CINCINNATI — The first time Cole Hamels ever pitched in a Major League Baseball game was at Great American Ball Park. That’s when the stadium bled runs.
The Reds couldn’t figure out Hamels the night of May 12, 2006, as he no-hit them into the fifth inning of an eventual 8-4 win by Philadelphia. Here it is, eight years later, and they have still yet to figure out Hamels.
Hamels was again masterful against the Reds, pitching 7 2/3 shutout innings as the Phillies ended their own six-game losing streak and sent the Reds to their third consecutive defeat, 8-0, Friday night at GABP. He is now a perfect 10-0 against the Reds in 13 career starts, including a NLDS clinching 2-0 complete game at GABP in 2010. The Reds have never beaten the Phillies when Hamels has started against them.
That’s absurd. They at least beat Roy Oswalt a couple of times in his career.
"Anytime you have success against a team in general, whatever players they put out there, and they have tremendous players, you just have to go into that zone with confidence knowing I can get guys out," said Hamels. "I’ve been able to stay in that zone and not second-guess or doubt. As long as you’re able to not second-guess or doubt yourself, you’re going to be in pretty good hands."
No one would ever have guessed Hamels was 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA entering Friday’s game. Of course, his lone win before Friday night was against the Reds, a 12-1 Philadelphia victory at Citizen’s Bank Park on May 17.
Hamels continued a run of offensive futility by the Reds that San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner carried the last two games. Cincinnati has scored just three runs in its last three games, including being shut out the last 17 innings.
The Reds barely tested Hamels. They managed just five hits and two walks against him. Only one time did they have two runners on base at the same time; that came in the fourth inning when Jay Bruce singled opposite field against a shift to send Todd Frazier first-to-third with two outs. Hamels got Ryan Ludwick to end the threat with a force play to shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
The closest the Reds came to scoring was when Hamels let go a wild pitch in the seventh inning with Ludwick on third base but catcher Carlos Ruiz quickly recovered the ball and threw to a covering Hamels who tagged Ludwick out at the plate.
Hamels struck out seven before being pulled after 125 pitches. Only two outs he recorded were on fly balls to the outfield. Everything else was on the infield.
"Cole was outstanding. He has a history of pitching well here," said Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg. "He had a lot of takes for strikes, indicating he was hitting his spots inside and out. He really set the tone."
Hamels has always set the tone against the Reds. His first career complete game came against them at GABP on April 21, 2007. It followed a team meeting that addressed a poor start to the season by the Phillies. Hamels struck out a career-high 15 batters that game, getting every position player at least once and three times getting Adam Dunn and Brandon Phillips.
The Reds have a collective batting average of .169 against Hamels. His career ERA against Cincinnati is 1.36.
"Sometimes that happens early on in a career and that momentum and positive feeling never leaves," said Sandberg.