Royals

Royals’ Jason Hammel continues to work on change-up in 8-7 victory over Angels

Royals starter Jason Hammel gave up seven runs in six innings, including six in the fifth inning, in an 8-7 win over the Angels on Sunday in Tempe, Ariz.
Royals starter Jason Hammel gave up seven runs in six innings, including six in the fifth inning, in an 8-7 win over the Angels on Sunday in Tempe, Ariz. jsleezer@kcstar.com

When Royals starter Jason Hammel began his spring, he set a simple goal: He sought to transform his change-up from an average offering to a weapon. In his penultimate outing before the regular season, he remained committed to the task, even as the added emphasis caused his start to unravel.

In an 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe-Diablo Stadium, Hammel yielded seven runs and eight hits in six innings, including six runs during a treacherous fifth. Yet the line required closer inspection. He allowed a run in the first inning before putting up three scoreless frames.

His day imploded, Hammel said, as he lost the feel for his change-up during the fifth.

By the end, he still felt positive about the afternoon of work — well, mostly.

“Honestly, I felt great about it, save for the fifth inning,” Hammel said. “That inning, it was just change-up. I was pushing it a little bit. I did a lot of good things today with the change-up, so that makes me feel really good about it.”

After opening the fifth inning with a strikeout of Angels second baseman Danny Espinosa, Hammel surrendered five hits, issued one walk and hit a batter. The rally included singles by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols and a three-run double by Jefry Marte that gave the Angels a 7-5 lead.

In the regular season, perhaps manager Ned Yost would have emerged from the dugout and signaled to the bullpen. Yet Hammel needed to increase his pitch count to close to 100 pitches before tapering off in his last appearance. So he was left out on the mound to solve the issue.

On most days, Hammel subsists with an above-average slider, a four-seam fastball, a sinker and a curveball. In 2017, he would like to incorporate the change-up as a viable part of his arsenal. On Sunday, the results were somewhat mixed. But they were promising enough to satisfy Hammel.

He will pitch differently during the regular season. But this was still important work.

“My whole goal this spring training was to make change-up an effective pitch for me,” Hammel said. “And I think I accomplished that goal.”

Hammel is set to make one final tune-up appearance Saturday against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas. He will make his regular-season debut a week from Thursday in Minnesota.

The focus on the progress of Hammel obscured one thing: The Royals crafted a spirited comeback in the top of the ninth inning, erasing a one-run deficit with a pair of runs against the Angels’ bullpen.

Outfielder Terrance Gore opened the rally with a one-out single to right field. Brayan Peña followed with a single to right-center. Salvador Perez tied the game with an RBI ground-out to shortstop. And minor-leaguer Wander Franco finished the outburst with an RBI single to center field.

Second baseman Raul Mondesi helped close out the victory with a shimmering defensive play in the bottom of the ninth. He also added three stolen bases.

“He’s got the ability to impact a game in a number of different ways,” Yost said. “And he just finds ways to show us how many different ways every day. Today it was with his legs and defense.”

The arms

Left-handed reliever Mike Minor passed another benchmark in his transition to the bullpen, working a scoreless inning while pitching on back-to-back days for the first time this spring. Minor, who is set to open the season in the bullpen, has posted a 0.75 ERA in Cactus League play.

“He passed a big test today — back to back — which was something we were interested to see,” Yost said. “His stuff was really good.”

The regular guys

Paulo Orlando crushed his third homer of the spring, a mammoth blast to center field.

Brandon Moss added his second on an opposite-field shot to left-center. Moss finished 3 for 3 on the day.

The young guys

Cheslor Cuthbert started at second base and was removed from the game after being hit by a pitch in the lower back. He was listed as day to day with a lower-back contusion, according to a Royals official.

Logan Moon, a Blue Springs native, scored the game-winning run in the ninth inning after pinch-running for Peña.

ROYALS 8, ANGELS 7

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield 3b

5

0

1

1

0

2

.278

Cuthbert 2b

2

1

1

0

0

0

.246

Mondesi 2b

2

1

1

0

0

0

.378

Orlando cf

3

1

1

2

1

1

.289

Gore cf

1

1

1

0

0

0

.250

Hosmer 1b

3

1

1

0

0

1

.211

Pena 1b

2

0

2

1

0

0

.407

Moon lf

0

1

0

0

0

0

.000

Perez dh

5

0

0

1

0

2

.231

Moss lf

3

1

3

2

0

0

.283

Burns lf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.220

O’Brien rf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.294

Franco 3b

2

0

1

1

0

1

.500

Colon ss

3

0

1

0

0

1

.286

Arteaga ss

2

0

0

0

0

0

.216

Butera c

4

1

2

0

0

1

.227

Totals

41

8

15

8

1

10

Los Angeles

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Escobar 3b

4

1

2

1

0

0

.195

Sanchez c

1

0

0

0

0

1

.280

Calhoun rf

2

1

0

0

1

0

.241

Young cf

2

0

0

0

0

0

.261

Trout cf

3

1

2

1

0

0

.326

Navarro ss

2

0

0

0

0

1

.154

Pujols dh

3

1

1

2

1

0

.323

Serena dh

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Maybin lf

3

1

0

0

1

1

.111

Robinson rf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.333

Marte 1b

4

0

1

3

0

0

.300

Espinosa 2b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.200

Johnson 2b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.235

Pennington ss

2

1

1

0

0

0

.406

Revere lf

2

0

2

0

0

0

.432

Maldonado c

1

1

0

0

0

1

.100

Cron 1b

2

0

0

0

0

0

.317

Totals

35

7

9

7

3

5

Kansas City

000

410

102

8

15

0

Los Angeles

100

060

000

7

9

0

DP: Kansas City 1, Los Angeles 0. LOB: Kansas City 9, Los Angeles 5. 2B: Merrifield (3), Butera 2 (3), Trout (6), Marte (4). HR: Orlando (3), Moss (2). SB: Merrifield (6), Mondesi 3 (4), Gore (5), Franco (1), Calhoun (2), Pujols (1). CS: Revere (3).

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Hammel

6

8

7

7

2

3

5.31

Minor

1

0

0

0

1

1

0.75

Wood

W 3-0

1

1

0

0

0

0

4.11

Alburquerque

S 1

1

0

0

0

0

1

4.15

Los Angeles

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Ramirez

4 2/3

8

5

5

0

6

5.91

Petit

1 1/3

1

0

0

0

1

0.75

Valdez

1

2

1

1

1

2

5.23

Adams

1

1

0

0

0

1

8.00

Anderson

L 1-1

2/3

3

2

2

0

0

7.71

Holland

1/3

0

0

0

0

0

4.50

Holds: Valdez (1), Adams (1). HBP: by Hammel (Maldonado), Ramirez (Cuthbert), Anderson (Burns). PB: Maldonado. Umpires: Home, Jim Reynolds; First, Mike Winters; Second, Bruce Dreckman; Third, Stu Scheurwater. Time: 3:19. Attendance: 8,390.

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