Orioles desperately need Hammel to be the stopper

The Orioles are still tied for first place in the American League East. They lost last night, Tampa Bay lost last night and no ground was lost.

That’s the good news. There isn’t much of it to pass along these days.

I’ll give Jake Arrieta credit for not blaming plate umpire Doug Eddings for last night’s terrible outing.

Interviewed on MASN after the Orioles’ 8-6 loss, Arrieta credited Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero for adjusting to Eddings’ lousy strike zone and not letting it become a distraction.

OK, he didn’t use the word “lousy.” I’m paraphrasing. But Arrieta took responsibility for not adapting and not getting deep into the game.

The umpires can’t be blamed for shoddy defense and the failure to hit with runners in scoring position. Eddings didn’t do Arrieta any favors, but neither did Arrieta.

Now, about Eddings ...

Wieters Showalter Ejection.jpgUmpires need to be held accountable, and he was three levels beyond awful. And that includes his check-swing call on Robert Andino. The guy was clueless. But he was bad on both sides. It wasn’t a conspiracy.

It’s not often that a catcher gets ejected while arguing balls and strikes from behind the plate. You see hitters do it. Matt Wieters was an exception, and I’ll trust his judgment.

It takes a lot for Wieters to blow a gasket. He finally ran out of patience with Eddings.

The Orioles have lost three straight series for the first time this season, and the starting pitching is largely to blame. The rotation’s ERA is 5.76 over the last 23 games. The bullpen can’t cover for it every night.

Dana Eveland gave the Orioles four scoreless innings two nights ago. Miguel Gonzalez, making his major league debut, was charged with only one run in 3 1/3 innings last night, walking none and striking out five. But he let two inherited runners score that further smudged Arrieta’s line and dug a deeper hole for the Orioles, who rallied in the ninth before succumbing.

Jason Hammel’s right knee better hold up, because he’s the stopper right now. He’s the guy who’s 6-1 with a 2.78 ERA. He gives the Orioles their best chance to win.

Hammel is 4-0 with a 3.56 ERA in 10 career games against the Blue Jays, including seven starts. He shut them out on four hits over seven innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts, back on April 25.

In three games at Rogers Centre, Hammel has allowed seven runs and 16 hits in 10 2/3 innings.

I wasn’t suggesting that it’s going to be easy tonight.

Toronto starter Brandon Morrow is 2-2 with a 4.57 ERA in 13 career games against the Orioles, including six starts.

Adam Jones, who homered twice last night, is 8-for-20 with a double, two homers and six RBIs lifetime against Morrow. Nick Markakis, who tweaked his right wrist in the ninth inning last night, is 5-for-16 with three doubles.

Jones committed an error last night when he dropped a sinking liner. Here’s what he tweeted after the game:

That error makes me want to puke. I could care less about the two homers. That error was huge and extremely embarrassing. #cleanmyishup

It should read “couldn’t care less.” You know that’s one of my pet peeves. But you get the idea. Jones was highly upset with his defensive lapse.

Here’s manager Buck Showalter’s postgame interview on MASN, in case you missed it. He discusses the Markakis injury.

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