michael Mariot was tagged for six runs in the seventh, four when he served up a grand slam.

At the plate
Freddy Galvis’ solo homer in the third inning was the Phillies’ offense.

Asdrubal Cabrera belted a two-run homer for the Mets in the third inning. Yoenis Cespedes smacked a three-run homer on a full-count pitch in the fourth. Cabrera has three homers in the first two games of the series.

Kelly Johnson cracked a pinch-hit grand slam to give the Mets a 10-run lead in the seventh. Neil Walker homered in the eighth.

Ellis arrives
A.J. Ellis, acquired from the Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade, joined the club before the game. The veteran catcher is ready to offer some wisdom to the Phillies’ young pitchers (see story).

Up next
The series concludes on Sunday afternoon. Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.31) pitches against Mets right-hander Robert Gsellman (1-0, 0.00). Gsellman will be making his first big-league start.

A.J. Ellis still adjusting, learning names as he joins the Phillies

A.J. Ellis still adjusting, learning names as he joins the Phillies

NEW YORK – It wasn’t easy leaving the only professional organization he’d ever been part of, but new Phillie A.J. Ellis, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade Thursday, is coming to terms with it.

“To find out that the trade went down, it was hard,” Ellis said upon reporting to his new club Saturday. “It was so immediate and sudden, really hard to say goodbye to a lot of relationships I had been blessed to forge for more than a decade.

“But the waves of emotion are getting farther and farther apart, which is a good thing.”

Ellis, 35, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2003 and rose to the majors with them in 2008. With the Phillies, he will serve a similar role to the one he played with the Dodgers – backup catcher. Ellis wasted no time getting to know the pitching staff he will now work with. He arrived at Citi Field early Saturday afternoon and caught Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff in their between-starts bullpen sessions.

Ellis said “Eichorn” when referring to Eickhoff. He’s forgiven. It’s been a whirlwind week.

“See?” he said. “I’m still learning names.”

Ellis, who served as the personal catcher for Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw, was blindsided by the trade.

“When I was summoned to the ballpark, that’s never really a good thing, especially when the front office wants to meet with you as far as where you’re at with the club, you know some kind of transition is happening,” he said. “The first 12 hours were definitely the hardest.

“But to arrive here and arrive in the clubhouse, meeting the staff, I’m starting to feel re-energized, refilled with a sense of purpose as to why I’ve been placed here, and why this is where I need to be at this time. I’m excited about that.

"I know I have huge shoes to fill. Carlos Ruiz is such a fixture in the Phillies organization. The work that he’s done here behind the plate, you can’t fill. This guy is a world champion catcher who has been back there for so many great baseball memories. So it’s up to me to do my part to fill the void.”

Manager Pete Mackanin thought about putting Ellis in the lineup Saturday night then had some mercy when he figured facing hard-throwing Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard might not be the best indoctrination for a guy who just flew cross-country. Ellis is likely to start Sunday afternoon’s series finale and catch Vince Velasquez.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t asked to make a contribution to Saturday night’s game. Mackanin said he wanted Ellis to speak with the Phillies hitters about the weaknesses the Dodger pitchers tried to exploit.

“We talk to them about this stuff all the time, but it might help to hear it from an outside source,” Mackanin said.

Ellis left a first-place club for a rebuilding team. That’s not easy. He has come to terms with that. He likes the young talent on the Phillies’ roster and hopes to help it come to flower.

“Guys are playing for their careers,” he said. “Guys are playing to make their mark in this game and create a winning franchise once again in Philadelphia. 

"You see the talent, you see their desire to learn, their desire to get better. You just know the youth on this staff, the talent level on this staff. And if I can in some short time here impact some wisdom on those guys, share some of the wisdom along the way that I’ve picked up from some great mentors I’ve had in my time in the game, I need to pay it back, from what all has been given to me.”

Ellis hit just .197 with a .285 on-base percentage in 53 games for the Dodgers this season. That’s one of the reasons the Dodgers acquired Ruiz – to get more production from their right-handed-hitting backup catcher. Ruiz had a .369 on-base percentage at the time of the trade.

Phillies’ general manager Matt Klentak was “adamant” that Ellis come back on the deal because he wanted someone who could fill Ruiz’ void on (behind the plate) and off (with clubhouse leadership) the field. Ellis’ time with the Phillies might be short. He will be a free agent at the end of the season and his playing time might be scant as September unfolds. The Phils will probably add prospect Jorge Alfaro to the catching mix sometime during that month. Management seems eager to get a look at him while still getting No. 1 catcher Cameron Rupp the game reps he needs.

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

After watching his club get smacked around in a 9-4 loss to the Mets on Friday, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has tinkered with his lineup for Saturday's game at Citi Field.

Odubel Herrera moves up to the two-hole after hitting sixth Friday, while Aaron Altherr goes from second to third and Jimmy Paredes gets the start in left and bats seventh. Ryan Howard starts again at first base and bats fifth.

Herrera, who has been struggling since the All-Star break with a .257 average, has lost his leadoff spot to Cesar Hernandez but is starting to find his swing again.

In the last seven days, Herrera is 5 for 17 with a double and a run scored. In August, the centerfielder is hitting .288 with two homers and five RBIs.

Altherr, who played left field Friday, moves over to right field and Peter Bourjos gets the night off. Altherr is hitting .255 with four home runs and 19 RBIs on the season.

Here is the full Phillies lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, RF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P

For more on tonight's's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes.