Arlington -- It was apparent early in the Rangers playoff opener against Toronto that ace Cole Hamels didn't have his best stuff, but walking Jays ninth place hitter Ezequiel Carrerra in the third inning, was a sign he had some of his worst.
Another indicator of Hamels struggles - the wild pitch that moved Carrera into scoring position. Hamels says when facing a quality lineup like the Jays, it's easy to try to be too fine and not execute pitches.
"When you need to make key pitches," said Hamels, "sometimes when you overdo it you're going to miss your spots."
Later in the third, Adrian Beltre couldn't snare a wicked liner off the bat of Josh Donaldson and Carrerra cashed in the walk for the game's first run.
"He just started trying to do a little too much," said catcher Janathan Lucroy. "The word I like to use is over-cook, you try to over-cook things."
While Hamels struggled with command, the Jays feasted. The big blow: Troy Tulowitzki lined one into the gap, and Ian Desmond thought he had it, but couldn't haul it in. The bases loaded triple give Toronto a 5-0 lead, and sucked all the energy out of the ballpark.
"When you give up the amount of runs I did early in the game, it can kinda deflate anything and everything of what home-field advantage really is," said Hamels.
The 42-pitch third inning was his undoing, but it got worse. Hamels gives up 6 earned runs in just 3 and-a-third innings.
It's his worst post-season start ever. While he was down, Hamels vowed he's by no means out.
"The big part is I know how to overcome and get over it," Hamels said, "and get ready for another game."
Hamels stunning failure actually continues a troubling trend. In his last 6 starts of the regular season, he gave up 24 earned runs in just 32 innings.
"He's a big-game pitcher," said Rangers manager Jeff Banister, "you've got to trust he's going to figure it out."
The Rangers obviously need much more out of their ace in the post-season, but now the focus is staying in it long enough to give Hamels a shot to redeem himself.