Matthew Pouliot

hamels

Cole Hamels gives Phillies fans a big going-away present

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That was probably it for Cole Hamels in a Phillies uniform. Just a nice little no-hitter in his 294th start for the team. A fond memory for fans who will have few others in a dreadful 2015 season.

Some suggested going in that this was the Phillies’ biggest game of the year. The one that determined just how big of a haul they might get in a Hamels trade with the left-hander coming off two of the worst starts of his career. It was an extreme exaggeration; suitors know Hamels’ track record and were only really concerned about whether he was healthy. Even in the lousy outings, there seemed little reason to doubt it.

So, no, Hamels’ performance didn’t do a whole lot for the Phillies, who are well on their way to claiming the first pick in the 2016 MLB draft. But it was a grand send-off, assuming that Hamels doesn’t return to the mound before Friday’s deadline. The only bummer is that the start came in Chicago, not Philadelphia.

Hamels, who struck out 13 in the first career no-no, improved to 6-7 with a 3.64 ERA for the season. He’s just 23-30 since the Phillies started to bottom out in 2013. Even when the Phillies have scored runs these last three years, they haven’t done it with Hamels on the mound. Hamels has turned in 63 quality starts in 83 tries since the beginning of 2013 (only Clayton Kershaw (68), Felix Hernandez (64) and James Shields (64) have more). He actually has more starts in which he’s allowed one or no runs (28) than he does wins during that span.

In a week’s time, Hamels figures to find himself in a Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees or Rangers uniform. Or maybe he’ll join the Cubs team he no-hit today. He’ll depart Philadelphia as one of the franchise’s top five pitchers, and at least now, those last couple of years he spent with the team won’t totally be remembered for all of the doom and gloom.

Robinson Cano hits two homers to lead Mariners past Yankees

Robinson Cano
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Robinson Cano hit his fifth and sixth homers of the last month, both two-run shots, to power the Mariners to a 4-3 win over the Yankees on Saturday.

The homers were Cano’s first two at Yankee Stadium as a visitor. Including Friday’s 0-for-4, he had hit .225/.295/.350 with one homer in 10 games versus the Yankees since signing with the Mariners as a free agent after the 2013 season.

It was also Cano’s first multihomer game as a Mariner.

Cano has had a very difficult year while dealing with acid reflux problems, but he’s turned it around pretty nicely in the last month. After hitting just two homers through June 21, he’s hit six in the 21 games since. His batting average has jumped from .237 to .254 over the last month.

Nationals beat Dodgers after suspended game resumes

Yunel Escobar, Tanner Roark
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It was a rather exciting contest for one that took two days to play, but the Nationals held on to beat the Dodgers 5-3 after Friday night’s game resumed Saturday afternoon.

In the top of the ninth, Joc Pederson barely pulled foul his bid for a go-ahead, three-run homer before Drew Storen closed it out.

Pinch-hitter Matt den Dekker hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to give the Nationals back their lead after Adrian Gonzalez hit his second homer of the game and first of the day in the top of the sixth, tying the game at 3-3.

The game last night was halted three times because of issues with a bank of lights down the left-field line, forcing play to be resumed today.

Both pitchers on the mound when play ended Friday continued on today. Tanner Roark gave up Gonzalez’s game-tying homer in the sixth. Chin-Hui Tsao allowed two runs in the fifth last night, but he pitched a scoreless sixth today.

The Dodgers and Nationals will play their regularly scheduled game at 4:05 EDT. They’ll both be able to add a 26th player for that one as a result of the semi-doubleheader today.

Reds only hurting themselves batting Billy Hamilton ninth

Billy Hamilton, Josh Harrison
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At what point does speed outweigh a lousy OBP?

Joe Morgan was fond of saying that speed was the No. 1 factor in searching for a leadoff hitter. Statheads used to believe that OBP was everything, that it made far more sense to put a slow guy with a big OBP in the leadoff spot than a fast guy who didn’t get on base.

Billy Hamilton pretty much sucks at getting on base. But he’s so ridiculously good when he does get on that he’s a viable leadoff hitter anyway.

Hamilton has hit leadoff for the Reds 36 times this year and scored 27 runs in those games. Brandon Phillips, though, has been leading off while healthy these last seven weeks. He’s scored 19 runs in 37 games leading off.

Of course, that’s not really a valid test of speed versus OBP. Oddly enough, both have .280 OBPs in their time batting leadoff. Both have also hit three homers as leadoff man, so that doesn’t really factor in. And while Phillips isn’t quite a burner these days, he’s actually gone 6-for-7 stealing bases from the leadoff spot.

The run totals, even if they’re a bit fluky, suggest that Hamilton should be leading off for the Reds. His .280 OBP is probably worth about the same there as a .330 mark from a merely decent runner. He wouldn’t continue scoring three runs every four games if returned to the spot, but then, who does? Mike Trout and Brian Dozier currently lead the majors in runs scored (largely because they have 27 and 20 homers, respectively) and they’re barely better than that (.775 runs scored per game).

And the Reds’ alternatives simply aren’t any good. Phillips has never been an on-base guy, and the other four guys to have opened a game in the leadoff spot for the Reds this year (Zack Cozart, Skip Schumaker, Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Kris Negron) have posted even worse OBPs. Plus, Joey Votto has thrived on those occasions in which he’s hit second behind Hamilton. Unless the Reds somehow come up with a viable option in one of their upcoming trades involving Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake or Jay Bruce, Hamilton is going to be their best option at the top the rest of the way.

Anthony Rendon joins Jayson Werth on rehab assignment

Anthony Rendon
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The first-place Nationals could have two of their better bats back in the lineup next week. Both Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth are set to play rehab games for Single-A Potomac on Saturday.

Rendon has been out since June 25 with a strained left quad. So as to tread more carefully with the injury, the Nationals intend to have him play third base initially on the rehab assignment, even though they’d prefer to use him at second base in the majors.

Werth, who is coming back from a broken wrist, started playing for Potomac on Thursday and will play his third straight game today. He went 1-for-5 the last two days, starting in left field Thursday and DH last night.

Both Rendon and Werth also opened the season on the disabled list for the Nationals before returning for brief stints; Rendon has played 18 games in the majors this year, compared to 27 for Werth. Danny Espinosa has been pretty terrific in picking up the slack for Rendon. However, Nationals left fielders have largely struggled in Werth’s absence.