After his start was pushed back because of spring training elbow trouble, Hamels was roughed up and chased early Friday in Colorado’s 10-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
“I’m concerned about him,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He had a hard time locating pitches. He had a problem with his command, locating the ball where he wanted it.”
Jason Marquis pitched seven strong innings in his Rockies debut, and Colorado beat the defending World Series champions in its home opener. The crowd of 49,427 was the highest paid attendance in a regular-season game at Coors Field, which opened in 1995.
They didn’t see the same Hamels who won NLCS and World Series MVP trophies last year.
Hamels (0-1) was supposed to start Philadelphia’s season opener Sunday night, but his outing was delayed due to a sore left elbow that slowed him this spring. The left-hander allowed seven runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings, including a five-run third in which gave up half a dozen extra-base hits.
“Cole Hamels doesn’t pitch at 86 mph. He pitches 88, 93. That’s a huge difference,” Manuel said. “That tells me that he’s not quite ready yet. He threw 80 pitches and he got some work in, but at the same time he’s way better than that.”
Manuel expects Hamels to throw harder the more work he gets.
“Remember, he didn’t throw a lot in spring training,” Manuel said. “He still needs work and he’s not real strong at the moment.”
Manuel hinted that Hamels might even miss his next start.
“We will find out in five days,” Manuel said. “He’s not right. He’s not there. I’ll talk to (pitching coach Rich) Dubee and I’ll talk to Cole.”
Hamels, who said his velocity is always down this early in the season, said location was his biggest problem, along with Colorado’s thin air, which robbed him of his curveball and forced him to throw a steady diet of changeups, which he hung, and fastballs, which “were right down the middle.”
“I think a lot of it was command,” Hamels said. “I wasn’t able to locate down in the zone. Most times I was able to get two strikes on a guy but wasn’t able to put them away. … Pitchers aren’t able to do well when they can’t hit their spots.”
Hamels said he’s always thrown 86 mph in April and hits the 88-93 range when the calendar flips to May.
“I’m not an 86 mph pitcher,” he said. “It’s hard to get hitters out throwing 86 right down the middle. You can throw 86, but you have to locate pitches.
“Throwing down the middle at 86 is batting practice for most hitters.”
Declaring that he’s healthy, Hamels said he won’t really know if this outing had anything to do with his health until his next start.
But will he be on the mound when his turn comes up again at Washington next week?
“It takes hard work the next five days,” Hamels said. “I’m capable of it. It’s a matter of bearing down and really working.”
Marquis (1-0), acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the offseason, looked to be in midseason form. He improved to 4-0 at Coors Field by allowing two runs and five hits. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate with a sacrifice bunt, a run-scoring single and a double.
“I try to play the game like I was taught growing up,” Marquis said. “I take pride in whatever I do, whether it’s baserunning, bunting, hitting, pitching. You never know what can help you win a ballgame.”
Jayson Werth went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a homer and scored all of Philadelphia’s runs. But cleanup hitter Ryan Howard bounced into three double plays as the Phillies fell to 1-3. They also lost catcher Carlos Ruiz to a strained muscle on his side.
Hamels’ unpleasant third inning could have been even worse, but plate umpire Mike Everitt called Dexter Fowler out for runners’ interference when he pushed a bunt up the first-base line and Ruiz picked up the ball and nailed him in the back with a throw to first base. Colorado manager Clint Hurdle argued vehemently and replays showed Fowler never strayed from the chalk line as he sprinted to first.
“We didn’t agree on anything we talked about out there,” Hurdle said. “I mean, the kid’s pushing the ball to the right side. He ran a direct line from as soon as he bunted the ball down to first. I thought the throw snatched Howard into the base path. I don’t see any other way Dexter could run that ball out.”
It didn’t stop the Rockies, though.
Marquis started the rally when he singled home Clint Barmes from second base. After Fowler was called out, another run scored on Helton’s groundout. Atkins hit a two-run homer, his first hit of the season, and Troy Tulowitzki drove in another run with a triple that made it 5-1.
Atkins had started out 0-for-12 before connecting on a 1-1 pitch and depositing it high into the left-field bleachers.
The Rockies tagged Hamels for four hits and two more runs in the fourth. Ryan Spilborghs hit a two-out RBI double and scored on Helton’s single.
“There’s no easy out in our whole lineup, from one through eight,” Atkins said. “One through nine when Marquis is in there.”
Ruiz left in the seventh with a right oblique strain and is day-to-day. But Manuel thinks Ruiz could be out for an extended period. “He hurt his rib cage,” Manuel said. “That’s the way they used to call it. The old-time diagnosis. If it’s a strained rib cage, it’s two weeks.” … The Rockies have homered in all four games.