Tonight's baseball game had a very close result, but for those of us watching, we know that it could have easily been a blowout by the Royals. Starting pitcher Jason Hammel pitched the one of the most awful six-inning, three-run games I've ever seen. And on the other side of the ball, lefty Bruce Chen soft tossed his way to victory. A ninth-inning rally was cut short and the Orioles win streak came to an end at five.
There is a term in baseball that gets referenced regularly: quality start. It means a start of at least six innings in which the pitcher gives up three or less runs. It was coined by a sportswriter in the 1980s and somehow is still around and used as a way to describe a game that wasn't that awful. Keep in mind that three runs in six innings is a 4.50 ERA, so while it might keep the team in the game, it's not necessarily good to have a quality start. Jason Hammel had a quality start tonight and as a result I'm wondering how much longer I can take watching him in the rotation.
Before I say any more, let it be known that I don't think one loss to the Royals is the end of the world. Four game sweeps are really tough no matter who the opponent (they really do need to win the next two, though). The Orioles have gotten a great run of pitching since the All Star break and I'm confident in some of those pitcher to keep the team in the thick of things. But Jason Hammel, tonight, was not a good pitcher. Let's take a look at the grisly details:
- In four of his six innings, Hammel allowed the leadoff batter to reach base. In two of THOSE innings, he allowed the first three batters to reach without recording an out.
- In the first inning he was saved from a bigger rally by a double play ball. In the second inning, the third out was a line drive right to Chris Davis.
- He needed two hard-hit line drives to infielders to keep the damage to one run in the third inning.
- He walked four batters in six innings. Combine that with ten hits and you're looking at a 2.333 WHIP.
- In the sixth inning he allowed three stolen bases. It didn't even look like he was paying attention to the runners, who got such big jumps that twice there was no throw.
After that sad display, it was up to J.J. Hardy or Henry Urrutia to bring Adam home. J.J. at least made contact, but it was a chopper to third base that couldn't bring in the run. And poor Urrutia was just a bit over matched as he grounded out to first to end the game.