HOUSTON — Unlike the first two games of the series, in which the Royals battled the Astros to the finish, winning 1-0 and losing 4-3 in 12 innings, this one was over quickly.
Royals starter Jason Hammel, who had a 2.89 ERA over his last six starts, never found his groove Sunday at Minute Maid Park, surrendering eight runs in the second inning, and the Astros ran away with the win, 11-3, to take the series.
“It’s already out of my mind,” Hammel said. “In the past, I’d really be frustrated with it. It’s a loss and it’s unacceptable, but I’d like to think this is a blip on the radar, especially with the way I pitched the last two innings. I do have to start using my changeup more. … Nine walks in the last two outings. I have to get back in the strike zone and be more aggressive.”
Hammel walked three batters in the second and gave up two hits to Yuli Gurriel, the second of which was a grand slam that made it 8-0.
“Hard to wrap your head around [that inning],” Hammel said. “Eight runs on basically two swings. But [the] walks. You put guys on base for free and make mistakes, and that’s what happens.”
Hammel exited after four innings, permitting six hits and nine runs (seven earned) while walking a season-high five batters. He struck out three.
Royals first baseman Lucas Duda, just back from the disabled list, did the only damage against Astros starter Gerrit Cole with a solo homer in the fourth inning.
“[Cole is] tough,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s every bit as tough as anyone in this league. You give him a couple of runs, and it’s even tougher. They have a really good pitching staff over there, and it’s hard to fall behind that group and battle back.”