There were several things Jason Hammel had never done entering his start in Atlanta Saturday night. In five career starts, he’d never beaten the Braves. He’d never thrown a shutout in his career. He’d never thrown a no-hitter. He now can cross two of those things off his bucket list. He came extremely close to crossing them all off.
Hammel’s performance was absolutely masterful, coming just 7 outs away from tossing a no-hitter in his first win against Atlanta, and claiming his first career shutout, 5-0. His walk to Dan Uggla in the second inning was the last batter Hammel (W, 7-2) allowed on base until 2 men were out in the 7th, a stretch of 17 up, and 17 down.
Early on, though, Hammel wasn’t the best pitcher in this game. Braves starter Brandon Beachy (L, 5-5) actually got off to a better start than his Orioles counterpart, setting down the first 11 batters he would face. After issuing a 2-out walk to Chris Davis in the 4th, Beachy was pulled with an ailing elbow. He was relieved by Anthony Varvaro, who walked the next 2 batters, then gave up a 2-run single to Mark Reynolds for a 2-0 Orioles lead. Brian Roberts knocked in Steve Pearce with a single in the 5th, and delivered a 2-run hit in the 7th, scoring Pearce and Wilson Betemit.
Hammel would have his no-hit bid ruined by Braves right fielder Jason Heyward, who stroked an opposite field base hit on a 3-2 pitch. Uggla, who’d drawn his second walk of the game just before Heyward’s hit, advanced to third, and the Braves had a chance to make it a ball game. But Eric Hinske flew out to Adam Jones in center on the first pitch he saw, and Hammel set down the Braves in order in the 8th and 9th to give the Orioles their first 1-hitter since Daniel Cabrera one-hit the Yankees in late September, 2006.
The birds and Braves wrap up their weekend series Sunday afternoon at 1:35. Wei-Yin Chen (6-2, 3.68) goes for the Orioles, against Atlanta’s Randall Delgado (4-6, 4.34).
- Hammel’s dominating performance came against one of the teams he’s struggled the most against in his career. Prior to Saturday, Hammel had an 0-3 record and a 9 ERA in 5 career starts against Atlanta. This was his second career complete game, and the first 9-inning complete game of his career. With a 7-2 record and an ERA of 2.87, he’s not only the ace of this staff, an argument could be made that he’s the MVP of the team. And when considering who should represent the Orioles in Kansas City for this year’s All-Star team, it’s nearly impossible to think about Hammel not making the squad (along with Adam Jones and Jim Johnson. And cases can be made for Chris Davis, JJ Hardy and Matt Wieters, also). Everyone who questioned the trade of Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for Hammel and Matt Lindstrom has, by now, jumped on the band wagon.
- The Yankees remain incredibly hot. They beat Washington in 14 innings Saturday, 5-3, for their 8th straight win. They continue to lead the Orioles by a game and a half in the AL East.