Hamels nailed by liner in Phillies' loss
Ace exits in fourth inning; lineup no-hit into eighth inning
PHILADELPHIA -- It could have been much worse for Cole Hamels, but he seemed to take little solace in that.
His team lost, and nothing is going his way in 2009.
Hamels, who missed time in Spring Training because of inflammation in his left elbow, entered Thursday's 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park with an 11.17 ERA. He retired nine of the first 11 batters he faced and appeared to be finding his mojo again when Ryan Braun hit a two-run home run to left field with one out in the fourth inning. But Prince Fielder followed Braun and ripped a line drive off the back of Hamels' left shoulder, forcing him to leave the game.
"The ball came off the bat at like 1,000 miles per hour," said first baseman Ryan Howard, whose team was no-hit through 7 1/3 innings by Brewers right-hander Dave Bush.
Hamels, who has a nasty bruise to show for it, said he expects to make his next start Tuesday against Washington.
"Oh, yeah," Hamels said. "I'll be fine. I've gotten hit in much worse spots, spots where you don't really come back as fast. I'll be able to go out there and pitch in five days. Hopefully, it'll finally be five days instead of the six or seven because of these rainouts. ... I've got a temporary tattoo of a baseball that I'll be suffering, but it'll be going away."
But while Hamels is confident he will be back on the mound, it remains to be seen how the shoulder reacts when he throws his bullpen session this weekend in Florida.
"It's frustrating, because I've really worked hard to really bear down to be able to locate and throw strikes and put them away," Hamels said. "And I feel like I was really getting on a good pace and pitching the way I know I'm capable of doing."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel agreed.
"He was pitching good," he said. "Braun is hot right now, but he pitched very good. The first three innings, he basically was putting the ball where he wanted it. He had good stuff. He was in line to pitch a real good game."
Hamels had struck out six Brewers in the first three innings. He was throwing his fastball, changeup and curveball for strikes.
But then ... whack.
Hamels told Manuel that he wanted to continue pitching after Fielder's ball struck him in the shoulder.
But the Phillies played it safe.
Hamels eventually understood.
Pitch with a tight or sore shoulder, and that could cause Hamels to alter his mechanics. Alter his mechanics, and that could cause an injury.
And the last thing Hamels and the Phillies need is their ace to miss more time.
"It seems like everything just keeps getting delayed," Hamels said. "I really felt like I was getting back my timing. Just my approach felt more comfortable, being about to go out there, throw strikes and get guys out, and then putting us in an opportunity to win a ball game. Then three innings, and kind of get shut down before you really even get into the game, I think that's the most frustrating part than anything."
Not that it mattered in the game's outcome, because even if Hamels had dominated the rest of the way, Bush had a no-hitter going until Matt Stairs hit a pinch-hit home run with one out in the eighth inning.
Manuel credited Bush for his dominance, but he also lamented a lack of quality at-bats from his hitters.
Of course, there is not much he can do about that.
"I don't know what I can do," Manuel said. "I can't hit. My hitting days are over."
It won't get any easier for the Phillies this weekend in Florida. They open the three-game series against right-handers Josh Johnson (2-0, 2.91 ERA) and Chris Volstad (2-0, 2.76 ERA).
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.