Hamels' excellent effort goes unrewarded

Hamels' excellent effort goes unrewarded

PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Hamels is so aware of the situation he's in, he doesn't even feel a need to talk about it. He knows everybody understands.

On the day-to-day scale, Hamels is aware that he's almost always going to have to face an ace. In May alone, he's matched up against Matt Harvey, Francisco Liriano and Stephen Strasburg.

But even on the few days, like in Friday's 4-1 loss to the Rockies, when he isn't battling head-to-head against a big name, Opening Day-caliber starter, he runs into a hot arm like Chad Bettis, who tossed eight shutout innings where he allowed two hits and no walks, struck out seven and carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning.

"I think that's kind of the nature of the position I'm in," Hamels said. 

After a shaky first six starts in 2015 where he saw his ERA balloon to 4.14, he has since lasted seven innings or deeper in each of his last five starts, allowing just seven earned runs over that whole period with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 38:6, defeating Harvey, Liriano and Strasburg in the process.

"In order to be the best you have to play against the best and beat the best," Hamels said. "That's what I try to do every day."

Though he took the loss on Friday, Hamels was still well-above average, lasting eight innings for the second straight start and allowing just two runs on five hits and fanning nine. Both of the runs he allowed came courtesy of solo home runs by Troy Tulowitzki.

Sandberg on Hamels' start

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said after the game that he was proud of the way Hamels elevated his game versus a starter who was nearly perfect all night.

"I think he rises to the occasion like he does tonight," Sandberg said. "Other than Tulowitzki, I thought he pitched really well. He definitely had the opportunity to win the game with some runs anywhere in the game right until the end while he was in there, but I think he rises to that challenge."

Hamels agreed that the slugging shortstop got the best of him. Both of the home runs Hamels allowed came on fastballs, one of which Hamels said was in the right location and the other of which was not.

But despite that, he said he felt a strong rhythm with catcher Carlos Ruiz and just continued to do what he has been doing for most of May. And even amid the trade rumors that swirl over Hamels' head like buzzards, he said that's all he wants to do; he wants to control what he can control and pitch like he knows he can pitch.

"Everything that I go out and do is to be comfortable and try to justify that everything I'm doing is the right way and that there's not going to be anything holding me back and there's not going to be any questions about whether I had been able to do a little bit more or be a little bit better," Hamels said.

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.