On Saturday at Wrigley Field, Hamels took it to a new level, throwing a no-hitter in the Phillies' 5-0 victory over the Cubs and Maddon in front of 41,683 who can say they witnessed history. The game marked the first time the Cubs have been no-hit since Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965, at Dodger Stadium. The Cubs had gone 7,920 games and 49 full seasons without being no-hit, both the longest stretches in Major League history. It was the first no-hitter at Wrigley since Milt Pappas did it on Sept. 2, 1972.
"He was great today," Cubs starter Jake Arrieta said. "We couldn't really get anything going against him. We had several guys with good at-bats, but he had everything working. His breaking ball was really good, his changeup. ... Cole was special today."
It may have been Hamels' last start for the Phillies. Several teams, including the Cubs, are reportedly interested in acquiring the left-hander prior to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"He definitely increased his value, I would imagine," Maddon said. "You're going to get that higher-tier prospect because of that performance today. He was really good. He is really good."
Hamels didn't look sharp in his two previous outings, which the Cubs players watched to prepare for Saturday. The lefty's changeup was 84 mph in those games, his fastball in the low 90s. On Saturday, Hamels' velocity was up; he was hitting 88 mph on his change and 94-96 mph on his fastball.
"He's Cole Hamels -- he is who he is," Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "I've never faced him before, and just looking at the video, I know his last two starts weren't very good. He just had a lot going today. His velocity was there -- 95 [mph] when he wanted it. The cutter, his changeup, the curveball, he mixed it up really well."
Said Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro: "He was nasty today."
Maddon had praised Hamels' changeup 24 hours before seeing it live. It was even better on Saturday, but Maddon said the key was the lefty's fastball command.
"If he had not been able to get his fastball where he wanted, then the changeup and curve would not have been as good of a pitch," Maddon said. "All of a sudden, he found that velocity. I saw a lot of 94s on the gun today. From what I'd been told and had been reading, it had not been there as often as it was today."
Dexter Fowler drew two walks off Hamels, including one leading off the first.
"I saw him well, but at the end of the day, he made some pitches that he needed to, and he did what he did," Fowler said. "I've faced him quite a bit, and this is probably the sharpest I've seen him. He was around the zone and he made his pitches."
Will a game like this be tough for the Cubs' young roster?
"It's a loss. That's what it is," Maddon said. "We didn't get any hits today. Nobody ever likes to be no-hit, but it is just a loss."
Maddon would know.
"I'm a professional at getting no-hit," Maddon said. "I've experienced four perfect games against, three as a manager, one as a coach, plus several no-hitters. Give the credit to [Hamels]. Don't denigrate our guys. Credit Cole Hamels today. He pitched that well."