Hammel strikes out career-high 11 in stellar outing
Manager Maddon appreciates righty's ability to readjust
By Steve Wilaj
MIAMI -- In the clubhouse following Chicago's 5-1 victory in the series opener at Marlins Park on Monday, Cubs starter Jason Hammel and manager Joe Maddon had a quick discussion when they crossed paths as Maddon made his way to his postgame meal.
It was a brief chat about the righty's stellar outing of allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings while striking out a career-high 11 batters on 117 pitches.
"I told him that I didn't know I threw that many pitches," Hammel said. "He said, 'You looked better there at the end than you did at the beginning. That's why I left you out there for so long.'"
The 32-year-old struck out five of the first eight Marlins batters through the first three innings. His lone earned run came in the fourth inning, when Giancarlo Stanton stole third and scored on an errant throw. In all, Hammel (4-2, 2.82 ERA) threw 80 pitches for strikes.
"We changed speeds pretty well early today," Hammel said. "With [Miami], they're an early fastball-hitting team. So we kind of pitched backwards the first few innings, and it opened up the fastball for later.
"With my success, I had to learn after a while that if you walk guys and put guys on, you're putting yourself in trouble," Hammel said. "So I found success in the strike zone instead of outside the strike zone."
Hammel's previous high for strikeouts in a game was 10, which he accomplished three times in his career. The last time came on June 22, 2012, against the Nationals. With 11 strikeouts on Monday, he has now struck out 28 in his past three starts and 42 in his past five outings.
Maddon said he likes the change in Hammel's demeanor compared to years past.
"The thing is, he's able to readjust after he's made a couple of bad pitches," he said. "Historically, when I've seen him in the past, he'd get on that bad run -- maybe six to eight balls in a row and a couple walks -- and hasn't been able to right himself. Now, he's able to go 2-0, and I see him go back there and take that breath and get back on the rubber and make a good pitch."
Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.