It wasn’t always easy for Hammel, but he made it through the sixth and held the White Sox to two runs while also tying his career high with 10 strikeouts.
“We elongated an inning behind him today with the wild pitch, couple other things that got his pitch count up,” Showalter said. “There would be a lot of things to dissect in a ballgame like that, but you’ll always go back to the guy who pitched six innings and pitched well. I thought he had a little tick above crispness and stuff that he’s had in any outing.
“He hasn’t given in to the lure of, ‘Ah, it’s just one of those days.’ He keeps battling, and he’s in a good place mentally right now. He loves being in Baltimore. He’s been a great teammate who’s fit in very quickly and I think you’re seeing the result of the atmosphere that he’s in.”
Adam Jones doubled in a run in the first and hit a two-run homer in the fifth. He apparently likes batting in the cleanup spot.
“So far. We were going to move it around, but I think we’ll hold off for a while,” Showalter said, grinning.
“I think the best at-bat was the ball he hit into right-center field over the second baseman’s head. That ball’s a little off the plate and he’s trying not to do too much. Didn’t get too emotional there and set up a breaking ball in a breaking ball count. I think he knew he was going to get a breaking ball with first base open, 3-2, and was sitting on it on the home run.”
The Orioles already have won two road series this year as they head to Anaheim for a third.
“I do know a common denominator of teams that are competitive is they play well on the road,” Showalter said, “and so far, so good.”
Hammel said his stuff was “probably comparable” to his first start, when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Twins, “but not nearly as efficient as the first game.”
“Actually, a lot like the second game,” he said. “First two innings, I threw way too many pitches. First three innings, I guess, today, but way too many pitches early. I’ve got to do a better job to get deeper in the game. Six innings is OK, but you want seven or eight innings.”
As for the 10 strikeouts, Hammel said, “I don’t know. I made some good pitches, executed with two strikes pretty well today. They’re a very aggressive team, too, so they’re going to swing at bad stuff if you get ahead in the count.
“I attribute a lot of what’s going on now to figuring things out toward the end of last year. Just changing my focus on the mound and it’s really changed my whole demeanor and the way I go about my business. When I’m not necessarily at my best, I can still find a way to get through it, so I think i learned some stuff at the end of last year and I’m just trying to build on that.
The Orioles improved to 8-5 with the win. They can do no worse than 5-5 on this trip.
“We’re going to play good baseball,” Hammel said. It’s still early in the season, but this is what we prepared for in spring training, working hard. The season’s going to be a grind and we’re going to have our ups and downs, but we’re going to play good baseball and we can control that.”