ARLINGTON -- The Kansas City Royals blasted Cole Hamels for two home runs and scored five runs over the first three innings to set the tone for a 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers on a hot Sunday afternoon.The Rangers' offense couldn't solve KC starter Jason Hammel, who struck out
ARLINGTON -- The Kansas City Royals blasted Cole Hamels for two home runs and scored five runs over the first three innings to set the tone for a 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers on a hot Sunday afternoon.
The Rangers' offense couldn't solve KC starter Jason Hammel, who struck out 10 of the 23 Rangers he faced, shutting out Texas over 5 1/3 innings on four hits. Rangers manager Jeff Banister was complimentary of Hammel's effort.
"Hammel, their guy, I thought made some really quality pitches all day long," Banister said. "Fastball on both sides of the plate. Slider played very big for him. Enough changeups to keep us off balance."
The Royals struck early scoring twice on three singles that, coupled with a stolen base, plated two runs in the first inning. They padded the lead for Hammel with Andrew Butera's solo home run in the second inning and Salvador Perez's two-run shot in the third inning to build a 5-0 lead.
In a year of almosts and could-have-beens, Banister noted in that first inning, Jorge Soler grounded a ball to third base with one out and runners on first and second. The throw went to second base for the forceout, but a bobble prevented a double play that would have ended the inning. Instead, a stolen base and a single followed, scoring two runs, which turned out to be the difference in the game.
Hamels talked about his performance after the game, especially the first three innings when the Royals scored all their runs.
"Probably the mound presence wasn't the best," Hamels said. "Once the ball leaves the hand, everything's out of our control."
Hamels talked about a less-than-favorable result, saying, "When things don't go well, especially early in the game, it can get very frustrating. Sometimes it's going to happen. You have to let it go, you have to move forward. We were almost able to pull it out today.
"I felt like the game plan was pretty solid. It was just not necessarily having the sharpness. You just can't let the human element affect it too much. I obviously didn't find the groove at all." To Hamels' credit, he did manage to keep the Royals off the board after the first three innings.
The Rangers finally cracked the scoreboard in the seventh inning. Joey Gallo greeted Royals reliever Eric Stout with his team-leading 15th home run. Rougned Odor followed with a single, and Robinson Chirinos homered to bring the Rangers within two at 5-3.
That was it for the Rangers' offense on the day. They threatened in the eighth, but went quietly in the ninth. Hamels is 3-5 with the loss, while Hammel is 2-5 with the win. Kelvin Herrera pitched the ninth for KC to earn his 11th save.
Even with Sunday's loss, the Rangers closed out this week-long homestand with a 4-3 record, their first winning week and homestand of the season.
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The Rangers' best chance to get back in the game came in the eighth inning. Ranger relievers had shut out the Royals after Hamels left the game, and the offense put three runs on the board in the seventh inning to pull to within two. A single, two wild pitches and a walk put the tying runs on base with one out. However, Kansas City reliever Jason Adam struck out Gallo after throwing three balls to start the at-bat, and then he got Odor to pop out to third to end the threat.
Texas has now played 55 games this season, slightly more than one-third of the schedule. That's the most games played in the Majors. Minnesota has played the fewest with 48.
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Gallo made an outstanding catch in left field on a shot off Perez's bat. Statcast™ gave the struck ball a 70 percent chance of being a hit. Its exit velocity was 106.7 mph, the highest of any ball hit in the game.
The Rangers are in Seattle on Monday for a Memorial Day matinee with the Mariners. Doug Fister (1-4, 4.22 ERA) will be the Rangers' starting pitcher, going up against left-hander Marco Gonzales. Fister comes into the game with two quality starts in his last three games and three quality starts in five May starts. Fister is a former Mariner, having made 60 starts in three seasons (2009-2011). He has not faced the Mariners this year, but has a 4-4 record with a 5.48 ERA in the 10 games (eight starts) against his former mates. Game time is 3:10 p.m. CT.
Dic Humphrey is a contributor to MLB.com based in Arlington.