No-hit bid comes up short, but Hammel pitches O’s to sweep of Twins

After the starting pitching the Orioles got the first two days of this series, you had to figure it would be hard for Jason Hammel to top what Jake Arrieta and Tommy Hunter had done.

But for the first seven innings this afternoon, the 29-year-old right-hander was nearly perfect. He took a no-hitter on two walks into the eighth before back-to-back doubles by Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham ended his bid for O’s history.

The Orioles won the game, 3-1 over Minnesota, completing a three-game sweep, their first of the Twins in Baltimore since August 6-8 of 2002.

Hammel allowed just the two hits and one run over eight innings with three walks and five strikeouts and he threw 97 pitches. Of his 24 outs, he recorded 16 via a ground ball. Jim Johnson got the final three outs for a save.

O’s starters pitched to an ERA of 0.41 in this series allowing just 10 hits and three runs (one earned) over 22 innings.

Hammel was trying to pitch the sixth no-hitter in Orioles history and the first since four O’s pitchers combined to no-hit Oakland on July 13, 1991. Then it was Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson with the combined no-no.

Hoyt Wilhelm, Tom Phoebus and Jim Palmer are the only three Orioles pitchers to complete no-hitters before today. The Orioles had another combined no-hitter by Steve Barber and Stu Miller on April 30, 1967 against Detroit.

Hammel was acquired by the Orioles with Matt Lindstrom on Feb. 6 as part of the trade that sent Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado. He entered today with a career major league record of 34-45 with an ERA of 4.99.

Last season for the Rockies, he went 7-13 with a 4.76 ERA and even lost his rotation spot late in the year. But he also pitched better late in the season and gave up just four earned runs over 20 innings and a batting average against of just .174 in September.

As for the offense, J.J. Hardy hit a solo homer in the last of the first as the Orioles scored first for the third straight time in the series. Wilson Betemit added a two-run double in the sixth for a 3-0 lead.

Now with a 3-0 start, the Orioles welcome the Yankees to Camden Yards tomorrow night when Brian Matusz faces Ivan Nova.

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