COLE HAMELS was prophetic, if nothing else.
Just before reporting to spring training 2 months ago, the pitcher/walking human trade rumor was quoted about his possible desire to find a new baseball home with a contending team.
"I just want to win . . . And I know it's not going to happen here [with the Phillies]," Hamels said in a USA Today story in February.
Hamels did a fine job in backing up those infamous words on Opening Day, serving up four solo home runs and exiting after five innings in a forgettable, 8-0 defeat to the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park.
When yesterday's season opener came to a merciful end, Boston had more home runs (five) than the Phillies had hits (three). Both Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez homered twice.
Three of their four homers came off Hamels.
"It definitely didn't go the right way, the way we all envisioned [and] I know I'm one of the big culprits of that," said Hamels, who watched Pedroia launch his fifth pitch of the day into the leftfield seats. "When you put the team down 1-0 after the first inning, it's not really setting a good tone."
Hamels threw 64 pitches before his turn to bat came around in the batting order. He watched four of his pitches sail over the leftfield fence before his teammates could muster more than one hit.
Hamels needed 100 pitches to get through five innings.
"His command was not sharp," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "At all."
The Phillies' offense was MIA, a standard for Hamels' starts in the last 3 years. They scored three runs or fewer in 18 of his 30 starts last season, and two or fewer in 12 of those games. But Hamels, the futile Phillies' best hope in avoiding last place and 100 losses the longer he sticks around, wasn't much better.
Hamels fell behind in counts to five of the first nine hitters. He threw three consecutive pitches out of the strike zone to start his first matchup with Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, before saving face, literally, by catching a come-backer and stranding two runners, who had reached base via walks.
Hamels allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in five innings; he struck out six.
"He was throwing 94, he had his fastball," Sandberg said. "He just seemed to have long counts, they fouled off a lot of balls, extended at-bats . . . He really didn't get into a rhythm of getting ahead of the hitters and putting them away with his changeup or a spotted fastball. They got the counts back in hitters' counts. And if they were ahead in the count, they didn't miss any high fastballs."
This wasn't exactly unchartered territory for Hamels, who hasn't won his first start of a season since 2010. Home in particular has not been very sweet to Hamels in the last half decade. The 31-year-old lefthander has a 10.41 ERA in his first Citizens Bank Park starts in the last five seasons.
Hamels has allowed 27 earned runs on 37 hits while averaging just 4 2/3 innings per start in those games. The Phillies have lost all five of those games.
"I think it's just kind of the way it's gone," Hamels said. "It's nothing I'm trying to purposely do."
The good news for the folks in the front office that would still like to extract value for Hamels via trade in the coming months: The pitcher is a perennial slow starter who often kicks it into high gear come May.
Hamels is 14-16 with a 4.12 ERA in 38 career starts before May. But from May through July, he's 57-42 with a 3.37 ERA.
Last year, when he began the season on the disabled list, missing the first 3 weeks of the season, Hamels had a 7.02 ERA in his first three starts and then had a 1.76 ERA in his next 18 starts.
Yesterday, Hamels was down 1-0 after his fifth pitch. Pedroia would homer again off Hamels in the fifth, as would Ramirez.
Ramirez would later hit a grand slam off Jake Diekman - on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth inning.
Perhaps the most fitting of the five home runs off Hamels, however, was the one hit by the first batter on the first pitch of the third inning. It came courtesy of Mookie Betts, the athletic, second-year centerfielder whom the Red Sox have reportedly made off-limits in any trade talks.
Betts, Boston's leadoff hitter, nearly out-hit the Phillies: He finished 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Buchholz, meanwhile, held the home team hitless until Ryan Howard drilled a two-out double into the left-center gap in the fourth inning.
The Phillies didn't collect their second hit until the seventh inning.
"It was a nice day for Opening Day, a terrific crowd, all of the festivities," Sandberg said. "We couldn't carry that over into the game."
"It's a lot my fault," Hamels said. "It was definitely not what I was hoping for or what I was looking forward to doing. I just have to move past and prepare for the next game."