By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
PHILADELPHIA—The Phillies 10-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday was not because of a solid pitching gone to waste because of a lack of hitting by the Phils.
That’s because the starting pitching by the ace of the Phillies rotation wasn’t good at all. By the top of the fifth inning, Cole Hamels had thrown 106 pitches, given up five runs on six hits including a pair homeruns. The Phillies (19-22) were in a 5-1 hole.
“What you saw was he was having a hard time putting the ball where he wanted to go,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He thought he had some close pitches. Evidently, he didn’t get them, but at the same time, he was having trouble locating his pitches.”
Hamels record dropped to a dismal 1-6. The Phillies are 1-8 in the games that Hamels has started for the Phillies. In 2012, the Phillies were 21-10 in his 31 starts.
“I’m constantly making adjustments,” Hamels said. “I feel healthy, I feel strong. I’m able to throw all four pitches for strikes at times, but not able to do it nine out of 10 times, especially when you’re not able to do it off the bat to get ahead of a hitter, you’re not putting him in an uncomfortable at bat.
Throughout his time on the mound, Hamels did not have command of his pitches and threw a large amount of pitches. By the second inning, he had thrown 50 pitches. In his defense, some of Hamels balls came as the result of some questionable ball and strike calls by home plate umpire Dan Iassogna.
Hamels to his credit still put the onus of his bad performance on himself and what he didn’t do.
“You can get squeezed anytime, but when you’re going 3-2, it’s hard to call a strike when you throw ball after ball,” Hamels said. “In different situations 0-2, 1-2 not getting pitch here or there, you’re attacking the strike zone, you’re being aggressive.
“When you’re not attacking the strike zone and not being aggressive, you’re not going to get those calls. The outcome was my effort and my pitching ability.”
The Phillies would cut the deficit to 5-3 in their half of the fifth on a two-run double by Jimmy Rollins, but that’s about as close as they would come. Rollins was 2-for-4 with three runs batted in for the game.
The Phillies relief pitchers were equally as horrid as the starting pitcher, giving up five runs on five hits and a home run. The combination of Chad Durbin, Jeremy Horst, and Phillipe Aumont could not keep the Indians off the board after Hamels left the game. In the sixth inning, Cleveland pushed two more runs across the plate on a bases-loaded single Asdrubal Cabrera.
In the top of the eighth a three-run homer by second baseman Jason Kipnis effectively ended the competitive portion of the game and sent most of the 38, 440 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park to the exits. Kipnis was 3-for-4 with three runs batted in and two doubles.
“The object of the game when you bring somebody in if you’re behind or tied or even if you got a lead, you gotta hold the other team,” Manuel said. “If you’re going to give up runs, especially when we’re losing that makes it really tough, we got hold them. Can you do it all the time? No, but you have to do it a higher percentage.”
The Phillies have gone 5-4 in their last nine games. At times, they have looked like a team on the verge of going on a run to be a contender and push their record above .500. Just when it looks like things are about to look up for the Phils, they’ve come down to a crashing halt.
“It’s just a matter of continuing to get over that hump,” said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. “It’s winning like three games and it’s trying to limit that step back. You’re winning three games and you lose that’s cool. Being able to bounce right back, that’s the thing. We go into this off-day and try to bounce back on Friday.”
Notes—The Phillies signed former Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins pitcher Carlos Zambrano to a minor league contract. The volatile 31-year-old right hander is 132-91 with a 3.66 earned run average in a career that spans over 12 years.
The team said Zambrano would have to go through an extended spring training down in Clearwater, Fla.and he would make a start with the Phillies Triple A affiliate at Lehigh Valley. It could take a up to a month or so for him to be ready with the big team. He could ask to be released if he’s not with the Phillies by July 1.