ARLINGTON -- There is a week left before the July 31 Trade Deadline and Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels just hasn't turned himself into a hot commodity. Instead, he is going through what he called the worst stretch of his career.
The Yankees, Phillies and Nationals were among the teams that had scouts watching on Monday night, and what they saw was Hamels allowing seven runs in five innings in a 15-3 loss to the Athletics at Globe Life Park. The Rangers are now 4-13 in July.
The big blows off Hamels were a grand slam by Jonathan Lucroy in the second and a two-run home run by Stephen Piscotty in the fifth. Hamels has now allowed 23 home runs, tied for the second most in the American League, and his 1.81 home runs per nine innings is well above his career average of 1.04.
That only begins to tell why contending clubs aren't going to be eager to hand over legitimate prospects in a trade for Hamels, even if the Rangers are willing to pick up much of the remaining $23.5 million on his 2018 salary. Hamels' outing on Monday left him 1-3 with a 10.23 ERA in his last five starts, with one more to go on Saturday against the Astros before next Tuesday's Trade Deadline.
"Four- or five-game stretch has probably been the worst of my career so far," Hamels said. "It's the tough part about baseball. You can't let it define you. You have to discover how to correct it quickly. Unfortunately, it has been going on longer than I anticipated. What I am capable of doing out there is not showing. It's a serious disappointment. Frustration can boil over a little bit, especially when it stretches into multiple games."
The second inning started with a walk to Matt Olson, plus a couple of one-out singles by Matt Chapman and Mark Canha loaded the bases. Lucroy then unloaded the fourth grand slam of his career to give the Athletics a 4-0 lead and a walk to Marcus Semien led to another run before the inning was over.
"In the second inning, he got a little sideways with his delivery and the ball moving across the plate," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Professional, very competitive, you look at the expression on his face, that tells a little bit about the story. I don't think he's ever lost the drive or the competitiveness. He was trying to work it out. You could tell it was a little challenging for him, mentally, emotionally at one point."
Piscotty added his home run in the fifth and Hamels tied a season high by allowing seven runs. He is 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA after 20 starts.
"It puts a dent into the season and what I characteristically go out and try to do," Hamels said. "It's a tough situation, but I know I can go out and overcome it, get back to what I know I am capable of. The unfortunate part is my teammates have to witness this, the organization has to see it and the fans are not going to be pleased. That's a disappointment."
Still, the trade speculation could easily spill over into August once the non-waiver Deadline has passed. Hamels, at this rate, would likely pass through waivers, giving teams another shot at him if things get turned around.
"It's part of the game, it's the nature of the game," Hamels said. "We've got to deal with it if you want to play this game. It's going to happen. You can't run away from it. You have to deal with it head on and go out no matter what jersey you have on and what team you are playing on, the name of the game is to go out and get good results and win ballgames. Obviously what I am doing right now is definitely not the case."
TOCCI, RUA TAKE MOUND
The Rangers used outfielders Carlos Tocci and Ryan Rua to get the final five outs of the game. It's the 15th time in Rangers history they have used a position player as a pitcher, but it is the first time they have used two in a game. They combined to retire five straight batters.
Hamels has a 10.23 ERA in his last five starts, but his swing-and-miss rate has been 15.6 percent, according to Statcast™. That's up from 12.3 percent over his first 15 starts. His fastball velocity has also been up, averaging 92.7 miles per hour on Monday night. It was 91.4 through his first 15 starts.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Elvis Andrus hit a two-run home run in the third inning for the 1,500th hit of his career. It was also his first home run since April 9, as he missed two months with a fractured right elbow. He is the fifth player to have 1,500 hits as a Ranger along with Michael Young, Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez.
HE SAID IT
"I don't know how many times I've faced him, but I've faced him a lot, caught him a lot. Any time I know a guy's release point, it makes it a little bit easier. It's still hard, but he left a cutter up, and I was able to barrel it." -- Lucroy, on his grand slam off Hamels
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Athletics had Olson at first base with one out in the second when Chapman smacked a high bouncer up the middle. Second baseman Rougned Odor made a great stop, going to his right and making a hasty throw that bounced twice before shortstop Andrus made a bare-handed catch covering the bag. Olson was ruled safe, the Rangers challenged and the call stood on replay. The Athletics ended up scoring five that inning.
Left-hander Mike Minor (6-6, 4.89 ERA) will make his 19th start of the season on eight days' rest, and his first since the All-Star break at 7:05 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park. Minor is 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA in his last seven starts. He holds a 1-1 record with a 3.72 ERA in four career games (one start) against the A's. Right-hander Frankie Montas is expected to start for Oakland.