Jason Hammel continues his strong season and makes a trade look good

Jason Hammel continues to make us all wonder how he had a career ERA of 4.99 and record of 34-45 before this season. He had seven wins all of last year, his career high is 10 and he's now an eight-game winner after his outing last night.

It was not only another impressive performance by Hammel in the win over the Nats. But he did it with little run support in a game where one or two key mistakes could have meant a loss. He also set a great tone for the Orioles' nine-game homestand by pitching like that, as he beat the National League East leaders and a club with the second-best NL record.

Hammel followed up the 33rd one-hitter in O's history that he pitched last weekend against Atlanta with another gem and now he's clearly got to be a pitcher worthy of making the All-Star team at 8-2 with an ERA of 2.61 over 14 starts. He should have three more outings between now and that game to further state his case.

Over his last two starts, he has pitched 17 innings allowing just six hits and one unearned run with two walks and 18 strikeouts. Opposing batters are just 6-for-58 against him in those games for a .103 batting average. He has lowered his ERA from 3.22 to 2.61 in two games.

Here are some other stats on Hammel:
* He has given up one earned run or less in six starts this year and two earned runs or less in 10 of his 14 outings.

* The Orioles are 11-3 in his starts and have won four in a row and six of Hammel's last seven games.

* He is the first O's pitcher with consecutive eight-inning games win no earned runs in each since Scott Erickson did it in 1997.

* Dating to last Aug. 24, when Colorado moved Hammel to the bullpen, he is 8-3 with a 2.45 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 114 innings over 21 games (16 starts).

Hammel has also emerged as someone that has shown leadership among those on the pitching staff. Jake Arrieta cited the support and guidance Hammel gave him when he was recently demoted to the bullpen.

By the way, the Orioles are 7-0 the last seven times Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have started for them and Chen takes the ball tonight for Game 2 of the series.

With two shutouts over their last six games and a game without giving up an earned run last night, the O's team ERA is 2.47 over that six-game stretch.

If you go back to the weekend series against Philadelphia, the Orioles have drawn crowds that add up to 178,228 fans over their last four weekend home games for an average attendance of 44,557. Each game drew a crowd of 40,000 plus.

Game 1 of the Orioles-Nats series was exciting with some quality pitching and a great crowd and atmosphere at Camden Yards. Game 2 comes up tonight at the Yard.

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