What will get lost in the Orioles’ 2-1 loss (and shouldn’t) is the performance of Jason Hammel, who turned in another quality start Monday night. Hammel held a lethal Yankees lineup in check over six innings, allowing five hits and two walks in his first loss this season. His one mistake was a two-seamer that never moved and Eric Chavez crushed for a two-run homer.
Making his first start against the Yankees in more than four years, Hammel — who has been the Orioles’ most effective starter — kept right on rolling in giving Baltimore six strong innings. He hasn’t allowed more than six hits in a single start so far this year. Hammel was, as manager Buck Showalter pointed out, the reason they were in that game and he continues to show signs of being a reliable rotation guy this season. The 29-year-old has allowed two earned runs or less and pitched at least five innings in all five games this year and is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA.
It’s still very early in the season, but Hammel’s rediscovering of the two-seamer — which, for the most part has been highly effective — and his newfound confidence really have him looking like a different pitcher than in years past. I covered him as an associate reporter for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 and, to me, he just looks like a different guy on the mound. Twice tonight two New York reporters brought up the same point.
Hammel has 30 strikeouts and 10 walks over his first 32 innings.