Jason Hammel just wanted another chance to prove he could be an effective Major League starter. Traded away as part of the Tampa Bay Rays' almost shameful amount of surplus pitching after the 2008 season, Hammel was moved to the Rockies' bullpen in mid-August before being dealt to the Orioles this winter as part of a trade for right-hander Jeremy Guthrie.
Following his first start this spring, Hammel talked about what his time in the bullpen -- where he made just seven appearances the rest of 2011 -- allowed him to reflect on. He vowed to become a more aggressive pitcher this season, in relying on his strengths over each hitter's weakness.
That newfound confidence -- along with an improved two-seam fastball -- was on full display on Sunday afternoon, as the 29-year-old Hammel dominated the Minnesota Twins, allowing one run over eight innings en route to the Orioles' 3-1 sweep-clinching win.
"What I did in Spring Training, [and] at the end of last year was a huge help," said Hammel, who called Sunday's start the best of his career. "[I] changed my focus on the mound, I was starting to wander, think of the wrong things instead of what I could do. It's really changed my game a lot."
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