Wieters on Hammel: "He's got the fire you want in your pitcher"

Jason Hammel has matched Scott Erickson. Now he can take a look at equaling Jim Palmer and perhaps later Tom Phoebus.

Hammel's last two starts have resulted in a shutout and eight innings, allowing just one unearned run on Friday against Washington. According to Elias, it was the first time an O's starter had consecutive starts of eight innings or more without allowing an earned run in a single season since Erickson did that in 1997.

Jeremy Guthrie also accomplished the feat in his final start of 2010 and first of 2011. Palmer is the last Oriole to do it in three straight starts, when he accomplished the feat May 24-June 1, 1978. The franchise record is four straight starts, set by Phoebus, May 22-June 6, 1967.

Hammel is 8-2 with a 2.61 ERA on the year and has not allowed an earned run over his last 19 innings.

Matt Wieters said there has been one simple key to his success.

"Attacking the zone," Wieters said. "He's really come at guys this year with four pitches and if you can come at guys with four plus pitches like he has, you can be successful."

Hammel has given up two earned runs or less in 10 of his 14 starts and the Orioles are 11-3 when he takes the mound. He's got the talent and, Wieters says, the passion to get the job done.

"I definitely see him as someone that is as competitive as anybody," Wieters said. "He's got the fire that you want in your pitcher. It's something that we want from all our pitchers, that drive and that passion to be out there on the mound."

Two starts ago, Hammel pitched his first career shutout and it was a one-hitter in Atlanta. He gave up that hit with two outs in the last of the seventh.

"He's been good all year," Wieters said. "You've got to have some breaks to throw a no-hitter and he's had borderline three this year, that if a few breaks go his way, he could have three. But he's been real good all year, it's just sometimes it clicks a little more."

Like those past two starts where he has given up just six hits and one unearned run over 17 innings with two walks and 18 strikeouts. Those two games lowered Hammel's ERA from 3.22 to 2.61, which ranks sixth best in the AL.

Wieters said another key for Hammel this year has been his two-seam fastball that can get him a lot of groundballs and quick outs so he can pitch deeper into games.

The O's rotation has Wei-Yin Chen and Hammel pitching well and Jake Arrieta has a 2.70 ERA over his last three starts as the Orioles try to build some consistency from their starting pitching.

"I don't think it's an issue," Wieters said. "The other three guys, we want them to be there, pitching as well as Chen and Hammel are. But they are going to keep working to get there."

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