NEW YORK - On Sunday, for the second time in 13 days, Cole Hamels will meet the Mets. It is a scheduling quirk that presents one more chance for the Phillies lefthander to solve a team that has bothered him more than any other National League squad.
The Mets whacked him for six runs in 4 2/3 innings at Citizens Bank Park on April 29. Hamels called that start "embarrassing." It pushed his career ERA against New York to 4.65 in 27 starts.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he did not detect anything distinctive about the Mets' approach when facing Hamels that makes it such a challenge for his starter.
"Well, you'd think the lineup would have changed a little bit year-for-year," Sandberg said. "Maybe it's not about the lineup."
That is true; a pitcher's history against a specific team can be somewhat misleading. But current Mets hitters have a .300 batting average and .811 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 265 plate appearances against Hamels. David Wright and Daniel Murphy are the most successful; Eric Young and Juan Lagares have big numbers in smaller sample sizes.
Hamels' numbers against New York, when reduced to the last four seasons, are even worse. He has a 5.42 ERA in 14 starts since 2011.
"It's also a game of things evening out, so maybe it goes in the other direction," he said. "You never know."
Hamels has a 7.02 ERA through three starts this year. It was 7.56 after three starts in 2013, and Hamels finished with a 3.60 mark.
Jonathan Papelbon needed just seven pitches - all strikes - to record his 10th save in the 3-2 win Friday. That extended the closer's scoreless streak, which began April 5, to 13 innings
Papelbon, oddly enough, enjoyed a similar streak at the same point in 2013. He pitched 182/3 scoreless innings from April 4 to May 28 with 15 strikeouts and two walks. His ERA in his next 42 innings was 3.86.
His career-long scoreless period is 22 innings while with Boston in 2011.