From a certain point of view, everything you need to know about this game happened in the first inning. Jason Hammel allowed a single to the lead-off hitter then, after striking out the second batter, allowed three of the next four hitters to belt RBI doubles. That proved to be more than enough offensive output to doom the Royals’ chances before they even came to the plate against Jordan Zimmermann.
From another point of view, it was actually a pretty good start for Jason Hammel. Those 3 runs ended up being the only ones he - or the bullpen, for that matter - allowed. He ended the day with a quality start when he left the game after 6.2 innings pitched.
FIP says that Hammel had a pretty good start, today, suggesting he should have allowed half the runs he actually did because the stat is primarily concerned with walks, strikeouts, and home runs. Hammel allowed 1, 5, and 0 respectively. FIP assumes that pitchers can’t control what happens if a batter gets his bat on the ball but doesn’t hit a home run. Hammel’s start today brings that into question a bit. He ended up allowing 10 hits and they weren’t many, if any, lucky ones in the bunch. 5 of them went for extra bases and there were more than a few line drives hit directly at fielders that prevented Hammel from have a significantly worse day. Baseball Savant says that Hammel allowed 10 batted balls of 100+ MPH exit velocity. 4 somehow turned into outs, including a Jose Iglesias double-play grounder.
Abraham Almonte delivered another sixth-inning home run for what was the Royals only earned run. Alex Gordon also drove home Lucas Duda in the ninth when he convinced Leonys Martin to do a header on a flyball to center instead of catching it but that counts as an unearned run.
The Royals may have suffered at the hands of home plate umpire Laz Diaz. He called several strikes on pitches that appeared to be well outside the strike zone, especially against left-handed Royals hitters. This was particularly problematic when Mike Moustakas batted with the bases loaded in in the fifth inning. Zimmermann tossed two such pitches that were called for strikes to quickly put Mike behind 0-2. That additionally forced Moose to swing hopelessly at what ended up being strike three in a similar spot. But the Royals only managed five hits, all day, so the blame probably belongs more on their bats than the strike zone.
Jason Adam, Blue Valley Northwest graduate, also made his debut, today. He walked one, allowed a hit, and struck out one. He even got a butt pat and a few words of encouragement from Tigers veteran Victor Martinez. At least on TV, his fastball looked like it was for real and his breaking balls looked very nasty. He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch pitch, the rest of this year.
The good news is that the Royals have another shot at winning the series, tomorrow. Jakob Junis (3-2, 3.29 ERA) will take the mound against Matt Boyd (1-2, 2.48 ERA). Considering the ERA, offenses, and run support numbers for both pitchers it could easily be a pitcher’s duel. So you should probably expect a 13-7 final.