Orioles manager Buck Showalter spent most of his postgame media session talking about Jason Hammel, and with good reason. We kept asking him about the right-hander, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in the Orioles’ 3-1 victory over the Twins.
“That was fun,” Showalter said. “I thought he had a shot at it. He was carrying that type of stuff. He had all four pitches going. Not that anybody was thinking about it.
“I’m not going to give anybody up, but there were a couple of our guys who didn’t even know it was a no-hitter, it was moving so fast. What do they say, ignorance is bliss? Wish I could get in there. I know I’ve got the ignorant part down. It’s just the bliss doesn’t come too easily.”
The game lasted 2 hours, 14 minutes. Yes, it was moving fast.
The ball kept moving on the ground. The Twins had two fly balls and three strikeouts going into the eighth.
“He was a guy who wasn’t really throwing a sinker until three weeks ago,” Showalter said.
“Talking with some of our guys who saw him in the National League, it’s something he didn’t have over there. He was pretty much all four-seam, cross-seam. He was carrying pretty good velocity today. That will creep down as the season goes on and the adrenaline’s not quite what it was today, I’m sure. It was more than just the sinker, though. He had good command of all his pitches.”
Hammel lost his no-hitter on Justin Morneau’s leadoff double in the eighth, and his shutout on Josh Willingham’s double. He struck out two of the next three batters and got a fly ball to end the inning.
“Probably the most impressive thing about today was after he gave up the no-hitter and got in a little bind there, a lot of people pull the dirt in around them. It was probably the most impressive thing today,” Showalter said.
So why did Showalter stay with Hammel after the back-to-back doubles and the one-out walk to Sean Burroughs?
“It was his ability that allowed you to,” Showalter replied. “He deserved a chance. As long as he’s carrying his stuff and his pitch counts down, he deserved the chance to win or lose his own ballgame, unless there’s some physical issues or whatever. There’s a lot of variables that come into it. I just thought he deserved the chance there at his own game.”
The Orioles took a lead in all three games of this series with a first- or second-inning home run. Today, J.J. Hardy did the honors in the first.
“He’s done it before,” Showalter said. “He can ambush you. He’s got quick hands. I was talking to Jim (Presley) today. Maybe it was my mood today. It was such a beautiful day and the weather was perfect and everything, but the sound of the ball off J.J.’s bat last year and this year is just very distinct. It’s a really pretty sound. There are two or three guys who are like that, too. When he squares a ball up, it just has a different square-up sound. It’s fun to listen to. I hope we get to the point where we have enough people in the stands that we can’t hear it.”
The Orioles pulled off a double steal in the sixth with Adam Jones and Nick Johnson that led to two runs when Wilson Betemit doubled.
“Brian Roberts, the contribution he’s made, he’s been working with some of our guys, two or three of them, some of the methods that have made him so prolific in stealing bases,” Showalter said. “I swear if I didn’t know better, the way Robby does it, Adam’s like a copy of it. Robby had a big smile on his face after the game. That was all Adam, (Roberts) will be the first to tell you, but there’s a certain method that you follow if you do it the way Robby does, it’s been real successful. It’s hard to teach. It requires a lot of instincts and a lot of work watching tape.”