The Orioles know they’ve got another big mountain to climb now that it appears they will spend the rest of the regular season without sizzling lead-off hitter Nick Markakis and rotation cornerstone Jason Hammel.
Hammel said after Tuesday night’s game that the pain he felt in his knee when he tried to push off his right leg in the fourth inning was very similar to the pain he felt there before he underwent surgery to clean it up in July. He’ll be examined by Orioles orthopedist John Wilckens today, but he didn’t sound optimistic about his chances of making a quick return to the mound.
That’s not good news, but the Orioles have been overcoming injuries and adversity all season and so have their main rivals for the AL East title.
When things look the worst, it seems, they bring out their best, this time getting strong middle relief from Steve Johnson and Luis Ayala and another flurry of home runs to move back into a first-place tie with the Yankees.
Center fielder Adam Jones, who scored two runs on Tuesday night, said the Orioles will overcome if they don’t forget how they got this far and the hitters don’t lose focus trying to compensate for the loss of Markakis.
“We’ve got to just do what we’ve been doing,’’ Jones said. “Obviously his production is a lot. He’s one of the hottest hitters on the team. Since he came back, he’s been the best. We’ve just got to find ways. Don’t try to press, just go out there and find ways. We do rely on the long ball because we’ve got some guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark but I think now every run we can possibly get, we need to get them. We need to scratch and claw and get every run from this point on.”