Three batters into the Saturday night contest against Seattle and the Kansas City Royals had a three-run lead.
However, rules are rules* and the rules dictate that even on Turn Ahead the Clock Night, the game can’t end after three batters. As such, the Mariners did to Jason Hammel what teams past, present and future have, are and will continue to do—punish him unrelentingly for crimes against humanity pitching in a less-than-stellar fashion.
[*– In honor of Turn Ahead the Clock Night, what might’ve been some fun rules to implement? My three suggestions would’ve been 1.) jetpacks for centerfielders, 2.) designated runners for designated hitters and 3.) pitching coaches are chained to the top step of the dugout and for every mound visit, the chain gets 10 feet shorter so after three or four trips, he’s basically shouting from the base line. Nobody ever asks for my opinion, and I can’t imagine why.]
Some notes about the unis: the Royals helmets were baller and I think they should use them forever more. Dee Gordon going sleeveless was cool, and no Royal doing so was a bummer. The dark-maroon number for the Mariners undershirts was a little rough, and the insistence by some to go untucked was a little jarring, although they say comfort is key. Overall, I did not disdain this whole event nearly as much as I thought I would.
Except for the part where the Royals lost again. But those first three hitters tho.
You really could not have asked for a better start. First-pitch hacking (a theme that carried over from last night), Whit Merrifield led off with a single, followed by a Rosell Herrera single to left. And then Mike Moustakas tattooed a shot deep into the right field bleachers.
3-0, Good Guys.
THE THING ABOUT THAT THOUGH is that the Mariners would get their turn, and their turn consisted of beating the brakes off of Jason Hammel all night, to the point where it got kind of uncomfortable after awhile. The first inning was, comparably, harmless—a one-out Jean Segura single came home to roost thanks to Mitch Haniger’s double.
The second frame was more concerning. After Father Time Denard Span led off with a single, Ryon Healy homered, followed by a Ben Gamel triple and Mike Zunino sac fly. Hammel (sort of) settled down to get out of that mess, but then gave up two more runs in the third, after Haniger and Nelson Cruz singled, when Span (double) and Healy (single) drove them in.
By this point, Jason Hammel had given up 10 hits. He didn’t have his best stuff; he didn’t have my best stuff. For some reason, Ned Yost let him remain in the game anyway. Two days after an off-day, one day following a mildly decent start from Ian Kennedy and Ned can’t bear dip into the bullpen. I’ve given up trying to figure it out.
The rest of the game was largely defense-based in its entertainment. In the fifth, Alcides Escobar took away a hit from Ben Gamel on a diving stop in center. Moustakas made a nice diving grab in the seventh. Defensively, the Royals are okay!
In the seventh, they inched closer after Adalberto Mondesi got things started after reaching on a fielding error (or not, I thought it was an infield single). Merrifield singled (his third hit of the night) to send the speedy Mondesi to third, and Rosie brought him home with a sac fly.
Things looked promising in the eighth; after Lucas Duda led off with a groundout, Jorge Bonifacio singled and Alex Gordon walked. Two down, two aboard, one away… it seemed like a perfect time to pinch-hit for Escobar.
Esky hit anyway. He flew out. It wasn’t even a productive out. Currently DBA Adalberto grounded out to end the inning. The ninth went quickly, and mercifully the month of June came to a close for the Royals.
Your Tweet of Despair
— brian kalisch (@b5alive) July 1, 2018
The Bright Spot: #ThreeHitWhit
The Nadir: Allowing Jason Hammel to surrender 13 hits is against the Geneva Convention.
The Next Step: Brad Keller, who has pitched as good or better than any other player on the Royals roster since moving into the rotation, gets the chance to start July on a better foot. All he has to do is go toe-to-toe with James Paxton, who has as good or better than any other pitcher in the American League for most of the season. Good luck!