NEW YORK - Jason Hammel earned his second victory today, both of them on the road. He berated himself after the game against the Tampa Bay Rays, but he found more to like this afternoon against the New York Yankees.
"Much better," he said after allowing three runs (two earned)in six innings in the Orioles' 5-3 victory. "I still think there's room for improvement, but I feel everything coming around. I know when I'm going good. The slider and fastball command is much better. I was walking guys those first few innings the other games and it just wasn't there. A step in the right direction today and I feel pretty good about it."
The timing was right, too, after the Orioles suffered a tough loss last night.
"Every pitcher after a loss wants to be the stopper," Hammel said. "Any extended losses, losing streaks can weigh on you after a while. It's the first couple weeks of the season here. We're trying to get off on the right start and it's been long. We've had three opening days, and that can weigh on you. The night game, day game, night game, day game. So, it's nice to get out of here with a win today.
"We've got one more tomorrow and an off-day, so maybe we can get on the same page."
Relievers Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day and Jim Johnson combined for three scoreless innings.
"We're spoiled. We're really spoiled," Hammel said. "Those guys down there, you hand the ball over to the bullpen right now, we honestly feel like it's game over. They shorten the game for us so much.
"I'd like to get deeper, seventh or eighth inning, and that will come, but they give us so much confidence. Everybody out there does their job and Buck (Showalter) does a great job of matching up with them."
Nick Markakis homered and walked, raising his average to .298. He isn't getting the same attention as Chris Davis and Adam Jones, and he's totally fine with it.
"That's where I like to be. I like to be under the radar," Markakis said. "Let the big dogs drive us in. And they've been doing it all year. They did it for us last year. Hopefully, they continue to do it for the rest of the year."
It wasn't just Markakis today. Ryan Flaherty and Nolan Reimold also homered. Nate McLouth doubled twice and singled. Jones had two hits. Davis doubled and walked.
"That's what it takes to win a ballgame, not just two or three guys who are going to go out there every night and win it for us," Markakis said. "As balanced as our lineup is one through nine, it makes it tough for the opposing pitchers, and I think pitchers realize that. I'd stack our lineup up against anybody's. We just need to continue what we're doing and get on base and timely hitting."
Said McLouth: "It's nice to be able to count on guys and have them not pitch around certain guys, because you have guys right behind them that can do damage. Some guys don't come out of the gate swinging the bat well. Every year it happens and you've just got to be patient and not get frustrated."
Exhibiting the same short memories as last season, the Orioles didn't have any trouble brushing off a difficult loss and taking care of business today. The scored early and never trailed.
"It's the second week of the season. It's easy to brush off a loss now," Markakis said. "May as well get them out of the way now if it's going to happen, but last night was a tough loss. We put ourselves in position there late in the game against a good pitcher (CC Sabathia) and that just shows you that anything can happen in baseball. One play can turn around a game, but it's going to happen if you're out there long enough. You just brush it under the table and we showed that today."
Reimold's homer was only the second hit by Orioles designated hitters this season. They're 2-for-37.
"That's the first thing I thought about when I got in. We've still got a little work to do in the DH spot to make up for a slow start," he said.
"It's just one of those things. You can't really explain it. You've just got to go out there and get consistent at-bats and keep doing it and things will turn around."