Cole Hamels likely just cost himself some money in the way of a fine, but the new contract he continues to pitch his way into will more than cover the expense. After holding the Nationals to one run with eight strikeouts in eight innings of work on Sunday night, Hamels didn't beat around the bush when asked what he was trying to do with a first-inning pitch that hit 19-year-old super prospect Bryce Harper in the back.
"I was trying to hit him," Hamels said. "I mean, I'm not going to deny it. It's something that I grew up watching. I'm just trying to continue old baseball, because I think some people get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie, the strike zone was really, really small and you didn't say anything, because that's the way baseball is. But I think unfortunately sometimes the league is protecting certain players and making it not as that kind of old school, prestigious way of baseball."
Hamels channeled his inner Bob Gibson when explaining his mind-set.
"It's just welcome to the big leagues," said Hamels, "and I think he kind of did that to me."
Hamels was referring to the fact that Harper, who was awarded first base with two out, went first to third on an ensuing single, then stole home when Hamels threw to first on a pickoff play.
"If he continues to do that, he's going to make a really good name for himself," Hamels said.
Nationals righthander Jordan Zimmermann responded by hitting Hamels in the leg as he squared to bunt in his first at-bat of the game. Zimmermann told Washington reporters after the game that he was not trying to hit Hamels.
Hamels said he expected to get hit.
"I'm happy that's the way it worked because that's the way it should work," Hamels said.
Hamels emphasized that he was not trying to hurt Harper.
When a reporter asked when he decided to welcome the kid to the big leagues, Hamels offered his first "no comment" of the night.
Earlier, Charlie Manuel said he did not think Hamels was trying to hit Harper.
"It looked to me like he was trying to come up and in on him and he hit him," Manuel said. "That's what I saw."