DENVER – Cole Hamels was sharp all afternoon – even when his fastball hit Nolan Arenado in the arm.
At least that’s what Arenado thinks.
Hamels struck out nine in seven scoreless innings, singled twice and drove in two runs to lead the Cubs past the Colorado Rockies, 10-1, in a testy game Wednesday.
It was the third straight start Hamels went at least seven innings and didn’t allow an earned run, but his performance was overshadowed by tensions between the teams that likely contributed to four batters getting hit by pitches.
Arenado departed in the fifth inning with a left forearm bruise after Hamels (6-2) plunked him in the third, and three more batters – including Hamels – were hit by pitches later in the game.
“It kind of got out of hand, but I hope Nolan’s all right,” said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, one of the four victims.
Javy Báez and Kyle Schwarber homered for the Cubs, who snapped a five-game road losing streak. Colorado’s 10-game home winning streak ended.
Arenado looked toward the mound after he was hit by Hamels’ pitch, and he said something to the Cubs’ dugout before walking to first base. He was later forced out at second and played the field in the fourth, throwing out Addison Russell to start the inning. Ryan McMahon replaced him in the top of the fifth.
X-rays on his arm were negative.
“When I first got hit, I knew it was on the meat, where the muscle is, so I was feeling OK,” Arenado said. “But it was throbbing, and it got super tight, and sometimes when it gets super tight quick it can be a break. It was just getting tight, and the game was getting ugly, so they thought just get me out of there and get me rested and hopefully feel better tomorrow.”
He wasn’t surprised when Hamels’s pitch got him in the forearm. The Cubs’ Kris Bryant was hit by pitches three times in the first two games of the series, and he missed time last year after getting hit in the head by German Márquez at Coors Field. Márquez also hit two Cubs in his start last week at Wrigley Field.
“We hit Bryant twice yesterday, buzzed Báez’s tower there on a 1-1 pitch, so I kind of had a feeling it was going to happen,” Arenado said.
Bryant was given the day off, and before the game manager Joe Maddon said it was, in part, because he had been “ball-peened the last couple of days.”
But Maddon also said he didn’t think Bryant was hit on purpose, and he said Arenado getting plunked was unintentional.
“I’m not going to hit their guys (for) hitting KB. Everybody has the right to pitch inside,” he said. “If you’re going to pitch successfully in this ballpark, you have to pitch inside, and some guys are going to get hit.”
Colorado manager Bud Black had his suspicions.
“It didn’t look right to me,” he said.
Things settled down until Rockies reliever Brian Shaw hit Hamels in the right foot with a pitch in the seventh inning, and Colorado rookie Phillip Diehl hit Rizzo in the eighth, drawing a warning to both dugouts from home plate umpire Roberto Ortiz.
Hamels said the pitch got him on the ankle but he would be fine for his next start.
“I think he was trying to make pitches inside because I was able to get a couple of hits that were away,” he said.
Báez followed Rizzo in the eighth inning with a two-run homer, his 17th, and took extra time to watch it travel 460 feet.
“I’d say he watched that one a little extra,” Rizzo said. “When you think something is intentional and you get him back on that, it feels a little bit better.”
Cubs reliever Brad Brach hit Tony Wolters in the ninth but was not ejected.
The Cubs scored five times in the second off Antonio Sentenzela (5-5). Jason Heyward had a two-run single, and Schwarber hit three-run homer to the second deck in right-center, his 14th. Sentenzela lasted to the fifth inning, when he gave up three more runs, two on a single by Hamels.
Hamels got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and breezed from there, allowing six hits. David Dahl had three of Colorado’s hits.
Cubs: RHP Steve Cishek was carted off the field before the game after getting hit on the inside of his right knee while playing catch with Brandon Kintzler. Cishek said the trainers iced the knee and he feels he should be fine in a day or two.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (5-4, 3.56 ERA) will face Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the opener of a four-game series at Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (5-5, 4.27) will open a four-game home series against San Diego on Thursday night.