Most athletes will tell you that they aren’t big on placing blame after losses, and I would tend to agree with them. All sports are team games, whether it’s baseball, football, basketball, etc. (I suppose one could throw golf or tennis in as an individual event, but you get my point.) However if there’s ever blame to be placed in a loss, I can’t put it on the shoulders of Jason Hammel, who pitched his tail off in last night’s 2-1 loss to Tampa. Hammel’s line: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K. Hammel has fastball command and then some for the first six innings of his outing, and he totally shut down Tampa’s offense.
One might wonder if the bats of the Baltimore Orioles aren’t going into a bit of a slump in that they only put three runs on the board Thursday in Houston, and of course only one last night. However neverminding the Houston game keep in mind that when you play the Tampa Rays you’re going to go up against some great pitching. Tampa starter Chris Archer kept the Orioles in check for seven innings, inducing lots of balls in play that led to outs. The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Chris Dickerson drew a one-out walk and later advanced to second base on a wild pitch by Archer. That put the O’s in business with a runner in scoring position, and Dickerson later scored on Manny Machado‘s RBI-single to center field following a Nate McLouth walk. McLouth ended up at third base, however Nick Markakis flied out to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh Hammel started to tire, as his pitches started to run up in the strike zone. James Loney led off the inning with a single, followed by a Desmond Jennings two-run homer to give Tampa a 2-1 lead that would eventually stand up as the final score. Hammel hung a silder that caught too much of the plate and it ended up in the seats. With two outs in the inning Hammel allowed a single and a walk, which prompted Buck Showalter to lift him in favor of Troy Patton who recorded the final out. Hammel’s a professional and he understands the whole idea of lifting a starter to get the win, however there’s no doubt that he desperately wanted to get that final out so as to give his offense a shot to at least tie the game in the eighth inning and possibly take the lead. Hammel ends up being what we call a hard-luck loser, and that happens quite frequently in baseball. In fact with the number of home runs and thus runs scored in games overall going down, it’s something we’re seeing much more of overall.
While Tampa gained some ground on the O’s last night, Orioles fans should take solace in the fact that Seattle beat New York late last night at Safeco Field. Part of the frustration in a sense is that New York (as well as Boston, who was post phoned last night due to rain) seems to be in in this “holding pattern” of sorts where they win and lose in accordance with the O’s, thus bringing them to an impasse. Nevertheless, the series continues today with a late afternoon start at 4 PM. Kevin Gausman will get his fourth start at the big league level after a gem of a start Sunday against Detroit in which he was non-decisioned. He’ll be opposed by Jeremy Hellickson of Tampa, a pitcher whom the Orioles have already touched up a bit this season.