7.0 innings pitched on 104 pitches. 2 earned runs on 4 hits, 3 walks, and 8 strikeouts.
That, my friends, is the final pitching line from the Opening Day start for Cole Hamels. Maybe not the most impressive line we've seen, but eerily reminiscent of his performance in Game 162 of the 2015 season.
Much like in that game, Hamels had some early trouble. In this game, he gave up early home runs to Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. After that, things never really got out of control, and in listening to Jeff Banister talk, there was no real thought of actually pulling Hamels before he completed the final out of the 7th inning.
When we go so long without seeing meaningful baseball, it's sometimes hard to remember what great pitching is meant to look like. Yesterday, Cole Hamels gave us a reminder of that. Whereas many pitchers would become frustrated and perhaps visibly flustered, Hamels remained calm. He's been there before.
At some point this season, Yu Darvish will return to the rotation. Darvish can be a dominating force in his own right, but while we don't know how long it may take him to get back to his old self, Cole Hamels is still there.
Yesterday's game showed, once again, why Texas was willing to part with such an impressive group of prospects to land Hamels. He's the type of pitcher that can not only keep you in a game in which, seriously, the offense only nets one hit -- a hit that easily could have been an out in literally any other defensive alignment.
No matter, Hamels continued plugging away, was handed a lead, and made that lead stand. And somewhere along the way, he made a more than a few guys feel silly.
On the day, Hamels showed a wide array of pitches, mixing various fastballs between 89-95mph with a changeup at 84mph. He also mixed in the curveball like the one you see above. An array of pitches like that can show you exactly why he induced 20 swings-and-misses en route to 8 strikeouts. This, if nothing else, is the definition of an ace.
I have no idea what the remaining 161 games hold in store for this year's iteration of the Texas Rangers. What I do know is that with Cole Hamels taking the mound every fifth day, I feel very comfortable with the chances in those games. Even against a pitcher like Felix Hernandez.
Because matchups like that are exactly why the Texas Rangers have Cole Hamels.