Members of the Orioles starting rotation have had their struggles getting deep into games, but right-hander Jason Hammel gave the team a gritty six-inning effort against the Dodgers in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader.
Through 16 games, no Orioles starter has yet to last more than six innings. Still, the way Hammel battled through early pitch-count problems was key to the series-opening victory. It also served as an example to the rest of the rotation.
Hammel struggled through a 32-pitch first inning that saw the Orioles go down early on Andre Ethier's three-run homer. Through two innings, he was at 51 pitches. But Hammel put together back-to-back nine-pitch frames in the third and fourth innings before a 33-pitch fifth inning elevated his pitch count to 102 pitches.
Hammel said Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't come up to him about going out for the sixth.
"I figured that if he had come over, I was going to tell him to not come over," Hammel said.
Hammel needed just 11 pitches to retire the Dodgers in order in the sixth before giving way to the bullpen.
"That's why Ham kind of graduated a little bit as a starter, because what you see in the first inning isn't necessarily what you're going to be seeing in the fifth or sixth inning," Showalter said. "They've got some guys who need to hopefully follow that lead. It's not, 'Woe is me and the sky is falling.' It's, 'OK, let's make an adjustment and let's get our team through this and get a chance to win the game and don't tax the bullpen too much.'"
Asked what Hammel changed after the first two innings, Showalter said, "I think he got more mad. I can read lips."
Hammel agreed that he was mad early. But he's often said — especially after he was named the team's Opening Day starter — that he wants to be a leader of the rotation. Persevering through Saturday's opener exemplified just that.
"Even earlier in my career, when that happened, I folded," Hammel said. "I would get so frustrated that it was happening. The aggression, it's a little different for me now emotionally. I've learned how to control it. That's really big. It's a minor victory for myself to know I can still do that.
"That's not that guy anymore. I'm not going to be a guy who [folds], so it was good to do that. And I do think that it shows something to the younger pitchers."
Around the horn
Jim Johnson's save in Game 1 was his 65th since Sept. 7, 2011, the most in that span and more than top closers Craig Kimbrel (53), Fernando Rodney (49), Jason Motte (48) and Rafael Soriano (48). … Chris Davis recorded his sixth multi-hit game with three hits in Game 1. His two doubles gave him his third multi-extra-base hit game of the season. … Baseball America reported that the Orioles signed minor league infielder Paco Figueroa, but one club source said Figueroa is coaching for the Orioles at extended spring training. Figueroa spent six seasons in the Orioles farm system and was on Spain's World Baseball Classic team this spring. … Double-A Bowie left-hander Chris Jones, who was acquired from Atlanta in the Luis Ayala trade, had his third straight scoreless relief outing Friday. In five scoreless relief innings since joining Bowie, he's allowed just three hits and has five strikeouts and no walks. … After two games at Bowie, Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia is 3-for-9 with a double, one walk and three RBIs.