WASHINGTON — Cole Hamels admits it: He plunked rookie phenom Bryce Harper on purpose.
"I was trying to hit him," the Philadelphia lefty said. "I'm not going to deny it."
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That startling bit of honesty came after Hamels nailed the Washington teen with a fastball in the small of the back his first time up during the Phillies' 9-3 win Sunday night. The candid remark is also certain to cost Hamels a suspension from Major League Baseball.
Harper came up with two outs in the first inning and Hamels promptly drilled the 19-year-old.
"That's something I grew up watching, that's kind of what happened. So I'm just trying to continue the old baseball because I think some people are kind of getting away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn't say anything because that's the way baseball is," Hamels said.
"But I think unfortunately the league's protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball," he said.
In other words, Hamels said, "It's just, 'Welcome to the big leagues.'"
Harper quickly evened the score with Hamels. After taking third on a single, Harper broke for the plate when Hamels made a pickoff throw to first. Harper stole home, sliding in safely for the first swipe of his eight-game big league career.
"I think he kind of did that for me," Hamels said.
Harper brushed off Hamels' comments on the purpose pitch.
"Hamels threw a great game tonight," he said.
In the third inning, Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann hit Hamels in the left leg with one out and a runner on first when the Phillies pitcher squared to bunt. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher warned both dugouts.