It’s become routine.
“I felt good,” he said after being charged with two runs in 6 2/3 innings in an 8-2 victory over the Red Sox. “I was able to establish the strike zone early and a big inning really takes the stress out of the situation. I was able to open up the strike zone and just attack.
“Two-seamer was running a lot today, but I still had a pretty good feel for it. I just focused on being down in the zone. They’re a pretty patient ballclub and they have a tight zone. I threw too many pitches early again, and I really wanted to get through the seventh. Obviously, the run support’s nice and I really wanted to give the bullpen a night off after last night.”
Hammel said he didn’t run out of gas in the seventh.
“It was more or less the ball was starting to come up a little bit,” he said. “I still felt strong, but my execution was a little off.”
His lead was pretty big. The Orioles sent 10 batters to the plate in the third inning, scored seven runs on seven hits and took a commanding lead.
“It’s huge, it’s huge,” he said. “After a while, it’s like, ‘Come on, guys, that’s enough.’ I want to get back out there and start pitching, because the break can get too long. But I’m never going to shy away from run support.
“It’s huge to come over here, especially in this territory here. Another very, very strong offense on the other side. We get out to a big lead and I can open up the zone instead of having to nibble and things like that.”
So what’s it mean to win back-to-back series in New York and Boston?
“We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s not changed our mentality,” Hammel said. “We know what we can do and we’re having fun. We’re not putting too much pressure on ourselves. We’ve done it in spring training. I don’t know, maybe it’s just great timing for everybody. Kind of doing it all together at the same time. But there isn’t anything that we’ve changed. We’re still a baseball club and we’re just having fun. It’s a good group of guys in there and we’re pushing for each other.”
Hammel was asked to compare the Orioles to the Tampa Bay and Colorado teams he pitched for prior to the winter trade that brought him to Baltimore.
“Guys are just hanging out, keeping it loose,” he said. “We’re not trying to overpressure ourselves and trying to do too much. Most managers say, ‘I’m not going to ask you to do something you can’t do,’ and Buck’s doing a great job of that. He’s going out and putting us out there in situations where we can excel. He’s not trying to ask too much of us or asking us to do things we’re not great at.
“I think we’re picking each other up really good. We’re getting a steady diet of great pitching and timely hitting and good defense. Today, we may have had a couple hiccups, but when we need to make a play, guys are stepping up.”
Before today, Hammel was 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA and one save in six games at Fenway Park.
“I remember having one of my greatest pitching moments ever here, in September late in 2008, coming in late to close a game for Troy Percival,” he said. “This is one of my favorite parks to pitch in. I love it. The fans, the nostalgia, the history here. You get educated hecklers here. You don’t just get the guys who yell, ‘You suck.’ Guys actually research you and they’ll come at you with something that actually makes you laugh.”
Hammel got the last laugh today.