By Sam Bush
There may have been better examples of a great pitching performance being submarined by no support, but nothing comes to mind.
In an 11-inning 1-0 loss to the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park, Cole Hamels was spectacular, but didn’t receive any run support. The 31-year-old southpaw recorded a season-high 12 strikeouts and yielded just four hits in seven innings.
“We’re trying to scratch out a run for him, and allow him to pitch,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “He continues to go out and give us a chance to win. … All he needed was one run today.”
The way this season has gone, it should be no surprise that Hamels was left hanging by his offense. The veteran starter entered Sunday’s game with the fourth-lowest run support (2.71 runs per game) out of all qualified starters in baseball.
Sunday was the fifth time this season Hamels gave up two runs or less and didn’t end up with a win. On one occasion, he gave up two runs and was tagged with the loss.
“I’m just doing what I can do. I only get to effect every five days,” Hamels said of the Phillies’ struggles this season. “As long as I’m going out there and being accountable, that’s all I can do.”
Despite the offensive struggles — the Phillies finished the three-game series in Pittsburgh 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position — Hamels was dealing.
And it wasn’t just his numbers that popped. He passed the eye test by messing with Pittsburgh’s eye levels.
Sandberg said it might have been Hamels’ best outing of the year in terms of pounding the lower-half of the zone and throwing crisply. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle also took note of Hamels’ dominance.
“You saw why he’s the elite pitcher that he is,” Hurdle said. “Twelve strikeouts, from velocity to cut to that filthy changeup in any count. He’s a very, very, very good pitcher.”
Unfortunately for Hamels, the Phillies’ offense didn’t mirror his success.