ATLANTA — It was forgotten when Monday night bled into Tuesday morning, and the Braves emptied their taxed bullpen. The Phillies batted around in the 13th inning. Almost three hours after Cole Hamels departed the game, they won, 6-1.
But Hamels, again, was the brightest spot. He has a 23 2/3 inning scoreless streak, which ranks as the second longest of his accomplished career. (He posted 25 straight zeroes in 2010.) His 2.78 ERA ranks 10th in the National League.
There are no signs of his winter shoulder injury.
"You just try to take it down to the very end and put up as many zeroes as I possibly can and see what happens," Hamels said. "I think that's kind of what's been going on the past couple games."
All of Hamels' rates are steady. He has struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings, which would be his highest since his rookie season of 2006. His home runs have stabilized; a 0.5 per nine rate would rank as the lowest of his career. So, perhaps, there is some regression due there.
The 24 walks in 74 1/3 innings is the only area to nitpick. That 2.9 walks per nine innings ratio is his highest since 2006.
Hamels' average fastball velocity is 91.3 m.p.h., exactly what it was in 2013. He has hovered around that mark for each of the last five seasons. There are no red flags.
And, for once, Hamels has enjoyed some luck — even if it does not show in the pitcher's meaningless won-loss record. He escaped a seventh-inning jam Monday with a hard-hit liner right at Reid Brignac. Then he induced a double-play ball.
"That was outstanding," Ryne Sandberg said.
"That's what he's been doing for years," Brignac said. "He throws every pitch with conviction. That's the kind of pitcher you want to mold yourself after."
Hamels noted, too, that some rallies have happened at the opportune time for him.
"I think I've been able to capitalize on the opposing team's hitting situation," Hamels said. "A couple of times there were some bunts with the pitcher coming up next, and it didn't make sense, and I think I've gotten lucky in that sort of sense. But at the same time, you have to make pitches and I've just been able to do that and just get real good defense behind me."
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