The Orioles have claimed consecutive series wins over the Blue Jays for the first time since May 25-27 and July 10-12, 2009.
Jason Hammel is 4-0 in seven career starts against the Jays, and his teams have won all seven games.
The Orioles have won all four games that Hammel has started this season. He blanked the Jays on four hits over seven innings tonight, with one walk and seven strikeouts.
“Hammel was good,” manager Buck Showalter said. “The two-seamer and the four-seamer. He’s got a lot of different speeds. Throws the slider and the curveball and the two-seamer. Mixes in a changeup, so you’re talking about different planes and three different speeds when you command it.
“You take away two errors and the unfortunate call at first base, he’s probably got 20-25 more pitches. It was a bang-bang play, but if we had that one go our way, you’re talking about a guy probably pitching eight or nine innings.”
Hammel has 17 strikeouts in his last two starts. I asked whether the Orioles knew the strikeouts were part of the package when they traded for Hammel.
“We knew exactly what he ...n o,” Showalter said, grinning. “You read a lot of stuff and you do your homework on stuff other than statistics. So far, so good with him. I’m proud of him. You can tell he’s in a good place, in more ways than one, and he’s a good teammate.
“One thing I’ve noticed is he’s a real game-watcher. He’s a student. He watches. And keep in mind he hasn’t been in this league in quite a while.”
Hammel exudes confidence on the mound.
“I just think he’s dealing with reality as far as, ‘OK, If I make good pitches and I can repeat my delivery ... ,’” Showalter said. “He doesn’t get too far ahead of himself. It’s kind of like being on the 16th hole and thinking about the 17th and 18th hole. He’s dwelling on what he’s playing. If something happens that means he’s got to face another hitter, he goes and gets it.
“I was hoping to get five or six out of him, and all of a sudden he got into the seventh inning for us, which really shortened the workload in the ‘pen.
“Matt Lindstrom was outstanding. Faced 1, 2, 3 hitters and the game was 2-0. Adam (Jones) had a big tack-on run, something that’s a sign you’re playing good baseball. I thought (Ryan) Flaherty turned the double play with Rajai Davis right on top of him. Adam (Jones) went in hard there at second.”
Pedro Strop has two saves in two nights. He survived a leadoff single and an infield hit tonight.
“A guy kind of blocked a ball out to left field and the other one, probably if he lets it go is a double play, where we were playing him. But he’s an infielder by trade. He’s now a pitcher,” Showalter said.
“That’s a reaction. You’re going to try to get that ball. If he catches it, it’s probably a double play. He made two good pitches, but good hitters do things.”
The Jays had been dominating the Orioles before this season, going 27-9 the last two years, but Baltimore has taken four of the first five games in 2012.
“I didn’t know that and our guys don’t know it out there and that’s why you don’t dwell on looking back,” Showalter said. “We’re trying to look forward. They were playing real good baseball coming in there and will again probably tomorrow. We just pitched real well tonight.
“When you pitch well, things look a lot crisper, even though we made a couple errors we probably shouldn’t have made.”
Hammel has won three games this month. Jeremy Guthrie, traded to the Rockies over the winter for Hammel and Lindstrom, won three games in the same month six times in his Orioles career. Hammel has a chance at a fourth win, something Guthrie did one time.
“So far it’s good,” Showalter said of the trade. “Jeremy’s going to pitch real well over there. He already is. You hope it works out for both teams, so the next time you have something in mind... We look at it as quality for quality, So far, so good.”
Showalter provided an update on reliever Jim Johnson, who remains hospitalized.
“Moving along little by little,” he said. “I don’t think his availability is imminent. I don’t expect him to be released tonight, from what I’ve heard.”