Manager Jeff Banister said Hamels was as sharp as he has been since he joined the team, and Hamels said his stuff might have been better than in any of his previous eight starts with Texas.
"I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes at any time in the count. And I think that's kind of what it was, just having the confidence that everything has been able to work over the past couple of weeks," Hamels said.
Perhaps it helped Hamels that it was the fourth time he had faced the Mariners in the past seven weeks. Hamels has thrown a total of 27 innings in those four starts against Seattle, allowing 12 earned runs for a 4.00 ERA.
"Once you face a team enough, you need to then throw all of your pitches," Hamels said. "When you gain experience against guys and you're starting to get enough appearances against certain hitters, then you can try to find their holes, and then it's all about establishing the right pitches at the right time and executing the pitches. I felt like today I was finally able to execute the right pitches more times than not."
Hamels never let himself get into trouble and be the victim of a multirun inning, unlike the first three starts against Seattle. The only run he allowed Saturday was a Franklin Gutierrez homer in the second inning.
"The past couple games I've had against them, I've had those few innings where I've really left pitches up and not gotten away with anything and really created a big inning for them," Hamels said. "I just think that [catcher] Chris [Gimenez] and I had a really good game plan."
Hamels' 12 strikeouts were the most by a Rangers pitcher since Yu Darvish fanned 12 in July last season. Hamels was the first Rangers pitcher to strike out 12 and walk none since Darvish in August 2013.
Hamels is 3-1 with an 3.73 ERA since the July 31 trade, which at the time appeared to be as much about 2016-18 as the rest of 2015, because the Rangers were a sub-.500, third-place team that seemed to have a scant chance of making the postseason.
General manager Jon Daniels said when he made the deal that he thought Hamels could help his team make an improbable run to the postseason, though, and that grows more possible every day. Though bringing Hamels in wasn't purely about having a "rental pitcher" for a playoff push, the move has paid immediate dividends.
"It excited our players, gave them the thought process and gave them the extra push that our front office and the organization believed in the core groups of guys that we have in that clubhouse and the combination of players that we have, that they felt like getting a guy like Cole Hamels could help put us in a situation and do what we're doing right now," Banister said.
Hamels' next start will be the first game of the Rangers' all-important three-game series against the second-place Astros in Houston on Friday. Hamels started the opener of the series against the Astros on Monday and set the tone for a four-game sweep with a seven-inning, three-run effort.
Hamels also helped the Rangers on Saturday by being a stopper and not letting the Rangers begin a losing streak after a Friday defeat.
"You want to be able to keep rolling, every five games for myself, but obviously setting the table for the next starter," Hamels said. "We're able to feed off each other. I think that's been the exciting part."