Two starts, five innings pitched, five hits surrendered and only one earned run. That is the line of Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels through his first two starts of Spring Training.
Hamels took the hill Tuesday afternoon in a tune-up game against Team Dominican Republic, who will be competing in the World Baseball Classic starting this week. The results of his afternoon were not pretty.
The Dominican Republic jumped all over him, recording 12 hits against the southpaw in three innings.
Throughout his first two spring starts, Hamels had been dominant and extremely efficient. In fact, in his five total innings of work, he had thrown 34 pitches, 32 of them were thrown for strikes.
Hamels’ efficiency was his biggest downfall on Tuesday. When a hitter knows that a pitcher is likely to throw strikes, they are able to focus on a certain hitting zone and end up with quality at-bats. The Domincan hitters did just that, which is why they batted around twice in consecutive innings against him.
Hanley Ramirez, who is representing the Los Angeles Dodgers, jumped on a familiar Hamels fastball in the second inning to start the offensive explosion with a lead-off double.
After a Miguel Tejada single, Carlos Santana ripped a line drive to center to drive in the first run of the game for either team. Hamels surrendered another hit before finally getting Alejandro De Aza to fly out and getting Jose Reyes to strikeout.
Two more runners scored when Robinson Cano and Edwin Encarnacion collected two-out singles off of Hamels.
At this point, there had only been one three-ball count for the Dominican Republic. They were jumping all over Hamels early in the count due to the consistency and efficiency of his pitches.
The third inning, which ended up being Hamels’ last inning of work, was brutal. Back-to-back doubles by Ramirez and Tejada gave the Dominican Republic their fifth run of the game.
Hamels recorded two outs, one by strikeout and another by force out, but he was not out of the inning. The big blow of the inning came when Reyes took an inside fastball to the left center gap and over the fence for a home run. He gave up another single to Cano and he was finally pulled after two and two-thirds innings pitched on the day.
The Dominican Republic did not only figure Hamels out, they took advantage of strikes to score 15 runs while recording 28 hits in the ballgame.
Hamels’ struggles should cause concern for the Philadelphia faithful. Pitchers want to throw as much strikes as possible in their spring starts, especially veterans like him. He is not scheduled to pitch for another five games, but do expect a bounce-back game for the star left-hander.