Pete Mackanin thinks trade rumors are affecting Cole Hamels

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Cole Hamels was blasted for a career-high nine runs and 12 hits over 3 1/3 innings Friday in a loss to the Giants. The final blow was a grand slam by Hunter Pence in an eight-run fourth inning. It was Hamels’ shortest start since 2011.

With trade rumors swirling, Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin told Alex Espinosa of CSNPhilly.com that he thinks the constant speculation is weighing on Hamels.

“I can’t remember a time where I’ve seen him pitch like that,” Mackanin said, adding that Hamels had trouble controlling his secondary pitches. “There’s a lot going on and it affected him. But I know he’s much better than that. Who knows, he might pressing knowing that the trading deadline is coming around. There’s so many little things that players think about that you can’t control.”

Hamels stopped short of confirming what Mackanin said, but he acknowledged that this season has been a major challenge.

“It’s not a year that you can ever prepare for,” Hamels said. “No amount of experience can put you into that sort of situation. My job is to be able to go throw the baseball and do it as best I possibly can, and the way I know I’m capable of doing.

“But you do have a lot of things that are out of your control. So, you have to realize that you can’t make it something you can control. There are a lot of different variables that are going on.”

Hamels’ ERA jumped from 3.02 to 3.63 with last night’s clunker, so he has been pitching really well despite the constant speculation about his future. The 31-year-old has struck out 25.1 percent of the batters he has faced this season, which is the best mark of his career. Still, he’s not a robot. The lack of run support gives him very little margin for error and he’d surely prefer to be dealt to a contender sooner rather than later. It’s a tough spot.

Things have been pretty quiet on the trade front in recent days, but look for that to pick up in a big way as we move closer to July 31.

Video: Cubs score run on Pirates’ appeal throw

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2019 has been one long nightmare for the Pirates. They’re in last place in the NL Central, have had multiple clubhouse fights, and can’t stop getting into bench-clearing incidents. The embarrassment continued on Sunday as the club lost 16-6 to the Cubs, suffering a three-game series sweep in Chicago.

One of those 16 runs the Pirates allowed was particularly noteworthy. In the bottom of the third inning, with the game tied at 5-5, the Cubs had runners on first and second with two outs. Tony Kemp hit a triple to right field, allowing both Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to score to make it 7-5. The Pirates thought one of the Cubs’ base runners didn’t touch third base on their way home. Reliever Michael Feliz attempted to make an appeal throw to third base, but it was way too high for Erik González to catch, so Kemp scored easily on the error.

The Pirates lost Friday’s game to the Cubs 17-8 and Saturday’s game 14-1. They were outscored 47-15 in the three-game series. According to Baseball Reference, since 1908, the Pirates never allowed 14+ runs in three consecutive games and only did it two games in a row twice before this series, in 1949 and in 1950. The Cubs scored 14+ in three consecutive games just one other time, in 1930.