Stretching the Field: Displeasure settling in for Hamels

The run support, or lack there of, has reached its boiling point for Philadelphia Phillies "ace" Cole Hamels.

Victimized once again by an ineffective offense, Hamels had zero patience for anyone, including the media, following Monday's 5-1 road loss against the Miami Marlins.

Hamels, who was pegged to be a National League Cy Young Award candidate in spring training, darted from the visiting clubhouse and avoided any contact with those interested in knowing what was on the left-hander's mind after he dropped to 1-7.

You read that correctly. Seven losses. Hamels lost six times (17-6) all of last season and earned himself a six-year, $144 million contract extension last July. Does Hamels fall into the category of wasted money? Heck no, but he may just need to ventilate with the veteran hitters.

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee tried pin-pointing the problem.

"I think it's a lot of tight ballgames, his contract," Dubee said. "He's an accountable guy just like Doc (Roy Halladay). He's probably one of the bigger faces of the Phillies, and he wants to be accountable for that, and not winning probably weighs on him, and I think losing Doc weighs on him. We're down one of our aces and I think that's weighed on him. Again, this is an accountable guy who wants to win."

To Hamels' credit, if there is any, Ryan Howard missed Monday's game with a balky knee. Would that have made a difference? Probably not, because he has two RBI over his last nine games. You read that right, too: two RBI.

Hamels and Cliff Lee are the remaining aces Dubee was alluding to. Kyle Kendrick is having a promising season and there's not much to build a winner after him. Young arms Jonathan Pettibone and Tyler Cloyd are the spackle to a rotation that has more holes than the Phillies' bats when Hamels gets the nod.

The left-handed Hamels hasn't pitched with a lead in 44 days and Philadelphia is 1-9 when he takes the hill. As far as Hamels' frustration is concerned, it has to be draining to pitch six innings and allow only two runs and no walks with a season-high 10 strikeouts and not win. That was his line against a Marlins team that is one of the worst in the major leagues. Hamels entered the night with 13 walks in his previous four outings.

The Phillies have scored one run or none five times with Hamels starting and in games when the offense produces three or more, the southpaw is 1-4.

"He needs some runs," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. "He needs to pitch with a lead sometime and have room to breathe and room if he makes a mistake. Yeah, that's a concern of mine, but I don't know what we're going to do about it."

Would replacing Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner as hitting coaches make a difference? A change in that department doesn't mean the bats will all of a sudden come alive. Howard will still be Howard, striking out often and missing on several breaking balls. The other big bats of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young and Domonic Brown won't turn the Phillies' offensive woes into a cavalcade of runs if someone else is instructing ways to hit.

"We have Jimmy Rollins. Brown is improving. We have some spots where if we get going we might be able to muster some offense. Hopefully that's what will happen," Manuel said. "We're so inconsistent. When your team is hitting .245, you're inconsistent. That's inconsistent. That's the bottom line."

The only solution for Hamels' misfortunes is to keep pitching the way he has been: hitting the corners, keeping walks down and strikeouts high and not to lose his cool. Think back to when a younger Hamels used to display his frustration on the mound for the whole stadium and televised audience to see. He hasn't behaved like that in years and, hopefully, it remains that way.

It's obvious Hamels is not very thrilled right now and just wants to win. You can't slight him for that.

Philadelphia is slated to send Hamels out again Sunday against the Washington Nationals, a team he has dominated in the past. In 24 career starts against the NL East-rival Nationals, Hamels is 13-5 with a 2.57 ERA over 157 1/3 innings.

The Phillies have yet to play the Nationals this season and averaged almost five runs (4.75) per game in Hamels' four starts against them last season. The chances of repeating that effort seem bleak since the Phillies are 23rd in the majors with a .244 batting average, 24th in homers (38), 27th with 157 runs scored and 28th in RBI (147).

Taking advice from Brown could alter the plan and get Hamels smiling again.

"It's May. It's time to get going," Brown said.