Staked to a 4-0 lead after the first inning, Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels looked as if he would be cruising through his second start of the season. Unfortunately for the Phillies, this is not how it happened and the final result was not what anyone could have expected.
Hamels began the game very much in cruise control. After a rocky Opening Day outing, the young ace retired the first three batters he faced before surrendering his first base runner via a walk to start off the second. He finished the frame still without giving up a hit.
The first hit of the day for the Kansas City Royals came as a bunt single to Chris Getz. Getz would later come around to score as the Royals notched two runs in the inning, still giving Hamels and the Phillies a two run lead.
Hamels pitched a clean fourth inning before things began to get rocky in the fifth. He allowed a leadoff double to Getz and continued to struggle as he loaded the bases. What came next for Hamels was certainly not what he or the team was prepared for.
A bad pitch to Billy Butler became a negative exclamation point on Hamels’ start as the ball sailed over the outfield fence, making it the fourth home run given up by the Phillies ace this season.
He continued to labor into the fifth where he left runners on second and third before being relieved by Chad Durbin. Durbin, who has also struggled mightily this season, allowed both runners to score leaving Hamels with a line of 5.2 IP, 9 H, 8 ER and 4 BB.
Adding these numbers to his previous start, Hamels is 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP. He has already walked five and given up four home runs. To put this into context in 2012, Hamels did not give up his fourth home run until May 18, his eighth start of the season. His fifth walk came on May 1.
Overall, it is still early in the season, just the second start for Hamels. That said, considering how well he pitched last year and how he has struggled this season, it has to be a cause of concern for the Phillies especially with the question marks surrounding Roy Halladay.
What is also concerning is that Hamels pitched so well in the spring, yielding just a 0.95 ERA and 11 hits in 19 innings pitched. He also struck out 15, a stark contrast to the just seven he has managed to strike out so far in the regular season.
For someone who began the season as a top-five Cy Young contender, Hamels’ stock is slowly dropping. He will still have time to right the ship, but it will have to come soon as the Phillies need the level of pitching he provided in 2012 and they need it desperately.