ARLINGTON — Royals starter Jason Hammel struck out 10 batters, more than any Kansas City pitcher in a little over a year, as his club cruised to a 5-3 victory over the Rangers in their series finale at Globe Life Park on Sunday.
Buoyed by a 2-0 lead before he had thrown his first pitch, Hammel allowed a leadoff double and then got to work with the strikeout stuff, fanning Shin-Soo Choo. Hammel went on to strike out eight of the nine starters in the Texas lineup, including Delino DeShields and Robinson Chirinos twice.
All the strikeouts, plus several deep counts and two walks, limited Hammel to 5 1/3 innings on 102 pitches (64 strikes). He left after putting runners on the corners with one out in the sixth, and reliever Tim Hill got a double-play ball to allow Hammel to finish a start with no earned runs for the second time this season. He allowed four hits.
Half of Hammel’s strikeouts came on 91-93 mph fastballs and half were on 83-86 mph sliders. Eight were swinging third strikes and two were looking. He befuddled the Rangers hitters throughout the afternoon to rack up double-digit K’s for the first time since June 1, 2015, and the fifth time since his Major League career began 12 years ago.
Danny Duffy was the last Royals pitcher to fan 10, on May 18 of last year.
Against Hammel’s homonymous counterpart, Rangers lefty Cole Hamels, the Royals’ offense put Hammel in a position to win from the beginning. Jon Jay and Salvador Perez collected first-inning singles and, after Jorge Soler reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second, Hunter Dozier drove in Jay and Soler with a single to center.
Drew Butera hit a solo homer in the second and Perez hit a two-run shot in the third to give the Royals enough margin to overcome a three-run Rangers seventh.