BALTIMORE — The deluge of adversity the Baltimore Orioles have faced this season as they attempt to make the postseason for the first time in 15 years hasn’t stopped them from playing quality baseball.
On Saturday, they lost their best hitter, right fielder Nick Markakis, for the rest of the regular season.
Tuesday night, right-hander Jason Hammel limped off the mound in the third inning of the pivotal series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays and left the game with what the team announced was a right-knee injury.
The Orioles overcame the loss of Hammel, who emerged as the team’s ace early in the season, the first time and might have to do so again. On this night, the Orioles (79-62) managed to do just that, beating the Rays 9-2 in front of an announced crowd of 23,828 at Camden Yards.
The win was the Orioles’ 12th in their last 17 games as they stayed in the AL East hunt and in possession of one of the two AL wild-card spots.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy hit two homers and drove in five runs, with his homer in the third inning off Rays left-hander Matt Moore giving the Orioles a 3-1 lead. Another two-run homer in the eighth off Dane De La Rosa gave Hardy his second two-homer game of the season and the ninth of his career.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters added to the lead with a two-run double in the fifth, launching a ball that hit off the right-center field wall on the fly. Chris Davis hit his 25th homer of the season in the seventh.
Hammel was making his second start since missing nearly eight weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery on the same knee.