Hamels In Control For Cubs In Win Against Angels

Cole Hamels pitched eight innings of one-run ball in his team's 5-1 victory.

Chris Emma
April 12, 2019 - 5:34 pm
Categories: 

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory for much of northwest Illinois, warning of gusts up to 45 miles per hour out of the southwest. At Wrigley Field, that means the wind is howling out to straightaway center field.

The conditions posed the threat of a miserable day for most pitchers, but not for Cubs veteran left-hander Cole Hamels. How did he plan on attacking Friday?

"I was seriously trying to hit a homer," Hamels deadpanned.

Related: Photos: Cubs 5, Angels 1

Hamels wasn't worried about the wind and threat of a long ball. He cruised through eight innings of one-run ball, helping his team to a 5-1 victory over the Angels on Friday afternoon. He followed the lead of teammate Jose Quintana the night before by pitching deep into the game, earning a win along the way.

For Hamels, success was as simple as mixing his fastball variations and a changeup, keeping the Angels lineup off balanced. As Hamels said, it was all about rhythm on the mound.

"Everything was working for us," catcher Willson Contreras said.

After the Cubs posted a collective 7.51 ERA during their 2-7 start on the road, they've found the Friendly Confines to be comfortable. The pitching staff has allowed only five earned runs over four contests at Wrigley Field, including 13 2/3 shutout innings from the bullpen.

The 35-year-old Hamels offered the Cubs their latest strong performance, striking out six Angels and allowing only four hits and no walks in the wind. His only blemish was allowing a 426-foot homer by Albert Pujols on a pitch low in the zone in the fourth inning.

Hamels had approached Friday with the hopes of pitching outside of the "slug zones" and forcing weak contact for his defense to handle.

"Unfortunately, Albert brought his two-iron," Hamels said.

On the other side, the Angels weren't so fortunate as they allowed 1,792 combined feet in four homers by the Cubs -- including two from Contreras and a 472-foot shot by Anthony Rizzo.

With two outs in the eighth inning, Hamels fell behind 3-0 on Angels lead-off man David Fletcher. Having surpassed the 100-pitch mark, Hamels knew it would likely be his last batter, so he emptied the tank with a pair of fastballs in the zone before forcing a flyout to center field.

It capped the kind of outing that the Cubs envisioned from Hamels when they acquired him from the Rangers last summer -- and continued an impressive trend. Hamels now owns the lowest career ERA of any pitcher who has made at least 10 starts at Wrigley Field with a mark of 1.606, according to Chris Kamka of NBC Sports Chicago.

While Hamels has come to appreciate the big-game feel of pitching at Wrigley Field, the Cubs have enjoyed having an experienced performer on their side.

"He's out there playing baseball," manager Joe Maddon said. "That's all he is doing, is playing baseball. And it's awesome."

Hamels is one of the most important pieces of this Cubs team and its hopes for 2019, paid $20 million for the season with the hopes that he can offer a consistency to the rotation. With ace left-hander Jon Lester (left hamstring strain) on the injured list and with right-hander Yu Darvish and right-hander Kyle Hendricks searching for their form, having Hamels on the hill gives the Cubs comfort.

That was especially true on a windy afternoon made for hitters. 

"You just have to make pitches," Hamels said. "Whatever happens happens. You can't really live up in the zone. Especially with the way the game is now with launch angles and guys really trying to put the ball in the air, you just have to be smart.

"It's just kind of a matter of executing pitches."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​