Hamels takes blame after Phillies' loss to Mets

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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.”

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler played with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez when the two were growing up in Cuba. They traveled together to Venezuela for a youth tournament.

Soler said Fernandez's ability was obvious, right from the start.

"Since he was a child, since we were kids, I knew he had something," Soler said through a translator. "He had a talent. It was very impressive."

Fernandez's death in a boating accident at the age of 24 cast a dark shadow over the major leagues on Sunday. Miami's home game against Atlanta was canceled, and several ballparks observed moments of silence. Wrigley Field's iconic hand-operated scoreboard displayed Fernandez's No. 16 in its pitching column next to Miami.

But the loss of Fernandez was felt most acutely in baseball's growing Cuban community.

"He was one of those guys that everybody loved," St. Louis Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena said. "He was one of those guys that everybody knew exactly what he meant to our community. For us, it's a big, big loss. It's one of those things where our thoughts and prayers are obviously with his family, the Marlins' organization and the fans. But it gets a little bit closer because he was part of our Cuban family."

There were 23 Cubans on opening-day major league rosters this year, an increase of five over last season and the most since the commissioner's office began releasing data in 1995. Many of the players share similar stories when it comes to their perilous journey from the communist country to the majors, and the difficulty of adjusting to life in the United States.

A native of Santa Clara, Cuba, Fernandez was unsuccessful in his first three attempts to defect, and spent several months in prison. At 15, Fernandez and his mother finally made it to Mexico, and were reunited in Florida with his father, who had escaped from Cuba two years earlier.

He was drafted by the Marlins in 2011, and quickly turned into one of the majors' top pitchers.

"How he was on the mound was a reflection of him," Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "A guy who had a lot of fun, was himself. A very talkative guy, he would come into the room and you'd know he was in the room. Never big-leagued anyone, very professional. No matter what, he would talk to you about hitting, because he thought he was the best hitter, and he (would) talk to you about pitching, because he thought he was the best pitcher."

Alonso said Fernandez's death was "a big-time shock." Yasiel Puig used torn pieces of white athletic tape to display Fernandez's jersey on the wall in the home dugout at Dodger Stadium. Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz, who had known Fernandez since they were little kids, declined an interview request through a team spokeswoman.

"We Cuban players know each other well and all of us have a great relationship," Pena said. "For us, it's devastating news when we woke up. We were sending text messages to each other and we were showing support. It's something that obviously nobody expects."

Fernandez, who became a U.S. citizen last year, also was beloved for his stature in the Cuban community in Miami.

"He was a great humanitarian," Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman said through a translator. "He gave a lot to the community and I think that's why he got a lot of respect from the community in terms of what a great person he was and always giving, in terms of always willing to help out in whatever way he can to try to better and progress within the community someone that perhaps wasn't as fortunate as he was."

The 28-year-old Chapman lives in the Miami-area in the offseason. He said he spent some time with Fernandez while he was home.

"He would come by my house. I would go by his," Chapman said. "We would have long conversations. We would talk a lot. We spent a lot of good amount of time together. It was very special for me."

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

NEW YORK — The clubhouse mood following the Phillies17-0 loss to the Mets Sunday was somber, in part because of the disastrous game that had just wrapped up, but also because of the tragic news of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

“It was rough. People are devastated. I didn’t even know him and I was crushed,” Phillies starter Jake Thompson said. “I can only imagine how that clubhouse feels. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, to deal with something of that magnitude.”

Both teams paused for a moment of silence before Sunday’s game and the Mets taped a jersey bearing Fernandez’s name and number onto their dugout wall.

“This morning, that was quite a surprise,” manager Pete Mackanin said of the atmosphere of the day. “I don’t think it affected the players once the game started. It was such bad news this morning that everybody was kind of melancholy.”

Fernandez had built a strong track record against the Phillies in his young career, amassing a 2.88 ERA in six starts.

“It’s kind of cliché to say but you look at the start of his career and he could have been a Hall of Famer,” Thompson said.

Asked how he would remember facing Fernandez, Mackanin was succinct.

“He was a helluva pitcher,” he said.

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