Baltimore Jason Hammel had just worked out of another jam when he sat down in the dugout to watch the Baltimore Orioles take their turn at bat in the fifth inning of a tense game.
After a wacky stretch in which Baltimore twice turned potential pickoffs into stolen bases, Hammel and the Orioles were on their way to an 8-2 rout of the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Hammel pitched six shutout innings, much to the delight of a crowd of 28,954. The throng included nearly 11,000 walk-up fans, a testament to the excitement the Orioles have generated after a run of 14 straight losing seasons.
“Outstanding crowd tonight,” Hammel said. “If they are backing us, we are going to feel even better about ourselves. It’s been fun to see the stands filling up now. We want to just continue to play good baseball for them.”
Chris Davis homered and drove in three runs for the Orioles, now 28-1 when hitting a home run. Davis hit Baltimore’s league-leading 70th homer of the season in the seventh inning with a man on to make it 8-0.
The game turned two innings earlier, however, because of the Royals’ inability to complete a relay from first base to second following a pickoff throw.
With Baltimore up 1-0, Xavier Avery led off the fifth with a walk and broke for second as starter Bruce Chen threw to first. Avery reached second before the throw from first baseman Eric Hosmer, and Robert Andino followed with a perfectly placed bunt to put runners on the corners. This time it was Andino who took off for second as Chen threw to first. Andino avoided the tag.
“It’s by design,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter deadpanned.
“On the first one, he just outran it,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “He got such a good jump that the throw had to be about perfect. On the second one, we had an opportunity.”