That offering was the one sneaky Indians leadoff hitter Grady Sizemore turned into a bunt single past Hamels, rattling the typically unflappable lefty. Three unsuccessful pickoff attempts later, Sizemore stole second, went to third on a single and scored on a groundout.
It would be the first of six runs Hamels allowed in his shortest outing of the season, as the Phillies dropped a 10-1 game to the Indians on Monday night at Jacobs Field.
And it all started with pitch No. 1.
"That's true," Hamels said. "That definitely was something I didn't expect. With the leadoff hitter, I expected him to at least see a couple of pitches. That's the way he plays. For me, throwing over a few times, I was completely off rhythm. It's hard to attack a hitter when you're playing footsies with the guy at first base."
There were plenty of footsies running and jogging around the bases on Monday, and only one pair of them was wearing red cleats. That would be Ryan Howard, who homered in the sixth to account for the Phillies' lone run. The Phillies had some chances against Indians starter Cliff Lee -- like in the fifth with the bases loaded -- but Shane Victorino lined to first base, slamming his helmet down in disgust.
That said it all.
"We had a couple of chances," manager Charlie Manuel said. "But we came out flat, too."
Despite perceived greatness in every start, Hamels got tagged early. After a two-run first, Hamels began the second by allowing a single to Jason Michaels. He struck out Ryan Garko, but allowed another single to Franklin Gutierrez.
Kelly Shoppach then homered -- on a changeup.
"I thought I executed it pretty well, but I don't think I set him up well enough for it," Hamels said. "I thought I threw a lot of strikes. They were just hitting them."
Hamels struggled through five innings, allowing six runs on eight hits. It was his shortest outing since Aug. 24, 2006, when he surrendered nine runs in two innings against the Cubs.
In that outing, Hamels couldn't find a grip on his deadly changeup because he cut his left index finger a few days earlier. On Monday, he simply threw bad pitches, save for a few fastballs. He especially couldn't throw it inside.
"Every time he goes out there, I expect us to win, but he's going to have games like that, too," Manuel said.
The manager also suggested that Cleveland's abundance of former Phillies may have contributed to his starter's downfall, namely David Dellucci and Aaron Fultz.
It's probably nothing, right?
"It didn't seem like they were fooled too much," Victorino said. "They either got something ... they were on everything. Everyone is due. He's human."
The unfriendly start to a six-game road trip through Cleveland and St. Louis sent the Phillies three games behind the victorious Mets in the National League East. The Phillies also continued to struggle against southpaws, falling to 9-17.
Geoff Geary gave up four more runs in the sixth and continued a slide that began in mid-May. The righty had a 1.50 ERA on May 11, but has a 9.64 ERA in 15 appearances since, having allowed 15 earned runs in 14 innings.
Howard delivered a home run for Philadelphia's only strike against Lee (4-4). Despite entering the game with a 6.04 ERA, the lefty allowed five hits in seven innings and lowered his ERA to 5.46.
Still, Hamels blames himself for the loss.
"It [ticks] me off," Hamels said. "The main thing is to go out and put the team in a spot where they can win. If you go out there and give up five runs in the first two innings, that's not doing yourself a good cause, or the team. It's frustrating, but you can't let it affect the next game."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less