Royals

Why Hammel's struggles — including in a 10-5 loss — come at a bad time for the Royals

"I'm probably throwing more angry balls than pitches," says Jason Hammel after 10-5 loss to Red Sox

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Hammel gave up eight runs in two innings as the Boston Red Sox went on to a 10-5 win on Friday July 6, 2018.
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Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Hammel gave up eight runs in two innings as the Boston Red Sox went on to a 10-5 win on Friday July 6, 2018.

Maybe it was wishful thinking anyway.

The dream scenario for the Royals where starter Jason Hammel could potentially resurrect his season — and do so just in time to become a trade asset for a talent-needy club — could have been imagined six weeks ago.

It seems much less likely after his dud outing Friday.

Hammel was blasted for eight earned runs in just two innings, posting the shortest start of his Royals career in a 10-5 home loss to the Boston Red Sox.

"It's something mechanical, and then just effort-wise. I’m throwing more angry balls right now than actual pitches," Hammel said. "I’ve become a thrower instead of a pitcher due to just frustration."

Kansas City has now lost seven in a row and also 25 of its last 29.

There seemed to be hope for Hammel in late May; he allowed no earned runs in consecutive starts against St. Louis and Texas, striking out 16 in those 12 1/3 innings. Just a few weeks later, the site MLB Trade Rumors listed him in the "Others considered" category when it put out a top 50 trade candidates on June 9.

It wasn't a glowing endorsement, but it was something. And for a Royals season that was circling the drain already, perhaps squeezing some value out of Hammel had the potential to turn into a minor victory in a forgotten season.

That no longer seems a probable outcome following Hammel's third consecutive blowup.

First, it was nine runs allowed (seven earned) in four innings at Houston. Then, it was six earned (and 13 hits) surrendered in six innings on the road against Seattle.

Friday's effort started poorly and didn't improve much from there. Mookie Betts launched the third pitch of the game 410 feet to left for a leadoff shot.

And that started Hammel's "angry" pitching, where he says he overthrew too often.

"Nothing comes from it really. You basically just feel like you're throwing hard and doing something, and it makes no sense," Hammel said. "That's for Triple-A and that's for Double-A. You just don't do that. It doesn't produce what you want."

The final damage against Hammel: more runs allowed (eight) than outs recorded (six), with the Red Sox blasting eight 100 mile-per-hour-or-better exit velocities in that short time. Hammel's season ERA also ballooned to 6.16.

"It just wasn't his night," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He just didn't have anything going for him."

Perhaps nothing illustrated Hammel's struggles more than a single pitch to Xander Bogaerts in the second. After getting ahead 0-2, Hammel went to his best offering — a slider — only to watch as Bogaerts uncoiled for a 413-foot home run into the Red Sox bullpen in left.

"Right now, I’m just bashing my head against the wall trying to figure out what’s going on," Hammel said. "I'm not going to give up. It's in my nature to go harder when things get bad. Sometimes you've got to back off."

There was at least one positive following Hammel's rough stint: Reliever Burch Smith might have turned himself into a rotation candidate, shutting out the Red Sox for the next four innings with three strikeouts and no walks.

By then, though, the game had been decided. Boston starter Chris Sale sailed through six innings while striking out 12, and the Red Sox completed a win that seemed likely from the start.

Before first pitch, Vegas sports books had the Red Sox as one of the heaviest MLB favorites of the year. In order to win $100, someone wagering on the Red Sox to win on Friday would have had to put down $380.

That would have paid off, though. Hammel was ineffective. Sale was his dominant self. KC fell to 25-62.

And the hope — dream? — that the Royals might re-establish trade value for Hammel appeared to float even further from reality.

Red Sox 10, Royals 5

Boston

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Betts rf

5

1

1

1

0

0

.336

Benintendi lf

4

1

2

0

0

1

.281

Swihart lf

1

1

1

0

0

0

.175

Martinez dh

5

2

2

2

0

1

.328

Pearce 1b

5

2

3

1

0

0

.309

Bogaerts ss

3

2

1

2

2

0

.276

Holt 2b

5

0

2

2

0

0

.297

Nunez 3b

5

1

1

0

0

0

.256

Leon c

4

0

1

1

0

0

.248

Bradley Jr. cf

4

0

1

1

0

2

.203



Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield cf

5

0

2

1

0

1

.290

Herrera rf

5

1

1

0

0

2

.250

Moustakas 3b

4

1

1

2

0

1

.258

Perez c

3

0

1

0

0

2

.215

Butera c

1

0

0

0

0

0

.152

Bonifacio lf

4

1

2

0

0

1

.292

Dozier dh

3

0

0

0

1

2

.219

Duda 1b

4

1

1

0

0

2

.246

Escobar ss

4

0

1

1

0

0

.193

Mondesi 2b

4

1

1

1

0

1

.217



Boston

440

000

011

10

15

1

Kansas City

010

000

121

5

10

0

E—Bradley Jr. (3). LOB—Boston 6, Kansas City 6. 2B—Pearce 2 (10), Nunez (15), Bradley Jr. (13), Merrifield (25), Bonifacio (2). 3B—Duda (1). HR—Betts (22), off Hammel; Martinez (27), off Hammel; Bogaerts (14), off Hammel; Moustakas (17), off Workman. RBIs—Betts (43), Martinez 2 (73), Pearce (18), Bogaerts 2 (49), Holt 2 (21), Leon (17), Bradley Jr. (26), Merrifield (28), Moustakas 2 (55), Escobar (19), Mondesi (5).

Runners left in scoring position—Boston 4 (Betts, Nunez 2, Bradley Jr.); Kansas City 2 (Herrera, Mondesi). RISP—Boston 4 for 10; Kansas City 2 for 7.

Runners moved up—Leon, Mondesi. GIDP—Nunez.

DP—Kansas City 1 (Mondesi, Escobar, Duda).

Boston

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Sale, W, 9-4

6

5

1

1

1

12

99

2.36

Thornburg

1

1

1

1

0

0

18

9.00

Workman

1

2

2

2

0

0

17

2.08

Velazquez

1

2

1

1

0

0

23

2.82

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Hammel, L, 2-11

2

9

8

8

1

0

58

6.16

Smith

4

2

0

0

0

3

50

5.40

Flynn

2<AF>1/3

4

2

2

0

1

45

4.08

Maurer

<AF>2/3

0

0

0

1

0

15

9.00

Inherited runners-scored—Maurer 1-0. WP—Maurer.

Umpires—Home, Ryan Blakney; First, Sam Holbrook; Second, Jim Wolf; Third, D.J. Reyburn.

T—2:59. A—24,673 (37,903).

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