Jason Hammel was saddled with his first loss of April after the Birds fell to the Yankees 2-1 on Monday night in New York.
The O's have now lost the first four games against the Yankees this season...two games went into extra innings and two of the four have been decided by just one run. The O's have managed to hang with New York; now they have to figure out a way to beat them.
Strong starting pitching is an obvious answer, and the Birds got it on Monday night. Hammel (3-1) allowed just two runs (a two-run homer) on five hits over six innings of work, walking two and striking out five. A dominant bullpen is a must, and the O's 'pen has been a pleasant surprise this year. Matt Lindstrom pitched the seventh, striking out one, and Jim Johnson returned to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth.
The problem was an anemic offense. The Birds tied season-lows in hits (5) and runs (1) in the loss. There weren't many opportunities, but the O's didn't capitalize when they had the chance. In the seventh, the Orioles had runners on second and third with just one out, but Chris Davis struck out swinging and with Wilson Betemit at the plate, Nick Markakis was thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch.
The beautiful thing about baseball is that the O's have another chance tonight...Brian Matusz, looking for his first win of the season, takes the mound in New York.