Cole Hamels throws a no-hitter at Wrigley Field against the Cubs

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Update #3 (6:43 PM EST): Hamels finished off his no-hitter, getting Addison Russell to ground out, struck out Dexter Fowler, then with a full count got Kris Bryant to fly out to Odubel Herrera in center field — making a ridiculous catch — on his 129th pitch of the afternoon.

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Update #2 (6:26 PM EST): The Phillies tacked on two runs in the top of the eighth on a little league home run, pushing their lead to 5-0. Hamels doubled but was stranded. He went back out to the mound and brought his no-hitter into the ninth. He retired Starlin Castro and David Ross on fly balls (Odubel Herrera made a spectacular catch in left-center on the fly ball hit by Ross), then Schwarber grounded back to Hamels for a 1-3 putout. He’s thrown 112 pitches.

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Update (6:06 PM EST): Hamels struck out the side in the seventh, retiring Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, and Chris Denorfia on strikes to carry his no-hitter into the eighth inning. He now has 12 strikeouts and has thrown 99 pitches.

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Phillies starter Cole Hamels, making what could be his final start for the team that drafted him, is absolutely dealing at Wrigley Field against the Cubs this Saturday evening. The lefty has yet to allow a hit through six innings. The only blemishes on his record are two walks: to Dexter Fowler to lead off the game and to Fowler again with two outs in the sixth. Hamels has struck out nine while throwing 85 pitches.

The Phillies gave Hamels three runs of support on a Ryan Howard three-run home run off of Jake Arrieta in the third inning.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark quoted an unnamed baseball executive on Friday, who said that Hamels’ start against the Cubs could be his most important for the Ruben Amaro , Jr. administration, despite having pitched in the World Series for the club in 2009. The Phillies are rebuilding and Hamels is by far the team’s most valuable trade asset.

Hamels entered the start with a 3.91 ERA and a 124/37 K/BB ratio in 119 2/3 innings.

We’ll keep you updated as Hamels attempts to keep the Cubs hitless over the final three innings. Hamels has never officially thrown a no-hitter, but was the starter on September 1 in Atlanta against the Braves last year when he banded together with Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Jonathan Papelbon to toss a combined no-hitter. The Cubs have baseball’s longest active streak of not being no-hit at 7,931 games, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax tossed a perfect game against them on September 9, 1965.

Report: Some MLB teams using outside labs for COVID-19 testing

MLB COVID-19 testing
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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.

The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.

In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.

The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.

We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.