The Baltimore Orioles gave Cole Hamels a rude welcome back to Major League Baseball tonight. They scored three runs against him as they ended up eventually cruising to a comfortable 5-1 victory over our Atlanta Braves this evening.
It turned out that the starter for Baltimore would end up being the main story for tonight’s game. During his start tonight, Keegan Akin was looking to prove that what happened in his previous start against the Yankees was indeed just a stroke of bad luck. Akin proved himself to the tune of striking out nine Braves batters over five innings of work while only giving up three hits and one run. Simply put, the Braves really couldn’t get themselves going against Akin all night — Baltimore’s starter looked more like the version who showed up to the park on September 5 instead of the pitcher who showed up on September 11.
While the Braves were being mystified by Akin, Cole Hamels was busy getting in work during his first start of the season. We already knew going in that Hamels was only going to throw around 50-60 pitches tonight, so it was only a matter of whether or not Hamels could keep the Orioles from doing a ton of damage while he was out there. There was also the hope that Hamels could get through this start without any health issues or nagging injuries popping up once again.
The good news is that Hamels was able to get his innings in and it looks like he’s good to go in order to ramp things up and go a little further during his next start. The bad news is that the Orioles were able to get to him for the 3.1 innings that Hamels tossed while he was out there. After Hamels made it through the first two innings with little-to-no incident, the third inning was when Baltimore figured him out and started to string together some runs against him. Austin Hays led off the third inning with a double and then after Hamels surrendered his first (and only) walk of the night, Hanser Alberto rolled one into left field to put Baltimore in the lead with the first run of the game.
Cole Hamels retired the next three batters in order, but those first two outs came at the cost of two more runs for the Orioles — Jose Iglesias picked up an RBI on a groundout and then Ryan Mountcastle followed that up with a sacrifice fly. It was 3-0 in favor of the Orioles once the third inning ended and the score was the same once Hamels left the game after getting the first out of the fourth inning. This outing was more-or-less what should’ve been expected from a pitcher making his first start in nearly a full calendar year. Hamels wasn’t spectacular, but he came out of the outing unscathed (in terms of health) and hopefully he’ll be able to keep on getting back into game shape as the Braves get closer to October.
Once the sixth inning rolled around, Baltimore chose to go with Dillon Tate as their first reliever out of the pen and this is when the Braves finally showed a tiny bit of life at the plate. Freddie Freeman kept his on-base streak going by leading off the sixth with a single and then he ended up making it to second on a passed ball and then third base on a groundout. He eventually made it all the way home when Dillon Tate balked — and it was one of those rare occurrences where even the pitcher himself knew that he probably did something illegal. That was the only run that the Braves pushed across in the sixth and it also ended up being the only run that the Braves would score for the entire game. Yep, it was one of those nights — the second such night in Baltimore.
The Orioles responded to Atlanta’s lone run in the sixth by putting two more on the scoreboard to make it 5-1 in favor of Baltimore. Josh Tomlin entered the game to relieve Cole Hamels and was basically tasked with long relief duty following the purposefully-short outing from the starter. Tomlin retired the first five batters he saw and then proceeded to get bopped a little as soon as the sixth inning began. Jose Iglesias continued to punish the Braves as he led off that inning with a single, which Pedro Severino eventually followed up with a single of his own. This culminated with Renato Nunez smashing one into corner in left field for a two-run double that was clearly enough on this night to put the Orioles well out of reach of the Braves.
The game eventually ended 5-1