TAMPA – For new Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel, this spring had been a re-introduction to the American League East. After three seasons in Colorado, he’s getting re-adjusted to the lineups he saw during his first major league seasons in Tampa Bay.
And on Thursday night, the 30-year-old held the division rival Yankees to just two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings under the lights Thursday night at Steinbrenner Field in Baltimore’s 4-3 over the Yankees.
Catcher Ronny Paulino had the game’s winning hit, a ninth-inning single up the middle that drove in LJ Hoes from second base and reliever Pat Neshek threw a perfect ninth inning to run his spring scoreless streak to 8 1/3 innings.
Hammel, who has all but locked a spot in the Orioles rotation, shut down a Yankees lineup that consisted of six starters. Take away Raul Ibanez’s solo homer in the second inning and he allowed just one runner to reach second base through his first five innings of work.
“(I’m) learning these guys again, I’ve faced the Rays and the Red Sox and now the Yankees, so I’m just learning some new faces and some changes and making some adjustments,” Hammel said. “I was worried about over-exposure early. I think we got just about the right amount. I got to see their boppers and pretty much their 'A' lineup and I was very happy with the way it went.”
Hammel’s outing Thursday had a much different outcome as his previous start, in which he lasted just two innings against the Red Sox last Friday because of a 39-pitch second inning. Against the Yankees, Hammel threw 89 pitches, 59 of them strikes, striking out five with no walks and one hit batter.
“Everything I was working on I was very happy with and the results were good,” said Hammel, who has a 3.24 ERA in 16 2/3 spring innings. “I definitely tired in the last one after the 40-pitch inning. To get into the sixth was the goal. I would have loved to have finished it, but we were being smart. I wasn’t real worried about the last one anyway. It was just a lot of foul balls. I worked on getting the two-seamer back in action. It was very successful tonight expect for one pitch (the Ibanez homer) and it went about 900 feet. Other than that, I was just really happy with it.”
Hammel had help from Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who continued his torrid spring surge, by going 2-for-3 with a triple and double. Wieters, who began the spring 3-for-30 (.100) has hits in 10 of his last 13 at bats.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the second on Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s throwing error on a ball off the bat of Mark Reynolds. That scored Wieters, who hit a one-out triple. With the score 1-1 after Ibanez’s homer, Wieters scored again on a Reynolds double in the fourth. Two batters later, Reynolds scored on an RBI ground out to shortstop, which made the score 3-1.
Ibanez’s run-scoring single in the sixth off Troy Patton scored an inherited runner from Hammeland made the score 3-2.
Orioles reliever Darren O’Day struggled in the eighth, allowing a leadoff single to Eduardo Nunez, who stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Nunez scores on a Derek Jeter groundout to tie the game.