I don't know whether to criticize Jason Hammel for allowing a run in each of the first three innings or praise him for minimizing the damage. Admonish him for the nine baserunners or admire his escape routine.
I'll choose all of the above.
Hammel has allowed three runs and eight hits in three innings, with one walk and two strikeouts. He's thrown 54 pitches, 33 for strikes. He forced manager Buck Showalter to phone the bullpen, where T.J. McFarland began to warm up.
However, the Royals again put runners on second and third with no outs and couldn't expand their lead.
The Royals are 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and have stranded five. Hammel either becomes very good or very lucky.
Hammel has twice allowed 10 hits this season. He's two shy, and we're only in the top of the fourth.
Hammel is still looking for his first win since May 27 in Washington, a span of eight starts. He just can't put away hitters.
I don't know the length of Hammel's leash, and I'm not talking about tonight's start, but I do know that left-hander Zach Britton allowed six runs (four earned) and seven hits in three innings in Game 1 of Triple-A Norfolk's doubleheader against Pawtucket. He walked two and struck out two.
His brother, Buck, went 3-for-3 with three RBIs.
Update: Believe it or not, Hammel made it through six innings and turned in the Orioles' ninth quality start in their last 10 games.
Hammel allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings, with four walks and four strikeouts. He threw 107 pitches, 63 for strikes.
Hammel has allowed 20 hits in his last two starts over 12 innings. He will remain winless since May 27. However, he somehow kept the Orioles in tonight's game.
The Royals are 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and have stranded 10. Hammel was Houdini tonight.
Former Oriole Bruce Chen retired the last 10 Orioles he faced before leaving the game. That's Bruce Chen, folks.
Slop-throwing lefties have a tendency to tie the Orioles in knots.
Update II: What a tease.
The Orioles cut the Royals' lead to one run in the ninth, had a runner on third base with no outs and couldn't push across the tying run in a 3-2 loss to the Royals that ended their winning streak at five games.
The Orioles didn't have a hit since Machado's home run in the third until Nick Markakis led off the ninth with a single off Greg Holland. Adam Jones followed with his first triple, and the Orioles were in business.
Chris Davis struck out on a pitch in the dirt, J.J. Hardy bounced to third and Henry Urrutia bounced to first. Game over.
The Orioles are 13-15 in one-run games.