He later insisted it was a thank you to the crowd for acknowledging he gave his all and not goodbye.
"I have to try to execute and win the ball game," Hamels said. "That's ultimately what I've tried to stick to no matter what. Those types of thoughts are always going to be after the fact and after the game and in between games when I'm not playing."
So did he think about this possibly being his last moment at home as Phillies pitcher when he exited?
"No," Hamels said, "I was still thinking about the home run I gave up."
The Phillies lost again, and the details are less important by the day. This time, Hamels blew an eighth-inning lead, Jonathan Papelbon could not find the strike zone, and that was that. The team's most recent slide, which comes after a flicker of promise, leaves Hamels' future as the most riveting drama remaining.
October baseball is morphing into a pipe dream. The Phillies are 2-9 in extra-inning games and a dismal 17-29 at home. They teeter on the edge of irrelevancy.
Saturday may have marked Hamels' last appearance in Citizens Bank Park as a Phillie. The team is working feverishly to reach an agreement on a new contract before the July 31 trade deadline. Reports suggest the Phillies are willing to stretch to six years on a Hamels deal, which could make an agreement plausible, even with Hamels so close to tasting free agency. A larger deal would certainly await then.
That was secondary on his mind Saturday, he said, even with the wave. He was sharp early; seven of his first 25 pitches were swung and missed by Giants batters. Mistakes haunted him later, specifically a change-up to Melky Cabrera crushed for a home run that forced a tie game into the hands of a beleaguered bullpen.
Papelbon, the $50 million closer, breezed through a six-pitch ninth. He stumbled in the 10th by walking the leadoff hitter on four pitches and fell victim to a bloop single and perfect bunt single.
"He said he was fine and wanted to go back out," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I figured that was our best option."
It was the 20th time the Phillies lost a game decided in the seventh inning or later.
Changes are likely in the coming days. The first priority is to lock up Hamels before selling off any spare parts and shacking up until the hot stove reheats come November.
Hamels has risked millions every time he's thrown a baseball in 2012. He chose not to sign a deal before the season like his opponent Saturday, San Francisco's Matt Cain, did. Cain's six-year, $127.5 million extension set another bar for Hamels' impending deal. He will likely top it, should he stay healthy.
"He's handled it great," Manuel said. "Today, he kept his composure. He was a little bit upset he couldn't hold the lead. If he showed any emotion, that's what is behind it. I don't think his contract has anything to do with nothing for him this year. I mean that."
On this day, both Hamels and Cain were human. Each surrendered three home runs, and traded long balls of their own in the third inning.
Hamels should not have survived the eighth after the Cabrera homer. The Giants botched a suicide squeeze play when Gregor Blanco missed a sign. Buster Posey was easily caught stealing home. Then Blanco walked, Joaquin Arias singled over Jimmy Rollins' outstretched glove, and Hamels' day was done.
Only when Antonio Bastardo induced an infield pop was Hamels spared defeat.
The offensive explosion against Cain was unexpected. The righthander had limited the Phillies to one earned run on 11 hits in his previous 31 innings against them. Ryan Howard blasted a 93 m.p.h. fastball on the outside corner for a three-run bomb in the sixth. Howard stood to admire it while Cain cringed.
Hamels could not make it stand. When he reached back and tossed an 84 m.p.h. change-up that twisted Ryan Theriot to the ground on one knee, the ballpark erupted. The seventh inning was over, there was still hope, and one fan screamed, "Sign Cole Hamels!"
If this was goodbye, it embodied everything about this cursed season.
Contact Matt Gelb
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