"It felt like five minutes," Hammel said of his dash. "I thought I was flying, and then I watched the video. I felt everything was moving really fast, and it wasn't. I needed an oxygen tank after that."
He needed a couple more runs, too, but didn't get them as the Cubs dropped a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Reds at Wrigley Field. Hammel needed 37 pitches to get through a three-run first inning.
"Especially with Cueto on the mound, I can't spot a team like that three runs early and expect to come out and make it an easy one," Hammel said. "I thought, overall, the bullpen was awesome to cover four innings like that. It was nice that we still battled and had a chance."
In his 11 previous starts, Hammel had given up two runs total in the first inning. The Reds took advantage of an error by second baseman Russell, who couldn't get his glove on leadoff man Skip Schumaker's grounder. Schumaker eventually scored on Ivan De Jesus Jr.'s double, and he tallied on Todd Frazier's double.
"I was just out of sync today," Hammel said. "I wasn't on top of the baseball like I have been, and it cost me a lot of deep counts and basically I battled for five innings. The fact we had a chance to still be in it and win was nice because it could've been a lot worse."
Hammel's five-inning outing matched his shortest start of the season.
"He wasn't on top of his game today, and that happens to every starting pitcher," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Hammel did come through in the fourth. The Reds had loaded the bases with two outs and Maddon had Hammel intentionally walk Joey Votto to face Frazier, who had hit a solo home run in the third as well as his RBI double in the first. Hammel came through, throwing five straight sliders, and struck out Frazier to end the threat.
"I'm relying on him to make a pitch there and he did," Maddon said.