Orioles' offense takes the pressure off the bullpen
BALTIMORE – What a difference two days made for the Orioles. After their rotation looked battered and their closer teetering, they won their second straight game on Wednesday night, and looked forward to watching their phenom, Kevin Gausman, debut on Thursday.
Thanks to Jason Hammel’s 6 2/3 innings, the Orioles were able to beat the New York Yankees 6-3 before 26,725 at Oriole Park.
The Orioles (25-21) started the homestand with a six-game losing streak, but ended it on a happier note.
Beating the Yankees two of three improved the Orioles record to 11-10 against the AL East. They have four games in Toronto beginning Thursday.
“Any time a division rival comes in you want to try to win the series, especially when you’re at home. Like I said, we avoided the snowball effect to some degree and were able to get back on track,” Chris Davis said.
Hammel’s start was the Orioles’ fourth straight with a starter lasting at least six, a first for the team, and his 6 2/3 equaled a season high.
After five straight starts of six innings, Hammel had completed six in three of his previous four. He allowed two runs and six hits, walking two and striking out six.
“That's the Ham we saw last year. That's the guy I expect every time he goes out," Matt Wieters said.
Hammel threw lots of pitches in the first three innings then allowed just two baserunners in the final three.
The Orioles are 8-2 in games he starts, even though he hasn’t pitched up to his standards. Hammel didn’t have much success against New York. Entering the game, he had a 5.82 ERA in 15 appearances.
The Orioles scored three runs in the first off Hiroki Kuroda. With two outs, Nick Markakis hit a home run to right, his fourth. After Adam Jones singled, Davis hit a long two-run home run for a 3-0 lead. That gave Davis the American League lead with 14 home runs.
Davis is pleased to see the Orioles starters working deep into games.
“It’s something you’re always happy to see. You want to take a little
pressure off the bullpen, they’ve been working hard early on and we’re going to need those guys down the stretch. But it’s good to see guys get in their groove especially here the weather is starting to heat up, hitters are starting to heat up and our guys are really carrying the load for us lately,” Davis said.
In the third, New York (28-18) scored a run off Hammel (6-2) on a double by Curtis Granderson and a single by Robinson Cano.
In the bottom of the third, Jones led off with a double. Davis followed with a single, and Kuroda (6-3) left with a bruised right calf.
Kuroda allowed five runs and eight hits in two-plus innings, quite a contrast to the dazzling five-hit shutout he threw on Apr. 14
“We talked about him. I think we had a little bit better plan this time. He’s been really effective against us,” Davis said.
“I think we were a little bit more patient today. We made him throw strikes. He’s really tough when he’s down in the zone. It obviously helped to get him out of the game early, but I thought we had some good swings on him.”
Wieters greeted Preston Claiborne with a three-run home run to right-center for a 6-1 lead.
Granderson hit his first home run of the year in the fifth to cut the lead to 6-2.
Brian Matusz pitched a hitless 1 1/3 innings. Darren O’Day allowed a leadoff home run to David Adams in the ninth then retired the next three batters to close the game, and the Orioles had their two-game winning streak.
“There’s a difference between being paranoid and being alert, OK. And our guys are alert to what’s around every corner. Just because something good happens or something bad happens doesn’t mean it’s going to continue unless you stay on top of your business, and this group will,” Showalter said.
“I’ve been accused of being paranoid. I like to consider myself alert.”
NOTES: Davis tied a career high with four hits. It was the second time this season and the fifth in his career he’d done it.
-Nate McLouth stole his 14th base in 15 tries to lead the AL. The only time he was thrown out was on an unsuccessful suicide squeeze.
-The Orioles must make room on both the 25 and 40-man rosters for Gausman. Jake Arrieta could be cut from the 25-man though Showalter hinted he could use a short bench for now. Josh Stinson, Alex Burnett and Mike Belfiore are candidates to be cut from the 40-man.
-In Gausman’s major league debut on Thursday in Toronto, he’ll face Brandon Morrow (1-3, 5.16).