ANAHEIM, Calif.— Jason Hammel capped his remarkable first-half — one in which he emerged as the Baltimore Orioles’ most dependable starter and nearly made the American League all-star team — with his ninth quality start in 17 this season on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Angels.
Unfortunately for Hammel and the Orioles, they were facing a pitcher who was making a case to be the AL starter in the All-Star Game. Angels right-hander Jered Weaver threw eight shutout innings, holding the Orioles to just three hits and striking out five, lowering his season ERA to 1.96 as Baltimore lost, 3-0, in front of an announced crowd of 41,147 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Of his 10 wins this season, it was Weaver’s third in as many starts against the Orioles, pitching to a 1.52 ERA against Baltimore. It was the fifth time this season that the Orioles were shut out.
“Weaver is pretty much unbeatable at home so any runs you give up, it makes it that much harder,” Hammel said. “I thought I pitched pretty well, but had some bad pitches there in the seventh.”
Weaver retired 12 of the final 13 Orioles hitters he faced — Jim Thome’s seventh-inning single accounted for the only base runner, and he was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.
“It’s his park. I’ve seen his career numbers in this park and they are pretty amazing,” Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. “We had a couple good chances early and then we let him get in the groove. A pitcher like Weaver, he gets in the groove, he’s in the groove. And that's what happened.”
Weaver, who leads the major leagues with a 1.96 ERA, became the second pitcher since 1950 with 10 or more first-half wins and a sub-2.00 ERA in consecutive seasons. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax did it in 1963 and 1964. Weaver is 14-2 with 1.48 ERA in 22 home starts over the past two seasons. He's 6-0 with a 0.58 ERA at home this season.
The Orioles (45-39) had just one runner in scoring position all night: Wilson Betemit, following a two-out double in the third. The top four hitters in the Orioles’ batting order — Xavier Avery, J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis and Jones — were a combined 0 for 15.
As for Hammel, he masterfully worked out of trouble early against a team with the second-best batting average in the American League. He gave up three runs and six hits in 62 / 3 innings. He also walked four batters, the most since June 10, when he issued five against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“He’s had a great first half. Their guy was just a little bit better,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “Weaver’s really good. We’re not the only ones he’s picking on. We split against two really good pitchers and we’ll try to split the series tomorrow and end the pre-all-star break on a good note.”
In the second, Hammel issued a two-out walk to Alberto Callaspo and then hit Howie Kendrick with a pitch, but he induced a flyout from Erick Aybar to get out of the inning.
Hammel also faced runners at first and third with no outs the next inning, but retired the heart of the Angels’ order — Torii Hunter, Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales.
The Angels (47-38) finally got to Hammel in the fourth on Kendrick's one-out single up the middle, scoring Mark Trumbo from second. Trumbo led off the inning with a single to left and reached second on a fielding error by Avery.
Hammel recovered to retire eight straight until tiring in the seventh. He issued a one-out walk to No. 9 hitter Bobby Wilson, who scored two batters later on Hunter's opposite-field double with two outs. After issuing an intentional walk to Pujols, Morales singled in Hunter to make it 3-0.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction personally, but I still got some work to do, obviously,” said Hammel about his performance so far this season. “It’s a good start, but we still got a half-season left, a lot of ball games. And we are still in this thing.”
— Baltimore Sun