3 Cole Hamels Games That Define His Phillies Career

Phillies Cole Hamels
30 June 2015: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) winds up to pitch during the MLB game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Philadelphia Phillies played at the Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA

Friday Night the Phillies honored Cole Hamels’s retirement from Major League Baseball before their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hamels, a franchise legend, was the backbone of the 2008 World Series championship team and an integral part of the 2007-2011 run in Phillies’ history. Hamels was a first-round draft choice by the Phillies and made his Major League debut with the club in May of 2006.

Hameles spent 10 seasons in a Phillies uniform. Across that span, he pitched to a 114-90 record, with a 3.30 earned run average, and 2560 strikeouts. He was the 2008 World Series MVP, NLCS MVP, a 3-time All-Star, and finished in the top 8 of Cy Young Voting 3 times. 

There were countless moments in Cole’s tenure with the Phillies but these three occurrences help summarize the kind of player he was.

3. Hamels’ Debut

Most fans probably didn’t expect to be watching a World Series MVP when Cole Hamels took the mound for the first time on May 12, 2006. 

At just 22 years of age, the former first-round pick would make his debut in a rainy matchup in Cincinnati. Being from San Diego, I would feel as though Cole probably did not have to deal with rain in many of his outings growing up. Hamels would go 5 innings that afternoon, allowing just 1 hit, walking 5, and striking out 7.

His first MLB strikeout would come in the first inning to Felipe Lopez. The next batter, future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., would suffer the same fate.

This would be just the start for a young lefty from California but the Hollywood Hamels mantra would carry with him the rest of the way. Not every day does a 22-year-old get called up to the big leagues and for the few that do, they don’t always shine. Cole was different and he proved that to be the case. He kept growing as a pitcher and a ballplayer, eventually evolving into the ace we would soon thereafter witness.

2. The Goodbye

Fast forward nine years later to when Cole Hamels would put the Phillies’ uniform on for the final time.

In 2015, the Phillies were at the end of what had been one of their best stretches in franchise history. The players that hosted the 2008 World Series trophy were few and far between at this point. Cole Hamels was still dealing however and he was a lone bright spot on a team that was destined for the cellar in the NL East. 

Rumors were flying everywhere about potential landing spots for Cole as it seemed like a guarantee that he would be traded. Taking the ball at Wrigley Field, nobody could have expected the performance to follow. 

Hamels was dealing, plowing through the 2015 Cubs lineup. A club that would go on to win the World Series one year later. The veteran southpaw saddled up with his battery mate Carlos Ruiz for the last time, dotting the corners, and leaving the Chicago bats’ quiet.

Around the 7th inning, the buzz began at Wrigley Field. A historic venue for a historic performance. Hamels continued his dominance, working through the home lineup that featured Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber. 

Unlike most of his outings, the Phillies offense provided their starter with run support. The team scored five runs against Jake Arrieta, who would go on to win the NL Cy Young award. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Hamels would retire the Cubs in order to clinch his no-hitter. Everyone remembers the infamous Odubel Herrera catch to seal the deal. The final out was Kris Bryant, whose fly ball to center field made everyone think he had hit a home run to end the no-hitter.

The Phillies would embrace around their ace on the mound. The Chicago faithful would give him a standing ovation and the Cubs’ players showed their respect as well. This was the last time Cole Hamels would pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies and it was the perfect sendoff.

He would be traded a few days later to the Texas Rangers and the Phillies rebuild was in full swing.

1. Hollywood

The 2008 run was magical for many reasons for the Phillies. 

The pinnacle of that stretch was of course ended with winning the World Series but in order to seize the moment, the Phillies need their best from their young ace. Cole Hamels delivered on that request, proving why the nickname “Hollywood” was fitting.

Hamels was dominant in all of his playoff starts but the one that sticks out is Game 5 of the NLCS. In Los Angeles against the Dodgers, Hamels took the mound to try and send the club to their first World Series since 1993.

Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a solo home run, giving the Phillies a lead they would never surrender. Cole was lights-out, throwing 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, and 1 earned run while striking out 5. A solo home run to Manny Ramirez was the only time a Dodger touched home and not the worst opponent to beat you in a post-season game.

Hamels set the stage for Ryan Madison, who shut the door in the 8th. This of course allowed a perfect Brad Lidge to enter the game, sealing another ballgame for the Phillies.

It was their first pennant in 15 years and a chance to win their first title since 1980. I think we all know how that World Series would play out. 

Photo Credit: Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire