Showalter endorses Hammel for All-Star Game

Orioles manager Buck Showalter filled out his All-Star ballot today. He also has a good relationship with Rangers manager Ron Washington, who will be in charge of the American League team.

Maybe it will work in Jason Hammel's favor.

Hammel continues to pitch like an All-Star. He hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 19 innings, and he improved to 8-2 with a 2.61 ERA tonight - the sixth-lowest ERA in the league.

Should he be an All-Star?

"I think he should be a strong consideration," Showalter said. "I'm biased. I get to see him pitch every fifth day.

"I can't imagine a guy having a much better year than he's having."

Showalter removed Hammel after eight innings and 96 pitches.

"The other thing is we're contemplating pitching him on normal rest his next time out," Showalter said. "Another reason why I was trying to keep him under 100 tonight."

Hammel was coming off a one-hit shutout of the Braves in Atlanta. He allowed one unearned run and five hits tonight, with no walks and 10 strikeouts.

"His outings the last two times out, and really most of the year, have been fun to watch," Showalter said. "When you have command of that many pitches in your repertoire and you put him and (Matt) Wieters on the same team, you like your chances. And he probably should have had eight shutout. He was outstanding."

Once again, Showalter was asked about Hammel figuring it out last September after being demoted to Colorado's bullpen.

hammel black nats sidebar.jpg"It depends what your want-to level is, if you're satsified with, I don't want to say mediocrity, but satisfied with where you are. And it's pretty obvious that Hamm made a real commitment with about a month to go in the season last year and I'm just glad to see him get a return for what he's put into it," Showalter said.

"He's a pleasant guy and a good guy to be around, but on game day, he's got a little different look in his eye."

Hammel's eyes were pretty wide when Nationals catcher Jesus Flores smoked a line drive with two on and two outs in the seventh inning. Shortstop J.J. Hardy made a leaping catch to preserve the one-run lead.

Did Showalter think Hardy would get high enough in the air to glove it?

"I think he's got a shot because of where we're playing him," Showalter replied. "I was kidding J.J. coming by. I asked what his vertical was like and he said, 'I don't know. I was a little fearful coming down. I know it was a long way down.' But it's typical of why he's one of the best shortstops in baseball, because he's so good at positioning himself, too. But we were fortunate. They hit some balls hard that we caught."

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