Mark Reynolds was in a 1-for-15 slump, with no hits in his last 11 at-bats, before stepping to the plate for the first time tonight.
One swing, and he felt right at home.
Reynolds hit his sixth home run of the season to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. He admired it for a few seconds before heading to first base. A typical no-doubter to left field.
Reynolds rarely hits a cheap one.
The Orioles have four hits in three innings off Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. That’s quite an outburst following their struggles on the road.
Rain continues to fall as we begin the top of the fourth. A 1:01 delay to start the game may not be the last one tonight.
Jason Hammel has allowed one hit in three innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. That’s two hits over 12 scoreless innings in his last two starts.
Hammel was charged with an error in the third inning tonight, but it probably should have gone to Reynolds. That’s a tough one to pin on Hammel.
Instant update: The call has been changed. Score it E-3.
Down on the farm, Chris Tillman tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk. He allowed five hits, walked none, struck out eight and hit a batter. He threw 95 pitches, 63 for strikes.
That’s way too many pitches for 5 1/3 innings, but he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.
I talked to someone in the organization earlier today who brought up Tillman’s name, mentioning how well the right-hander has been pitching. So he’s been gone, but he’s not forgotten.
Update: J.J. Hardy ended a 1-for-25 slump with a two-out RBI double in the fifth inning that gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
Nick Johnson was hit by a pitch and Brian Roberts singled before Hardy came to the plate.
Hammel gave up an unearned run in the top of the fifth on Reynolds’ second error of the night after Ian Desmond reached on an infield hit and went from first to third on a ground ball to Wilson Betemit. Reynolds threw the ball away, and Desmond came home.
Tonight’s attendance: 45,891, the fourth sellout of the season at Camden Yards.
Update II: Hardy made a leaping catch to rob Jesus Flores and end the seventh inning after the Nationals put two runners on base. The Orioles still lead, 2-1, thanks to his web gem.
Hammel retired the side in order only only five pitches in the eighth. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 19 innings.
Hammel has held the Nationals to one unearned run and five hits tonight, with no walks and 10 strikeouts - tying his career high. Jim Johnson is warming, so Hammel apparently is done after 96 pitches.
The offense still is scuffling to score runs, but Hammel continues to pitch like an All-Star.
Update III: Johnson walked Ian Desmond with two outs in the ninth, but he caught Danny Espinosa’s liner to end the game.
Johnson has 21 saves, matching his career total coming into this season.
The Orioles were 1-for-7 with RISP and stranded six runners. The offense remains in a funk. But Hammel made it easy to overlook tonight.