PHILADELPHIA -- For a fleeting moment Sunday night, Cole Hamels pictured himself the hero, and wondered how he might endure the celebratory beating that follows walk-off hits. Given a bat in the 11th inning and told to look for a fastball, Hamels stepped into the batter's box with runners on second and third and one out. He swung at Jason Johnson's first offering -- a curveball -- and popped weakly to second. "A pinch-hit walk-off hit would be absolutely amazing," Hamels said. "But in the cage, they don't throw curveballs at you. It was a good pitch against my approach, which was to swing at anything and everything that was around the plate. And I did that."More
One pitch later, Hamels forgot all about that at-bat, after Pedro Feliz stroked a fastball over the fence in left-center, earning the raucous party he momentarily pictured for himself. Feliz, who spent a month on the disabled list with a bulging disc in his back, did his best to avoid injury. "No, I tried to get out of there as soon as possible," the third baseman said. "I stepped on the plate and tried to get out. They got me." Feliz wisely took off his helmet. "If I had it on, I knew they were going for the top of my head," he said. Watching Feliz mobbed was fine with Hamels. "I now understand what it's like to be a pinch-hitter," Hamels said. "You're prepared for it, but you can't be ready for the actual situation until you're actually in it. I was a little kid in a big league game. I should have been in the Little League World Series instead of this one." Though he's paid to pitch, Hamels relishes opportunities to bat. With the game reaching extras, and bench players being used, it was only a matter of time before a pitcher would be called on to hit. That spot came when Chad Durbin's turn came up in the 11th inning. Third-base coach Steve Smith reminded Hamels to watch for the squeeze play, but manager Charlie Manuel let him swing. It was over in one pitch. "You don't want to put a bat in my hands to win a game," Hamels said. "Put the ball in my hands, but not the bat. Pitching is something I know I can do. I'm not known to hit. I'm the guy who gets bloopers or a first-pitch ambush, a first-, second-inning type deal when the pitcher's like, 'Whatever, I have six more innings to worry about.' I'd definitely rather be throwing it at the hitters."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less