Hammel allows 4 homers, says Blue Jays stole signs
TORONTO—Jason Hammel gave up a career-high four homers to the Toronto Blue Jays, and it was their aggressive swings on his breaking balls that left the right-hander asking questions.
Edwin Encarnacion hit one of Toronto's four solo home runs, pitcher Brandon Morrow left the game after being struck by a line drive and the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.
Hammel (6-2) lost for the first time since April 30 at New York. He gave up four runs and a season-high nine hits in 6 2-3 innings, walked two and struck out five.
"When you're not locating your fastball, you're going to give up some home runs there," Hammel said. "But the swings they were taking on the breaking stuff, it was pretty amazing to me. I don't think you can take swings like that not knowing they're coming. I don't know. That's all I can say."
Last August, the Blue Jays were featured in an ESPN report that accused the team of using a man dressed in white in the center field seats to relay information to hitters. Weeks earlier, Yankees manager Joe Girardi accused the Blue Jays of stealing signs during a visit to Toronto.
Hammel acknowledged being aware of the prior accusations.
"There's rumors and things like that," he said. "I don't know. I can't speak on that but they were taking very big, strong hacks on breaking stuff. It's something I've never seen before."
Morrow suffered a bruised right shin when he was struck by Wilson Betemit's liner in the seventh, hopping around the mound in pain. Manager John Farrell and a trainer came out to check on Morrow and, following a brief discussion, supported him on either side as he limped off the field and into the dugout, disappearing down the steps to the clubhouse. X-rays were negative and the right-hander is day-to-day.
"It hurt a lot," Morrow said. "My foot was numb and it felt like it was swelling up. I guess there's a nerve in there that it hit it something. But luckily it hit the muscle on the side of my shin. An inch or half an inch over, it could've been a different story."
Morrow (6-3) was coming off the shortest start of his career, chased after 2-3 of an inning in last Friday's loss at Texas after giving up six runs and five hits. He bounced back nicely against Baltimore, earning the win by giving up one run and four hits over 6 1-3 innings. Morrow walked two and struck out eight.
"I came into the game with a little chip on my shoulder after last time," Morrow said. "We needed this game. It was a big win to sweep them and get back in the race. Now we're just two games back of them. That was a big series for us."
Carlos Villanueva replaced Morrow and got the final two outs of the seventh. Francisco Cordero worked the eighth and Casey Janssen finished in the ninth for his fifth save in six opportunities.
Baltimore's season-worst losing streak reached five games but the Orioles remained tied atop the AL East with Tampa Bay after the Rays were swept earlier Wednesday by the Chicago White Sox. The Orioles are off Thursday before opening a three-game series Friday with Tampa Bay.
"I think this day off might be needed to let us clear our heads, relax and come out Friday with a little bit more energy," Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones said.
Jones went 0 for 2, snapping his hitting streak at 20 games. He hit into a fielder's choice in the first, grounded into a double play in the third, was hit on the left wrist by a pitch in the sixth and walked in the ninth.
Jones had his hand wrapped after the game but didn't consider his injury serious.
"Nothing that's going to keep me out," Jones said.
The Orioles opened the scoring in the second on an RBI single by Ryan Flaherty. He started in place of Nick Markakis, who sat out for the first time this season because of soreness in his right wrist and hand.
Encarnacion answered in the bottom half with a leadoff drive to left against Hammel, who had allowed just three homers in 55 innings coming in. The homer was Encarnacion's 17th, second in the majors to Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, who had 21 entering play Wednesday.
Rajai Davis put the Blue Jays in front with a leadoff homer to left in the third, one pitch after he was knocked down by an inside pitch on a bunt attempt. Brett Lawrie opened the fourth with a shot to center and Colby Rasmus capped the homer barrage with a one-out drive to right in the fifth.
NOTES: Markakis is scheduled to see a hand specialist and undergo an MRI in Tampa on Baltimore's off-day Thursday. ... Toronto 2B Kelly Johnson, who missed two games last weekend with a sore left hamstring, got the day off. Toronto is off Thursday and opens a three-game series against Boston on Friday. ... Toronto's Omar Vizquel had two hits, giving him 2,850 for his career and moving him past Frank Robinson into sole possession of 43rd place on the career list. ... Following the game, Toronto optioned LHP Aaron Laffey to Triple-A Las Vegas.