Mets, elements get best of 'embarrassed' Hamels


Mets, elements get best of 'embarrassed' Hamels


While the Flyers were electrifying their fans with a do-or-die playoff victory over the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, there was no joy across the street in Mudville.

Mighty Cole could not grip the baseball.

“Sometimes you have to battle the elements and the elements definitely got the best of me,” Cole Hamels said after he and the Phillies suffered a 6-1 loss to the New York Mets on a cold, rainy, miserable night at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).

Hamels walked five batters and hit another in 4 2/3 innings. After the loss, he said he was embarrassed by the performance -- three times.

“Just the fact of not being able to locate pitches and not being able to throw strikes or apply a plan of attack to hitters,” Hamels said. “When you’re not able to execute it creates a serious issue and it did -- it led to a very poor performance and from my standpoint I’m truly embarrassed that I didn’t give anybody a chance. Balls weren’t even being put into play because I didn’t allow them to be put in play. That’s an embarrassment because I’m not allowing my teammates to get in the game.

“When you’re walking that many guys and you’re allowing runs to score, you don’t give your team a chance to win. And even for the fans that stayed, it’s pretty embarrassing for the type of game that I went out and pitched. It’s not the type of game I like to credit myself on when I go out there and work so diligently in between starts and to start a season.

“I threw 50-something balls; I don’t do that. I guess I can say I have now.”

The first pitch of the game was delayed one hour, 28 minutes. It was 48 degrees when Hamels threw the first pitch. It was 45 degrees by the middle innings. It rained most of the game. The announced crowd was 28,189. The actual in-house attendance was probably half that.

Hamels was able to navigate the first three innings and allow just one run. He lost it in the fourth and fifth innings. He walked four batters in an inning for the first time in his career in the fourth. One of the walks was to the opposing pitcher, Jonathon Niese, with the bases loaded.

The next inning, Hamels walked a fifth batter and hit another. He failed to get the third out in the inning even after manager Ryne Sandberg left him out there to try to retire the bottom third of the order.

Hamels couldn’t to it. He threw a whopping 68 pitches in the fourth and fifth innings. He finished the game with 106 pitches in 4 2/3 innings; 51 of them were balls.

Hamels didn’t complain about the Phillies choosing to play the game in such bad weather. The team seemed hellbent on getting the game in because Wednesday's forecast is even worse and the club already had one day off this week (Monday) with another coming Thursday.

“It’s baseball," Hamels said. "You have to get your games in. There are going to be games that are wet and cold, 110-degree temperatures. You have to be able to play and master what you have out there and be able to execute. I wasn’t able to do so.”

The cold more than the rain was the root of Hamels’ problem.

“I wasn’t able to grip any of my pitches, not even a fastball,” he said. “To be able to grip a four-seam fastball and locate it, that’s first and foremost and I wasn’t able to do that, let alone try to move to another pitch. I wasn’t able to throw any of them.

“Not being able to build up enough sweat so I could get certain grips on the ball hurt. The ball definitely felt like a cue ball. Today might have been the day to use pine tar, but fortunately I don’t do that. It might have been the day to learn.

“It was just difficult to grip the baseball, but you have to be able to battle and I wasn’t able to do that.”

Niese pitched in identical conditions and was able to succeed. He logged seven innings and scattered four hits, one of which was a homer by Marlon Byrd. Niese walked just one and struck out five.

“Niese was able to deal with it and he got through it just fine," Hamels said. "A lot of credit goes to him for being able to do that. And there is embarrassment on my side for not being able to compete.”

MLB Playoffs: Indians reach 1st World Series since 1997

MLB Playoffs: Indians reach 1st World Series since 1997

TORONTO -- For the Cleveland Indians, the script was the same every game -- hope for the best from whoever they started, then count on Andrew Miller and the bullpen to close it out.

That plan seemed especially dicey in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series, with lightly used Ryan Merritt on the mound.

But out of nowhere, the rookie delivered.

Merritt coolly kept the Indians ahead until reinforcements arrived, and Cleveland earned its first trip to the World Series since 1997 by blanking the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 Wednesday.

The 24-year-old lefty defied expectations, shutting down the powerful Blue Jays before exiting in the fifth inning. Thanks to a most unlikely pitching performance, a most unexpected team won the ALCS 4-1.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

Manager Terry Francona's team will try to augment what's already been a scintillating year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first major pro sports championship since 1964.

The Indians' title drought dates to 1948. In 1997, they let a one-run lead get away in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 and lost to the Florida Marlins in the 11th.

"We always said if we could do it with this group it would be so special because this is as close to a family feel as you can get in a professional setting. So for that part of it, it is beyond feeling good," Francona said (see full recap).

Cubs' bats come alive to even series
LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and the rest of the Chicago Cubs' bats broke out in a big way.

Rizzo homered and ended a postseason slump with three RBIs, Russell's two-run drive highlighted a four-run fourth that stopped Chicago's 21-inning scoreless streak as the Cubs routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Wednesday to even the NL Championship Series at 2-all.

Kenta Maeda is set to pitch for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday against Jon Lester. Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said he will not start Clayton Kershaw on short rest after the Los Angeles ace threw a bullpen session Wednesday.

Chicago ensured the NLCS will return to Wrigley Field for Game 6 Saturday.

To break out of his prolonged slump, Rizzo used teammate Matt Szczur's bat.

"I know Szczur's bat has a lot of hits in it," Rizzo said. "I've done it a few times this year, just switching up the bat, switching up the mindset."

Following consecutive shutout losses, the Cubs rapped out 13 hits on an 80-degree (26 degree Celcius) night with the warm Santa Ana winds fluttering the flags in center field.

Rizzo and Russell had three hits each. Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters -- a combined 2 for 32 in the first three games -- busted out. Every Cubs starter got at least one hit except Kris Bryant, who walked twice (see full recap).

For first time all season, Cubs not the World Series favorite

For first time all season, Cubs not the World Series favorite

For the first day, and perhaps the only day all season, the Chicago Cubs are not the World Series favorite.

Down 2-1 to the Dodgers in the NLCS with Game 4 Wednesday night in L.A., the Cubs' World Series odds are now 5/2, according to Bovada.

The Dodgers have the best odds of the final four teams at 7/4. The Indians, up 3-1 on the Blue Jays in the ALCS, are next at 2/1. Toronto is the longshot at 8/1.

Veteran John Lackey starts for the Cubs tonight against 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias. Jon Lester goes for the Cubs Thursday in Game 5; the Dodgers haven't yet named a starter.

In any event, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Joe Blanton are just two wins away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 2009. 

Utley is 3 for 24 with eight strikeouts this postseason. 

Ruiz contributed in the NLDS with a pinch-hit two-run homer in Game 3 and a pinch-hit, game-winning RBI single in Game 5.

Blanton, who had a great season as a reliever, has made six appearances in the playoffs and five have been clean. In the other, he allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning as the Dodgers dropped Game 1 to the Cubs.

Phillies fans still keep tabs on former players from their Golden Era and applaud them when they return, but seeing Utley, Chooch and Kentucky Joe in the Fall Classic wearing Dodger blue might be too much for some to take.