PHILADELPHIA – Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels didn't blame the cold Tuesday night.
He didn't blame the rain.
He blamed himself.
Hamels struggled in adverse conditions as the New York Mets beat the Phillies 6-1 before an announced crowd of 28,189 fans at Citizens Bank Park.
Hamels, making his first home start since returning from a shoulder injury, allowed six runs and eight hits in 4.2 innings. Hamels walked five and hit a batter. He threw 106 pitches – just 55 for strikes. Hamels even walked Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese with the bases loaded to force in a run.
"Sometimes you have to battle the elements and the elements definitely got the best of me," Hamels said. "It was a very poor performance. From my standpoint, I'm truly embarrassed. Throwing 50-something balls - I don't do that."
While Hamels floundered, Niese pitched like it was 75 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Niese allowed a run in seven innings.
Rain delayed the start of the game by 1 hour, 27 minutes. The game started at 8:32 p.m. with a game-time temperature of 46 degrees. Few fans were left in the stands when the game ended near 11:30 p.m.
The contest began a two-game series with the National League East rivals that concludes at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. Both the Mets (15-11) and Phillies (13-13) are off to solid starts.
The game was also the first of a seven-game home stand for the Phillies, who just completed a 6-4 road trip against NL West teams.
Hamels, however, couldn’t sustain the momentum created by the successful trip.
Hamels troubles peaked in the fourth inning, where he threw 37 pitches – just 15 of them for strikes. At one point in the inning, Hamels walked four out of five batters he faced, including one with the bases-loaded to force in a run.
Hamels erratic performance came against one of the National League’s most anemic offenses. The Mets entered the contest with a .218 team batting average – last in the 15-team NL.
"I didn't even give us a chance because balls weren't being put in play," Hamels said. "The game that I went out there and pitched is not the type of game I like to credit myself on. Playing teams in your division, you want to win especially starting a series.
"You have to move on and this is a game you don't want to remember."
Niese (2-2, 2.20 ERA) didn’t let the conditions phase him. He held the Phillies hitless through three innings.
Philadelphia’s Marlon Byrd broke up the no-hitter and the shutout with a solo home run in the fourth inning that cut the Mets lead to 3-1.
The Phillies would get no closer. Ryan Howard (2-for-4) was the only Phillies batter with more than one hit.
"We did hit some balls hard right out of the gate," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "But we didn't get any base runners from that. Niese took that and ran with it and really settled in."
Hamels did keep his sense of humor. New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from a game last week and suspended for 10 games for having pine tar on his next against the Boston Red Sox last week. Pineda said the pine tar helped him grip the ball in cold weather.
"Tuesday might have been the day to use pine tar," Hamels said with a small laugh. "But unfortunately I don't do that. Today might have been the day to learn."