Orioles start second half season with a loss; Hammel hurt…

The second half of the season for the Orioles commenced on Friday night; however, from the looks of it, the same old problems still afflict the Birds. They would lose the first contest of a three game series with the Detroit Tigers, losing 7-2.

They have now fallen to 45-41 on the season and are eight games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East.

Aside from the loss, the biggest news from yesterday involves Jason Hammel, who left the mound in the fourth inning. It looks like he hurt his knee – the same one that was giving him issues throughout the season. Hammel would leave the game with the Orioles behind 3-0; however, a four-run fifth inning finished them off for the night as the bullpen could not hold the Tigers.

Back to Hammel – if he is injured, the Orioles are in a world of trouble. This is a team seemingly full of flaws – suspect starting pitching, a porous defense, an offense that does nothing else but swing for the fences – and if Hammel’s injury is serious, the Orioles will have to hunt for a pitcher or see what one of their minor leagues can do. Perhaps Zach Britton – who has pitched well in Triple-A – or Brian Matusz will be promoted back to Baltimore.

This is not an ideal situation for a team hunting for a wild card spot. Sorry, the Yankees have the American League East locked up, barring a crazy scenario.

Hammel has had an unbelievable year, and it would be a shame to lose him for an extended period of time – if not the rest of the season. He has obviously been one of the two anchors of the starting rotation and helped to propel the Orioles to a fast start. Think of it, he is only of two pitchers – the other being Wei-Yin Chen – to still remain part of the rotation this far into the season.

Other than that, the offense struggled. They only mustered five hits on the night; however, Nick Markakis made his return to the Baltimore lineup and had a hit in four at-bats. He batted leadoff to give the Orioles a bit of a spark – which did not really happen.

Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit had two hits; alas, the Orioles were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and they left five on base.

The Orioles struck out ten times at the plate, and Jim Thome whiffed three times; meanwhile, both Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy – who both have struggled at the plate for the last month – struck out twice.

Detroit’s Doug Fister gave up a run, struck out eight and walked none to earn the win. Detroit homered twice off of Baltimore pitching and Miguel Cabrera hit his 19th homer in the 5th inning, which was an absolute shot to dead center field that was estimated to have gone 451 feet.