Jun 17, 2012
When the Orioles arrived in Atlanta, they were riding the momentum of a sweep against the Pirates and had seemed to have found the offensive fire power they had been searching for.
But when the Orioles leave Atlanta today, they’ll fly out with a series victory over the Braves thanks to back to back masterpieces by starters Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen. Yesterday, Hammel had his second no hit bid of the season stifled by Jason Heyward after 6 2/3 innings of no hit baseball. Hammel finished yesterday with a complete game one hitter. Hammel’s overall consistency has been incredible this season and he has quickly become the team’s number most dependable starter.
With the 5-0 win yesterday, Hammel moved to 7-2 on the season with a 2.87 ERA, which is good for 6th best in the American League. Hammel performance this season is making him look like quite a steal. When the Orioles traded perennial opening day starter Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies for Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, it left many Orioles fans wondering what exactly Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette was thinking trading away the team’s most reliable starter. Hammel totaled only seven wins all of last year in 27 starts for the Rockies and Lindstrom was an average middle reliever for Colorado. Hammel and Lindstrom have made Duquette look like a genius this season. The O’s are 10-3 in Hammel’s 13 starts this season and he has only given up more than four runs one time all year.
Another one of Duquette’s questionable off-season signings, Wei-Yin Chen, matched Hammel for the team lead in wins Sunday picking up his 7th of the season in a 2-0 win over the Braves. Back to back shutouts for two starters who were expected be bottom of the rotation pitchers. In Chen’s victory, he went seven innings giving up only six hits while walking only one before turning it over to the bullpen. He lowered his ERA to 3.36 on the season and that has him just outside of the top 10 in ERA in the American League this season. Despite hiccups in Washington and Tampa Bay, Chen has provided the Orioles with the stability in the rotation that other starters have been failing to provide.
It is important to note how the Orioles scored their two runs Sunday as well. After Adam Jones led off the top of the second with a double, Wilson Betemit produced a productive out when he popped out to right field allowing Jones to tag and go to third base on the play. The next batter, Mark Reynolds, hit a sac fly to bring Jones in and give the O’s a 1-0 lead. The other run came in the top of the sixth. After a Steve Pearce double, Chen helped himself by sacrificing Pearce to third. He would later score on a balk by Braves starter Randall Delgado. Both runs were scored without a hit. Sacrifices and a bit of luck led to both Orioles runs. Many Orioles doubters criticize the club‘s inability to manufacture runs but that was not a problem on Sunday.
The Orioles arrived in Atlanta with a red hot lineup. They depart with a rotation that is nearly as hot as the offense it arrived with.
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