Searching for his first win since May 27, Hammel was charged with a difficult task: Return to the place where he started his career and pitch in arguably the biggest game of the season to date. And, after being sidelined for more than a month due to injury, start for just the second time since July.The evening started out terribly for Hammel, who allowed two doubles and a run in his first seven pitches. The Rays scored a second run when Chris Davis failed to handle a grounder to first base. Hammel induced two more ground balls, escaping a 21-pitch inning by allowing just two runs (one earned).
Tampa Bay scored again in the second when slow-footed catcher Jose Molina doubled to right and then scored on consecutive fly ball outs. He received a loud ovation from the crowd for his hustle, if not his speed.
That was the last run Hammel would allow. He retired 12 of 14 after Molina’s double. He struck out his final two batters and threw just 77 pitches (52 for strikes).
A former 10th-round draft pick of the Rays in 2002, Hammel, who spent three seasons with the Rays, incredibly had never won at Tropicana Field before picking up the victory on Opening Day this year against reigning Cy Young Award winner David Price.
Much has changed since that outing for Hammel, who began the season 7-2, but had dropped six straight decisions heading into Friday and was sidelined for more than a month due to a strained right forearm.Friday was just his second start since coming off the disabled list and, after a rough beginning, kept the Orioles close until they could finally get some runs against Price.
Far from his best, Price allowed a baserunner in every inning he pitched. He lasted just five – his shortest outing since going five innings on Aug. 19 at Camden Yards. Similar to that game – in which Price allowed 10 hits but two runs – the hard-throwing lefty kept bending but not breaking Friday.
"He’s one of the aces in the game and we took him out early," Machado said. "And we were definitely excited for that."
The Orioles scored their first run on a Jones’ RBI single, though it was more good fortune than solid hitting. With the bases loaded and no outs, Jones hit a slow high-bouncing chopped halfway down the third base line that Evan Longoria couldn’t snag barehanded.
Davis then struck out and Valencia, who was 10-for-14 in his career against Price, hit into a double firstname.lastname@example.org