Hamels looks to become the NL’s first pitcher to reach 10 wins when the Phillies open a three-game interleague series against the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field on Monday night.
Hamels (9-2, 3.47 ERA) has already matched his win total from 2006, when he went 9-8 with a 4.08 ERA as a rookie. His strong second half last year earned him the No. 2 spot in the Philadelphia rotation coming into the season, but when opening day starter Brett Myers moved to the bullpen, Hamels made a smooth transition to his new role as staff ace.
The Phillies (36-33) have won 10 of the last 12 starts for Hamels, who leads the NL in wins, strikeouts (104) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.52). The left-hander also tops the league with 16 home runs allowed, but has received 72 runs of support - second-most in the NL.
“Cole’s pitched outstanding all year,” second baseman Chase Utley told the team’s official Web site. “You feel if you get a one- or two-run lead, he’s going to hold it for you. He has the kind of stuff to dominate teams.”
Hamels got the decision in the Phillies’ 7-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday - his first victory in four career interleague starts. He allowed back-to-back home runs in a tough first inning, but settled down and held the White Sox to four hits in seven shutout innings the rest of the way.
“I’m starting to control my frustration,” he said. “It’s part of having veterans around to help me learn and control it and it’s me getting experience.”
Hamels, who has never faced the Indians, will try to help Philadelphia bounce back from a 7-4 loss to Detroit on Sunday. The Phillies took a two-run lead after six innings, but gave up five runs in the seventh en route to their second loss in the three-game set.
Despite losing the series to the Tigers, the Phillies are 10-6 in June after entering the month with a losing record.
The AL Central-leading Indians (40-28), on the other hand, are 7-9 in June after entering the month 14 games over .500.
Cleveland avoided a three-game sweep against Atlanta with a 5-2 win on Sunday. The Indians took advantage of two Braves’ errors in the sixth inning, scoring four runs with only three hits.
“It takes days like today to work back in the right direction,” manager Eric Wedge told the team’s official Web site. “You put a big inning like that together, you catch a few breaks and that’s what starts to push you in the right direction. These guys are going to come around. They work too hard not to, quite frankly.”
Third baseman Casey Blake extended the longest hitting streak in the majors this season to 26 games with a single in the first inning. Blake is batting .317 during the streak, but just .261 (6-for-23) since his last multihit game June 11.
Cliff Lee (3-4, 6.04) gets the start for the Indians. The left-hander snapped a four-start losing streak with a win against Florida on Wednesday. He held the Marlins to three runs and six hits in five innings in the Indians’ 7-3 victory.
Lee has never faced Philadelphia.
The Indians won two of three at home against the Phillies from June 10-12, 2002 in the only series between the teams.