“I’d say this was probably the best outing he’s had this year. They have a lot of tough lefty hitters in that lineup, and he had to locate and mix in his change-up, which was big for him tonight. That was the Hammel we saw last year,” Wieters said after the right-hander gave up two runs and six hits over 6 2/3 to improve to 6-2.
It was the O’s fourth straight quality start, and the starters’ ERA is 3.16 in that stretch.
“Guys in the rotation feed off each other, and hopefully they can get a roll going,” Wieters said. “They know that is what we need to get where we want to go.”
Hammel had pitched to an ERA of 10.43 in his three starts before getting the win tonight.
“Much better,” Hammel said of this outing. “I was behind the fastball. I was behind everything, really. There were a few times that I wanted to jump away from it and get going quick again, and I was able to slow myself down. But Matty called a great game. The small adjustments that I’ve made, it was there for the majority of the night.”
Did he feel this was his best start?
“Pretty close,” he said. “I still think in Oakland (on April 25) I was better, but fastball command-wise, much better. We (the starters) haven’t really been pulling our weight. Once again tonight, the guys put up some runs for us and we were able to pitch with a lead, which allows us to be aggressive. That’s just what they’ve been doing all year, and it’s time for us to continue to get deeper into games. And I was able to do that tonight. We’re moving in the right direction.
“It’s huge (winning the series), especially after losing six in a row. To come out and play these guys toe-to-toe and come out with two out of three, I think, is pretty good.”
Has the mood changed now with back-to-back wins?
“It’s a long season,” Hammel said. “If you sit there and dwell on a six-game losing streak that you had two, three weeks ago, we don’t want to do that. We’ve got to move around each series, play one game at a time, the typical response. But that really is the way to go. If you start thinking about, ‘Oh, we’ve got to string three or four together,’ instead of, ‘Let’s win one and then get another,’ it’s the proper way to go.”
Nick Markakis got the Orioles’ offense started with a first-inning homer against Hiroki Kuroda.
“He’s given us fits in the past,” Markakis said. “Just looking for a ball up, something out over the plate and put a good swing on it. Just look for a good pitch to hit and don’t miss it. We were in a bad spot for the past week, but it’s a long season and things like that will happen.”
Markakis is now batting .344 since May 15.
Chris Davis tonight went 4-for-4 with a homer, and this was his second four-hit night of the year and the fifth of his career. He hit his AL-leading 14th homer, a two-run shot, in the first. Before the game, he didn’t seem to feel he’d have a good night this evening.
“I really actually felt terrible today in BP,” Markakis said. “It was just one of those days where no swing I took felt right. I felt like I was all over the place.
“Nate (McLouth) picked us up last night with the walk-off, and that gave us a shot of adrenaline emotionally. It is tough to lose six in a row, and especially games that are close. Anytime a division rival comes in, you want to win the series. We avoided the snowball effect and were able to get back on track.
“I think we had a better plan this time (against Kuroda). We were a little more patient today and made him throw strikes. He is tough when he is down in the zone. We had some good swings on him today.”
So now, the Orioles will try to extend a winning streak tomorrow night rather than stop a losing streak.
“The fact is was against New York, a team we feel we can compete with,” Davis said. “It was huge. But we try not to get too high or too low and keep our emotions in check.”