Shortly after last night’s 5-0 win in Atlanta, MASN’s Amber Theoharis sent out a tweet which I think was meant to give kudos to a fellow reporter. However what it also did was call out ESPN for not announcing to the world that the Orioles’ Jason Hammel was throwing a no-hitter through six innings in Atlanta. On one hand, I’m an extremely superstitious man in all avenues of life and I’d rather not have something like that mentioned by ESPN or anyone else. On the other hand, it does seem like they “announce” when a guy on another team is tossing a no-no or a perfect game. To illustrate this further, I found out at about 11:30 last night that Ervin Santana of the Angels was throwing a perfect game…via ESPN’s crawl. (Santana would end up with a one-hitter.)
So am I up on a soap box? Admittedly perhaps just a little bit. While I am the type that would rather not have the potential feat mentioned while it’s occurring, if it seems like they let the world know when someone else is doing something special it would stand to reason that they should do it when it’s an Oriole pitcher as well. Nevertheless, Hammel gave up his lone hit of the night to Jason Heyward with two outs in the last of the seventh last night. It’s really easy to say that this was Hammel’s best outing as an Oriole given the stat line (9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K). However the fact is that his “stuff” was better than I’d ever seen it. His breaking pitches were being dropped into the strike zone like a golf shot up on the green. Another impressive feat is that Hammel threw a complete game over 103 pitches. (Which incidentally gives a huge shot in the arm to a bullpen that’s already performing well.) However you figure that in striking out eight hitters that’s a lot of pitches right there. On hitters that didn’t strike out, Hammel wasted no time and was very economical.
Nevermind the potential no-hitter, but in terms of actually winning the game the Birds caught a break early on. Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy retired the first 11 Oriole batters before Chris Davis drew a walk. Beachy appeared to be going blow-for-blow with Hammel, however he was lifted after the Davis walk due to elbow soreness. (On a side note, Beachy looks like a great young pitching talent and I hope that he’s not injured too badly.) Unfortunately for Beachy, Anthony Varvaro came in and walked the next two batters to load the bases (before the Orioles even had registered a base hit). Mark Reynolds quickly lessened the traffic on the base paths with a two-RBI single to left field, scoring Davis and Adam Jones. Unfortunately for Beachy, he was responsible for Davis so he ended up taking the loss in a game where he was shaping up to have a great outing.
Jason Hammel also participated at the plate with a sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning that moved Steve Pearce over to second base. Pearce would later score on Brian Roberts’ RBI-single (in which Roberts was gunned down trying to advance to second base). However the main story of the night was Hammel on the mound. To put this into a historical context, Hammel became the first Oriole pitcher to throw a one-hit shutout since Mike Mussina in 2000. (Daniel Cabrera threw a one-hitter in 2006 against the Yankees without giving up an earned run, however NY did get one unearned off of an error.) It’s also worth giving some kudos to Buck Showalter for adding a touch of class to this effort as well. It almost goes without saying that when a guy has a no-hitter going that late in the game it would be tough to justify removing him from the game barring an injury. However once a hit has been recorded it turns into a regular game in theory. With a 5-0 lead the game was all but decided, yet Showalter sent Jason Hammel out to take his turn at the plate in the ninth inning, all but guaranteeing that he’d pitch the ninth. There’s no doubt that Hammel deserved to finish that game on the mound and receive the accolades of his teammates.
The Orioles have a chance to win the series in this afternoon’s finale as Wei-Yin Chen takes to the mound, as well as to the plate again. We all remember the last time that he swung a bat in Washington when his ineptitude seemed to carry over onto the mound. However Chen’s righted himself since then, and he’ll be pitching in pitcher-friendly Turner Field. He’ll be opposed by Randall Delgado, who issued six walks in his last start against the Yankees. Oriole bats might want to try their patience in this afternoon’s game, and that goes for Chen as well. Nobody’s asking Chen to replicate what Hammel did yesterday, however he is being taxed with holding the Braves to fewer runs than the Orioles put on the board.
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