FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In two Grapefruit League starts, one against the Yankees and another against the Red Sox, Cole Hamels has yet to allow an earned run and has given up just two hits in a combined six innings.
That's an accomplishment for any pitcher, even if it is only early March.
"I think it helps me get focused, knowing these guys are the best, having the Yankees, having Boston," Hamels said after Philadelphia's 2-0 win over Boston on Thursday. "These guys are really good. Even though they're working on some things, I think it just kind of prepares you for the season knowing that you're going to have to face some really good guys one through eight."
After a long bus ride to City of Palms Park, Hamels was perfect for the first two innings Thursday, and nothing was hit fair to the outfield off him until the third inning, when Mike Cameron led off with a double. That was the only hit Hamels allowed in the four-inning, 50-pitch effort (29 for strikes). Hamels walked one and struck out Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew.
"I think my changeup felt a lot better," Hamels said. "I was able to throw it where I wanted to. I got a lot of pulled foul balls. I think the cutter's coming along, it's just that mechanical feel, and once I'm able to really do that and repeat it over and over, I know it's going to do really well."
Hamels worked most of the offseason on arm strength, so he's focusing most this spring on making sure his mechanics are proper. That comes with repetition.
"I think that's just the hardest thing to do, is getting on the mound and throwing with hitters and not tipping your pitches and making sure every pitch your mechanics are fully sound," Hamels said.
Hamels was brilliant in the second half of last year, posting a 2.23 ERA. He's credited that change to an adjustment in his arm angle that subsequently let him keep the ball down in the zone more consistently.
Hamels is expected to throw 65-75 pitches in his next outing. He threw 33 pitches and allowed an earned run in two innings against the Yankees on Saturday.
Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.