The Orioles beat the Atlanta Braves tonight 5-0, behind the absolutely fantastic pitching performance by Jason Hammel. The game was shaping up to be a classic pitchers' duel between Hammel and Braves starter Brandon Beachy before Beechy unfortunately had to leave the game in the fourth inning due to elbow soreness. The O's offense was led tonight by Brian Roberts and in a rare instance did not include a home run.
Of the first twenty-one batters to come to the plate (both Orioles and Braves), exactly one reached base. Hammel walked Uggla to lead off the second inning and that was it. Beachy was perfect through 3 2/3 innings, striking out five Orioles before he issued a two-out walk to Chris Davis. As soon as the at-bat was over, Beachy was visited by the trainer and manager and was removed from the game. It was a terrible way for Beachy to be knocked out of the game, and hopefully his injury isn't too serious.
While it was an unfortunate turn of events for Beachy and the Braves, his replacement Anthony Varvaro was just what the Orioles needed. He walked the first two batters he faced, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. With the bases loaded Mark Reynolds lined a single to left to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. The O's added another run in the fifth inning when Steve Pearce singled and was sacrificed to second base by Hammel. Roberts knocked Pearce in with a single to increase the lead to 3-0.
In the top of the seventh inning, with Varvaro replaced by Christhian Martinez, the Orioles put two more on the board in support of Hammel's pitching gem. Wilson Betemit and Pearce singled back-to-back, then another sac bunt by Hammel put them both in scoring position. Roberts knocked an opposite field single and both runners scored.
Meanwhile, Jason Hammel kept on rolling. After the walk to Uggla to lead off the second inning, he retired seventeen straight batters before he walked Uggla again in the seventh inning with two outs. In that span, he struck out four and induced seven ground outs. He had two ten-pitch innings and one six-pitch inning. In short, he was brilliant.
While I'd certainly noticed earlier in the game that Hammel hadn't allowed a hit, I wasn't going to allow myself to seriously consider it until Hammel had completed seven innings. Sadly, it was in the seventh that his no-hitter came to an end. After the two-out walk to Uggla, Jason Heyward worked Hammel for six pitches and lined a single into left field. With the no hitter down the tubes and the tying run at the plate, Eric Hinske flied out harmlessly to end the inning.
Hammel finished the game with no more drama, retiring the Braves 1-2-3 in both the 8th and 9th innings to secure the complete-game shutout. His final pitching line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. Not bad at all.