Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel wasn’t pleased with his outing Sunday against the Phillies at Bright House Field, but continues to feel healthy after last year’s right knee injuries.
Hammel, the favorite to be the team’s Opening Day starter, allowed four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking one, in the Orioles’ 5-3 loss to the Phillies. Two of those runs came in the fifth on Freddy Galvis’ two-run homer on a 1-0 change-up.
“Out of all my outings, this one’s been the worst,” said Hammel, who threw 77 pitches (47 strikes). “I’m not too happy with it honestly, but it’s one of those days when you just don’t have the feel and it was just one of those days.
“I’m definitely getting stronger. [I wasn’t] as sharp as I wanted to be today. Curveball was lazy, both of the breaking balls were kind of bad. I threw some good change-ups early. … But I’ll chalk it down as a work day.”
Hammel wanted to work on his change-up against a Phillies lineup that included five left-handed hitters. And early on, he was mixing it well and pitching aggressively inside. Through his first two innings, 17 of 23 pitches were strikes.
“I thought he did OK,” said Orioles bench coach John Russell, who managed the road split-squad team with manager Buck Showalter in Sarasota. “He left some balls up, but he pitched inside pretty well today. He battled some good hitters and it was encouraging. Hammel, he has great stuff. I think the day went well for him. He gave up more runs than he probably wanted to, but as far as what he wanted to do and accomplish today, I think he did that.”
Trailing 2-1 with one on and one out in the fifth, the switch-hitting Galvis teed up Hammel's low change-up over the right-field fence to give the Phillies a 5-1 lead.
“It could have been better, but he put a good swing on it,” Hammel said. “That wasn’t my best one but I got some swings and misses and some ground balls on it today.”
But most importantly, Hammel, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July and reaggravated the injury in September, said his knee feels great.
“It’s not even a thought,” Hammel said of the knee. “I’ve put too much work in this offseason to have it come back and [bother me]. Knock on wood, but it feels strong.
“It actually feels stronger than my arm," he joked.
Hammel had pitched 14 spring innings, including a four-inning simulated game stint last week.
The Orioles scored two runs in the top of the ninth, including one on L.J. Hoes’ two-out double, and brought the go-ahead run to the plate, but the game ended after minor leaguer John Ruettiger grounded out to Galvis.