The Orioles won and the Yankees lost, creating another first-place tie in the American League East.
Too bad the Orioles weren’t in the mood to celebrate.
They’re fairly low-key to begin with, and Jason Hammel’s early exit with pain in his surgically repaired right knee put a real damper on the night.
The Orioles will have their resiliency put to the test again.
“I don’t ever take it for granted,” manager Buck Showalter said following a 9-2 win over the Rays before 23,828 at Camden Yards. “This is a very mentally tough group. There is no guy that puts himself above the group. Nothing they do really ... I’ve come to not be surprised. Fortunately, I have a good seat to watch it. Very professional, hard-driving group that have their minds set on a goal.”
Five relievers followed Hammel to the mound and held the Rays to one run - Elliot Johnson’s home run off Darren O’Day in the eighth - over 5 1/3 innings.
Steve Johnson replaced Hammel with two outs in the fourth and a 1-0 count on Matt Joyce, who eventually walked.
“Stevie did a good job for us,” Showalter said. “He had three days off. Didn’t want to take him much more than 30 (pitches).
“He comes from a good pedigree and he’s been in this ballpark many times, and obviously his dad’s been a source of reality and pitching. And it’s a great example that if you do the job ... he understands what the job description is here, and he went down to Norfolk and did it and got the opportunity and didn’t miss the chance. We have some people capable of helping us withstand some early exits that we’ve had.”
The Rays don’t usually give up nine runs, not with their pitching, but the Orioles chased left-hander Matt Moore after four innings and 94 pitches.
“I think the big thing was grinding some at-bats against Moore, who’s got a great arm and is having and is going to have a good year,” Showalter said. “To get him out of there early, we were fortunate. But a lot of it had to do with the type of at-bats that our guys had.
“We caught him on an off night a little bit and took advantage of it. We were fortunate because he’s got one of those types of arms where you know what’s coming and he can still do it to you. But our guys did a good job with him and also took advantage of him having an uncharacteristically tough night.”
J.J. Hardy had four hits, including two home runs, and five RBIs.
“J.J.’s just such a steady human being,” Showalter said. “That part means as much to our club as what he does statistically. We have the great fortune of being around J.J. every day and how he approaches life, the game. I don’t want to get too deep, but he’s a very consistent guy and it’s very comforting as a manager and as teammates to walk through the door and know what J.J.’s going to give you.
“He made a great play on (Evan) Longoria right out of the chute. A lot of guys don’t make that play and he’s got a great clock and that’s one of the reasons why we felt comfortable calling Manny (Machado) up, to be playing right there beside J.J. And Manny made three or four plays tonight that looked routine and probably weren’t.
“I’m proud that a lot of guys seem to get a little better every year. That’s a real tribute to them, the preparation they put in. I think they know we’re in it for the long haul with them and he grinds through the valleys, and that’s why the peaks have been a little longer for them. J.J. means so much to our club every day.
“This time of year, you need a little juice in the competition. Nobody’s even near where they were when the spring started. Neither is the opposition. That’s where you’re mentally and emotionally really tested this year. I like our chances if that’s the test.”