Jason Hammel tries to state his case to be on the American League's All-Star team this evening when the Baltimore Orioles begin a three- game set with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
After a surprising first half, the Orioles will be represented in Kansas City by three players: catcher Matt Wieters, outfielder Adam Jones and reliever Jim Johnson. Hammel could be the team's fourth All-Star, as he is one of five players vying for the fans' vote for the final roster spot.
"Obviously, it's a tremendous honor just to be in the Final Vote," Hammel said. "It would be a nice personal accomplishment, but you still need the team to get to this point."
Hammel, though, is coming off his worst outing of the season in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Hammel was roughed up to the tune of eight runs and eight hits in only 3 1/3 innings, dropping him to 8-3, while skyrocketing his ERA to 3.29.
"There haven't been many people pitching better than Hamm, and he gets a mulligan," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after that outing. "He had pretty crisp stuff. Just one of those nights where nothing seemed to go his way."
Hammel is 1-0 in three games (two starts) against the Mariners with a 2.92 ERA.
The Orioles will need Hammel to bounce back tonight after the team dropped three of four over the weekend to the Cleveland Indians, including a 6-2 setback on Sunday.
Brian Matusz lasted only four-plus innings after allowing five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and three walks.
"Outings like that you can withstand here and there," Showalter said. "Consistently, when you have two or three days like that, it's, I don't want to say an energy sapper, but it kind of gets back to what makes you struggle as a team."
After the game, the Orioles optioned Matusz to Triple-A Norfolk. The 25-year- old left-hander went 0-5 with an 8.44 earned run average in his last starts.
"My last five, six outings or so I just haven't been getting the job done," Matusz said. "Today was just really inconsistent. I had some signs of good pitches, just haven't been putting it together. It's killing the bullpen and makes it tough."
Seattle, meanwhile, split its four-game series with the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, falling in Sunday's finale, 2-1, in 10 innings.
Jason Vargas threw eight solid innings, but served up a game-tying home run to Dustin Pedroia in his last inning.
"Vargas pitched a great ball game and when you got a chance to take three out of four against a pretty good ball club, you've got to finish those games off and we most definitely did not today," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge.
Tonight, Seattle turns to Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma, who will be making his first major league start in place of the injured Kevin Millwood.
Used primarily as a long reliever, Iwakuma has gone 1-1 with a 4.75 ERA this season.
Baltimore took four of six from the Mariners last season.