Jason Hammel's best outing of 2013

The Baltimore Sun

It’s one of those questions that players hate.

Was this your best game of the season?

Many players can’t tell you what they did when, they just go out and do it. They leave the comparing and analysis to the media.

Monday’s starter, Jason Hammel, didn’t hesitate to answer after allowing two runs in eight innings against the Washington Nationals.

“For the year, definitely the best start,” said Hammel, who struck out a season-high eight batters. He hadn’t gone more than 6 2/3 innings this season.

The difference, he said, is he finally could locate his fastball Monday. That’s something that has plagued him for much of the early season.

“The fastball command that I’ve been searching for has been getting closer and closer and closer and today it was finally there,” Hammel said. “And a small adjustment I made with my slider added a lot more depth and a lot of swings and misses with that one.”

Matt Wieters, who has caught most of Hammel’s starts this season, would concur that Monday’s version of Hammel was as close to what he saw last year from the lanky right-hander, pre-knee injury.

“He threw the ball well, best he’s thrown the ball this year. He was able to move his fastball on both sides of the plate, probably the biggest thing for him. And then his slider, he was able to use it for a put-away pitch, as well as a pitch he could get ahead with,” Wieters said. “That’s by far the best he’s thrown the ball this year. Thing with Ham is he’s going to compete, no matter what kind of stuff he has out there. And when he’s able to bring that kind of location with that stuff, he’s got a good chance to succeed.”

Hammel is now 7-2 this season, but his ERA has been high much of the season. It’s now under 5.00 after two consecutive quality starts.

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