Orioles starter Jason Hammel, the team's most effective starter, exited Tuesday's game with the Rays after just 3 1/3 innings. Hammel had pain in his right knee, which caused him to miss the past two months after surgery. Tuesday's start was his second since coming off of the DL, and he reportedly felt a stabbing pain in his knee before leaving the game, the same pain he felt before the surgery.
This is absolutely not the news that the Orioles, now tied for first place in the AL East with the Yankees, needed tonight after their 9-2 win over Tampa Bay. While Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez have both stepped up with Hammel hurt, the team needs their veteran ace in the rotation down the stretch to go along with Wei-Yin Chen at the top of the rotation.
Baltimore's schedule down the stretch is interesting, with five more games against the Rays after tonight along with three against the wild card leading Oakland Athletics. The Orioles can win without Hammel starting every fifth day, but their odds are much, much better if Hammel doesn't miss any more time.