With the Phillies leading 3-2 in last night's game against the Nationals in the top of the eighth, starting pitcher, Cole Hamels, took the hill for another inning of work around 80 pitches. On the first hitter of the inning, Asdrubal Cabrera, Hamels surrendered a game-tying solo homer. Shortly after Cabrera rounded the bases, manager Ryne Sandberg emerged from the dugout to pull Hamels from the game.
Hamels clearly looked upset, but at what exactly? As Sandberg went to take the ball, Hamels began his walk to the dugout with a face of disappointment. At 84 pitches in the eighth inning, you can imagine that Hamels may have been angry with being removed, but late in the game, giving up a game-tying home run on the first hitter isn't exactly a great start. So, the question from a reporter that was posed to Hamels was, "Were you mad at yourself or at the manager for taking you out?". Cole avoided the question with a rather textbook answer. (via CSNPhilly.com)
“Um, I just think it was a good game and we were able to win,” said Hamels as he pointedly dodged a question about why he was so visibly upset upon leaving the game.
After Hamels answered some other questions, the reporter asked for clarification on the earlier question of whether he was mad at himself or at the manager for pulling him. Cole made sure that was the last question asked. (via CSNPhilly.com)
“It was a good game that we won today,” Hamels said. “See you guys.”
Two weeks ago in San Francisco, Kyle Kendrick did the same thing to Sandberg. Normally, the pitcher waits for the manager to get to the mound to take the ball from the guy. Instead Kendrick and Hamels began their walk to the dugout without even looking at Sandberg. The Phillies manager commented on it, though he hadn't spoken with Cole about it yet.
“You know what, I had given him a verbal,” Sandberg said. “He knew he was out there hitter by hitter.”
Sandberg was asked if he knew whether Hamels was angry with himself or angry about being taken out.
“I haven’t talked to him yet,” Sandberg said.
This obviously bears a question of whether Sandberg has the respect and control of the clubhouse. First Kendrick snubbed him in SF, then meetings with David Buchanan and Dom Brown about managerial decisions. Now, former World Series MVP Cole Hamels leaves the mound in disgust. Sandberg and Kendrick spoke the day after his ordeal, so that is likely to happen today between him and Cole.
To review, there are two ways to look at this really. First, Hamels is angry at Sandberg. Sure, he has some right to be with his pitch count being at 84 when he was pulled. That would have to be the only reason. Cole had cruised through six innings before allowing two runs in the seventh and the solo homer in the eighth. It was clear that the Nationals were seeing something they hadn't in the first six frames. Obviously, if you surrender a game-tying solo home run when you are in line for the win, it is frustrating and that showed.
Though we never may get the answer of whether Cole was more angry at himself or Sandberg, I think it is common knowledge that it is a little of both. If I were Hamels, I wouldn't be happy giving up that homer and not be able to come back and get the next three hitters. As a manager though, no matter if you have an ace or someone else on the mound, if he sees something he doesn't like it is his decision to make the move to the bullpen.
Sandberg opted to go to rookie flamethrower Ken Giles, who promptly struck out the side following Hamels' exit. The Phillies added on a run in the bottom half of the eighth before Jonathan Papelbon saved it with a perfect 1-2-3 ninth. The Phillies were powered by a two-run Freddy Galvis home run and a Darin Ruf solo blast. Carlos Ruiz added the go-ahead sac fly in the eighth.
While Sandberg may have had his meetings with Kendrick, Brown and Buchanan, today's meeting with Hamels is the most important as he is an important, cornerstone piece of this franchise. He had issues earlier this year with Rollins and Howard, so it is clear to see that there is some distance between the manager and some of the veterans on the Phillies.
All this aside, the Phillies have won three consecutive series' for the first time since last July. Oh happy day.
If you didn't happen to catch Hamels leaving the mound last night, fast forward to the 1:14 mark in this video - http://m.mlb.com/phi/video/v35691983/wshphi-hamels-fans-five-holds-nats-to-three-runs/?tcid=mm_phi_vid&c_id=phi
Brandon Apter, Publishing Editor for Philliedelphia