Despite a rough beginning to his tenure in Oakland, Jason Hammel remains a part of the Athletics' starting rotation.
The right-hander tries to avoid a fifth loss in as many starts with his new team Tuesday night against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.Hammel (0-4, 9.53 ERA) went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 17 starts for the Chicago Cubs before they traded him and Jeff Samardzija to Oakland (68-43) for four minor leaguers July 4. Since then, Hammel has allowed 20 runs, 26 hits and walked 10 with 12 strikeouts over 17 innings.He gave up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings of an 8-1 loss at Houston on Wednesday."There's not much to explain," Hammel said. "I'm a completely different pitcher. Just keep making the same mistakes over and over. Right now it doesn't look too good but it's a long season and I've been through this before."With last week's addition of Jon Lester to an already stellar rotation that includes Samardzija, fellow All-Star Scott Kazmir and youngster Sonny Gray, whom both own 12-4 records, the A's opted to move eight-game winner Jesse Chavez to the bullpen and give Hammel a chance to work things out as a starter."(Hammel's) track record would suggest we need to be a little bit more patient with him, and I think good things are going to come from him," manager Bob Melvin said. "You don't have a (2.98 ERA) and not give a guy a chance to prove himself here."Pitching for Baltimore the past two seasons, Hammel went 1-2 with a 5.19 ERA in five starts against Tampa Bay (54-58).After dropping four of six, Oakland won 3-2 in 10 innings on Monday. Derek Norris drove home the winning run with a two-out single off former Athletic closer Grant Balfour to help the major league-leading A's maintain their one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.The defeat snapped the Rays' eight-game winning streak on the road, where they are 16-4 since losing 10 in a row.A loser in four of five since an 11-1 stretch, Tampa Bay has totaled seven runs while dropping three one-run contests during a four-game slide at Oakland.Part of the three-team trade that sent ace David Price to Detroit last week, Drew Smyly (6-9, 3.93) makes his Tampa Bay debut Tuesday."You're not going to replace David Price," Smyly said. "The Rays made the trade, they wanted me, so I'm going to do the best I can and try to learn from them and get better every game. I'm just doing me."The left-hander allowed four runs and 11 hits over five innings while not getting a decision in the Tigers' 7-4 win Thursday over the Chicago White Sox on the same day he was traded.Smyly was roughed up for six runs and four solo homers in five innings of a 10-0 loss at Oakland on May 26.Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson each homered off Smyly in that contest.Moss, however, is 2 for 28 with 10 strikeouts in his last seven games. Donaldson is 1 for 11 in the last three.Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist hit .486 during a nine-game hitting streak that ended with an 0-for-4 night Monday.He's 6 for 12 with a homer and two doubles versus Hammel.
Evan Longoria has hit .372 in at-bats to end in a curveball this season, the ninth-best mark among qualifiers and over 125 points higher than his average against all other pitches. Sonny Gray has thrown a curveball on 27.5 percent of pitches, the third-highest rate in the league.
Since joining the Athletics on July 4, Jason Hammel has allowed a .423 ISO in at-bats ending with his fastball, which is 274 points above the league average. Over that same span, the Tampa Bay Rays have an ISO of .122 in at-bats ending with a fastball, which is the fourth-lowest rate in MLB.