PHOENIX - The home runs against Cole Hamels came in bunches - four in a span of seven batters Friday night.
It's not that Hamels was tentative with his pitches after allowing the first home run, Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Saturday. In fact, it's the opposite.
"I think sometimes he gets a little revved up," Dubee said. "This guy is a perfectionist. He's handled adversity much better than he did last year. Are there going to be times when he steps back? Of course. Everybody does."
Given a day to step back and analyze Hamels' quick descent into ineffectiveness, Dubee saw a problem that has bothered Hamels for some time: His arm angle was inconsistent.
"He had five ground-ball outs the whole night; four of them were in the first three innings," Dubee said. "He had a tremendous angle in the beginning, and then all of a sudden he got flat."
That's when the ball started flying out of the park.
After four starts in 2010, Hamels is 2-2 with a 5.11 ERA. He leads the majors with seven home runs allowed. His next start comes Wednesday in San Francisco against Tim Lincecum and the Giants.
What has encouraged Dubee, though, is that for the most part, Hamels has shown the ability to bury his fastball in the lower portion of the strike zone. In 2010, Hamels has a higher ground-ball rate than he had in 2009. His fly-ball rate is lower, but 25.9 percent of the fly balls have gone for home runs - nearly double his career rate.
Dubee believes that consistency will come around.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with him," the coach said. "It's execution. It's called the game of baseball. Throw the ball down in the zone, throw with an angle and change speeds, and you've got a chance to get people out. Throw the ball flat-planed, elevate it, and you're going to have some bad nights. I don't know a guy who's been on the mound who hasn't had one of those. If there is, I want to see him."
Jimmy Rollins overheard a question to his locker mate, lefthander J.C. Romero, and interjected. Rollins, on the disabled list with a strained calf, has a different perspective from the dugout.
"I saw J.C. out there, and he didn't look like the normal J.C.," Rollins said.
Romero concurred. He faced two batters Friday night and allowed a home run and a walk. He summed up his first appearance of the 2010 season with three words:
Alive. Weird. Mad.
Why weird? Before Friday, Romero had pitched just one inning in the majors since July 19, 2009. He's finally healthy, so he felt alive. And mad, well, that has to do with the results on the field.
"I came into the dugout numb," Romero said. "Not my arm, but my head. It was a different feeling."
He allowed a home run to a lefthander, Kelly Johnson, on a 3-2 count. Then he walked another lefty, Stephen Drew, on four pitches. Romero said his surgically repaired elbow felt fine Saturday.
It's just about getting used to seeing big-league hitters again.
"It's the first time he's pitched since last year," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I just want to get him out there to face hitters."
Rollins said he hoped to begin a jogging program Monday in San Francisco. He has continued to play catch and hit, but the big test for the shortstop's injured calf will come in his running and fielding. . . . Righthander Brad Lidge will make his next rehabilitation appearance Monday at double-A Reading. Dubee said he wants to see better command on Lidge's fastball.