Monday, April 6, 2015

Red Sox long ball dooms Hamels, Phillies in season opener


By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
April 6 2015, 6:15 PM EST.
@PGordonPBR

PHILADELPHIA - Cole Hamels is an excellent pitcher, but there's something about opening a new season that just doesn't seem to sit right with him.

He can't explain it, and perhaps there really is no explanation, but Hamels entered Monday with a 4.91 career ERA in season openers and had lost his last four season debuts

"I think that's just the way it's gone," Hamels said.  
 
Behind a stellar performance from starter Clay Buchholz, and a pair of homeruns from both Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox beat the Phillies 8-0 on Monday afternoon in the season opener for both clubs at Citizens Bank Park.

Hamels struggled with his command early, surrendering three walks and a pair of solo home runs over the first three frames. He steadied things in the fourth, but surrendered another pair of solo homers in the fifth before being pinch hit for in the bottom of the inning. He threw 100 pitches, just 64 for strikes, and allowed five hits.

"Cole didn't get away with any high fastballs," said manager Ryne Sandberg. "His command wasn't sharp at all and it resulted in the home runs. He got into some high counts and they fouled off a lot of balls to extend at bats. He really didn't get into a rhythm to put away hitters."

Prior to Monday, Hamels had surrendered four home runs in a game just once in his career (4/23/10).

"I just wasn't able to make the right pitches at the right time," Hamels said. "I probably got away with a lot as I wasn't as accurate as I'm capable of being, so I'll take that into my next bullpen and get ready for later in the week."

Pedroia collected two of the Red Sox homers, including the first of the contest to open the scoring in the first inning. He finished the afternoon with three hits. Mookie Betts chipped in with a pair of hits and scored two runs.

"When you put your team down 1-0 in the first inning it doesn't really send the right message to your team or give momentum to your side," Hamels said. "I just have to move past and prepare for the next game."

As if Hamels' struggles weren't enough, the Phillies' offense failed to muster a serious charge against Buchholz.

The Red Sox starter held the Phillies hitless until Ryan Howard delivered a two-out double to the left field gap in the fourth. The Phillies threatened in the seventh with Carlos Ruiz and Grady Sizemore stringing together back-to-back singles, but Buchholz escaped unscathed. He collected nine strikeouts on the afternoon through seven innings.

"Buchholz was tough on us, we couldn't figure him out," Sandberg said. "He seemed to have a real good change-up that he would throw with two strikes that gave us a hard time. He stayed down with his fastball and changed speeds really well."

Ahead 4-0 in the ninth, the Red Sox jumped on Phillies' reliever Jake Diekman with an Allen Craig single and a pair of walks before Ramirez drilled a grand slam to left.

Ramirez finished the day with five RBIs.

"I'm looking at this as it's just one game," Sandberg said. "We're going to have to make the best out of at bats and runners when they get on base and go from there. This was only one game."

Notes: Shane Victorino, making his first appearance in Philadelphia since 2013, tipped his helmet to a standing ovation when he came to bat in the second inning ... With Monday's loss, Hamels fell to 1-7 with a 5.13 ERA in 10 career games to being a season. The Phillies are 2-8 in those games ... Hamels' streak of 23 consecutive starts allowing three earned runs or fewer came to an end on Monday. It was the longest streak by a Phillies pitcher since Chris Short went 26 consecutive starts from 1967-68.

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