"Nice job by him," manager Ned Yost said. "This is exciting to see a young kid come up. He's a switch-hitter, got a couple of hits against a quality pitcher like Cole Hamels, and made some nice plays in the outfield."
But the Royals managed just an unearned run through seven innings against Hamels, who struck out seven, and the Rangers' bullpen closed out the victory.
Royals starter Jason Hammel came into the game having gone 2-2 with a 2.56 ERA in his previous five starts. But the Rangers nicked him for two runs in each of the second and third innings.
The big blow in the second was Delino DeShields' two-run double.
Hammel lasted 5 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits, four walks and four runs. He also struck out four.
"The first few innings, I was sweating a lot," Hammel said. "I was having trouble gripping the ball, so just getting through that. Kind of when I ran out of sweat, I was able to feel the ball again and make more effective pitches. But [no] excuses. Just got to execute better. There was four walks, three of them come around to score. That's the thing that'll irk me tonight while I'm sleeping, trying to sleep."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED The Royals' sputtering offense had a chance to make a statement against Hamels in the first as he battled his command. Hamels issued a leadoff walk to Whit Merrifield, then he threw a wild pitch. Moments later, Merrifield stole third, still with none out. The Rangers played their infield back, conceding the run, but Paulo Orlando struck out on a pitch out of the zone. Hamels walked Mike Moustakas next, but Salvador Perez rolled into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat. Perez has hit into a team-leading 12 double plays. The Royals are tied with the Astros for most double plays in the Major Leagues with 73.
"I want to say we've hit into our 76th double play of the year? 73?" Yost said. "Something crazy. It just boggles your mind that that's happened so many times."
Added Merrifield, "[Hamels] looked like he kind of lost the feel for his stuff initially, a lot of times that can snowball. But he's a veteran guy, he found it and commanded, and got a pitch when he needed it."
SOUND SMART Merrifield, who led the AL in stolen bases with 34 last season, has 16 this season. He also is 9-for-9 stealing third base, which he did in the first inning.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon threw out Elvis Andrus trying to score from second on a single in the ninth. It was Gordon's seventh assist this season and the 89th of his career, most in the Majors since 2010.
HE SAID IT "Kind of get tired of that. Feel like I'm playing hockey like I'm a goalie instead of a baseball player right now. I don't know what it is, but it's definitely the most times I've ever been hit since I started playing baseball. It's got to be four or five times lately." -- Hammel, on getting nailed with yet another comebacker in the first inning off the bat of Adrian Beltre
UP NEXT Right-hander Jakob Junis (5-7, 4.43 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in the series finale against the Rangers at 7:15 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx (0-1, 6.55) will start for the Rangers. Junis has lost four straight, including Friday's start against the Astros when he gave up six runs over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up three home runs in the game and has yielded 18 for the season.