A friend from Texas, whenever he eats junk food, is fond of saying that he can hear himself getting fatter. It's canned comedy. Most days, when Cole Hamels takes the mound, zipping pitch after pitch into the catcher's mitt with a loud pop, you can hear the hurler's wallet getting fatter. That is not so much a joke as it is the truth.



Hamels didn't have his best outing of the year on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. Not at all. Hamels had eight strikeouts and just two walks, but he also allowed five runs and seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, and the Marlins beat the Phils, 5-4. It was the first time Hamels has allowed that many earned runs since July of last year.



"They're a good team," said Hamels, who is 0-2 against the Marlins but 8-0 against everyone else this season. "Unfortunately, I think it's a matter of both games I've pitched against them, just making too many mistakes. You have that stretch where you have a good inning, another good inning. But they've been able to get on base and get the big hit, as opposed to me not being able to get out of a jam."

Even so, Saturday's performance was essentially a hiccup in an otherwise smooth season so far for Hamels. He looked good last year and, on the whole, he's looked even better this season. Entering the game, Hamels sported a stingy 2.43 ERA while averaging 9.3 strikeouts and just 1.8 walks per nine innings. Those are excellent numbers. You can also add these digits to the list that will make all sorts of potential suitors get hot and bothered like unsupervised teenagers at a co-ed mixer: 28. That's how old he is. Hamels won't turn 29 until the first year of his next contract. You wonder more and more which organization will throw him the birthday party and buy the confetti cake.