Kansas City, Mo. Jason Hammel worked out of the stretch exclusively for the first time in his career. It certainly won’t be the last.
Hammel allowed three hits over six innings for his first win with Kansas City, Eric Hosmer sent a two-run homer splashing into the fountains behind the fence in right-center field and the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 3-1 Friday night.
Hammel (1-3) struck out six and walked two, ending a six-start winless streak dating to Sept. 19, when he defeated Cincinnati for the Chicago Cubs. Hammel, who left the World Series champions as a free agent to sign a $16 million, two-year deal with Kansas City, failed to get out of the fourth inning in his previous two starts.
The right-hander opted to work from the stretch instead of the windup, hoping to simplify his way to better results.
“It’s something I had experimented with on the side and just committed to it,” Hammel said. “In the windup, there are a lot of pieces that have to go right, a lot of moving parts and the timing is going to be everything. With the stretch, everything is up and down, two movements up and down and you’re going to the plate.
“I’m a tall guy and lanky, so it’s got to be perfect on time every time. Obviously, we’ll continue that. That was the first time.”
Rookie Scott Alexander, Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera combined for one-hit relief. Alexander induced three straight groundouts in the seventh, Soria struck out Brandon Guyer, Roberto Perez and Carlos Santana in the eighth, and Herrera allowed Edwin Encarnacion’s two-out double in the ninth before retiring Jose Ramirez on a groundout for his fourth save in five chances.
Encarnacion homered in the fourth — he has four home runs in 21 at-bats against Hammel.
Hosmer, who had three hits, homered in the fifth off Danny Salazar (2-3) with a drive that would have traveled 458 feet unimpeded, according to Major League Baseball’s Statcast. Whit Merrifield had singled leading off.
“When we got the big double-play, we wanted to make sure we knew what we wanted to do with Hosmer,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We wanted to throw a fastball high and out of the zone to see if he’d chase. Obviously we didn’t do that.”
Hosmer finished a triple shy of a cycle.
Alcides Escobar added an RBI double in the sixth off Nick Goody,
Salazar (2-3) gave up two runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two.
“I was trying to throw a fastball up, and I missed it in a bad situation,” Salazar said of the homer to Hosmer.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (lower back strain) is not doing any on-field activities. “We’re letting him chill a little bit,” Francona said. Kluber will be re-evaluated Monday when the Indians play at Tampa Bay. “We’ll have a lot better idea if he’s starting his five-day cycle to pitch, or if we want to delay that some more time,” Francona said.
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy was placed on the 10-day DL, a day after straining his right hamstring. RHP Miguel Almonte was recalled from Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he was 1-0 with a 1.85 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. Manager Ned Yost said he was leaning toward having RHP Chris Young take Kennedy’s rotation slot.
Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin will be working on five days’ rest today. He allowed four runs and eight hits Sunday in a 12-4 win over Seattle.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas is 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his past nine Kauffman Stadium starts.