Two questions filled my Twitter timeline yesterday:
“What’s up with that Tiger Woods ad?” and “Which Cole will show up tonight?”
The Cole Hamels that pitched last night against the Washington Nationals was not the WFC MVP King Cole of ’08, but he wasn’t the Puppy-Emo Cole of ’09 either.
The line isn’t pretty: five innings pitched, five hits, three runs (two earned), four balls, five strikeouts, and one home run on 103 pitches. But you can’t evaluate Cole’s performance just by looking at the box score.
The Philly Faithful got nervous when Cole walked leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan on four pitches to start the game, but he would escape the inning without incident. In the top of the third, Cole would walk two more batters on nine pitches after giving up a two out, one run homer to Ian Desmond, and he would allow another run to score before getting out of the inning. In the bottom of the third, he helped his own cause by driving in a run. (Writer’s Note: Phillies pitchers are on pace to hit in 162 games this year.) An error by Ryan Howard in the fourth would lead to an unearned run that tied up the ballgame.
Even though he was working with a minuscule strike zone, Hamels missed his spots. His pitch count was high early, but he worked through it and the offense was able to bail him out. His velocity was back up to 88-91 MPH, and he used his cutter effectively. Most importantly, he didn’t show the signs of frustration and petulance that he did last year whenever he was bit by the BABIP bug.
I don’t know if Hamels is back or not. Baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, and five innings against the Nationals is a small sample size. But I’m encouraged by what I saw, and hopefully, Cole can build on the successes of last night. If he does, then maybe my Tweeps will stop calling him “Princess Cole”. That should be enough for anyone to try and work out of a slump.