BALTIMORE (AP) — Jason Hammel was peeling off his Baltimore Orioles uniform after the finest pitching performance of his career, wearing a grin that displayed not one hint of disappointment about missing a chance to make baseball history.

Teammate Matt Lindstrom walked over to the right-hander, patted him on the shoulder and said one word: “Awesome.”

Seconds later, Troy Patton emerged from the shower, looked at Hammel and applauded.

Hammel took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his Baltimore debut, and although he didn’t go the distance, his effort Sunday helped the Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins 3-1 for a three-game sweep.

Hammel (1-0) faced the minimum 21 batters through seven innings, allowing two walks, before Justin Morneau ended the no-hit bid with a leadoff double off the right-field wall in the eighth.

“It wasn’t actually that bad of a pitch,” Hammel said. “Obviously, Morneau is a great hitter. It was a changeup that was up just a little bit. Oh well.”

The crowd of 14,738 stood in appreciation of Hammel’s performance.

“It was a pleasure to do that for the fans, the first time they’ve seen me,” he said. “They sure knew what was going on and they backed me up pretty good.”

The no-hitter was gone, but Hammel still had a 3-0 lead to protect.

Josh Willingham followed with an RBI double and Sean Burroughs drew a one-out walk before Hammel finished by striking out Luke Hughes and retiring Ben Revere on a fly to right.

Jim Johnson worked a perfect ninth to earn his second save and complete the two-hitter.

Hammel came to Baltimore in February with Lindstrom in a trade that sent Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado. Hammel allowed three walks and struck out five over eight memorable innings.

Asked if it was the best he’s ever thrown, the 6-foot-6 Hammel replied: “For sure. I haven’t been much better than that.”

Quite simply, he had no-hit stuff.

“I think he had a real good chance because he was real efficient from a pitch count standpoint,” Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair said. “The type of groundballs he was getting, they were kind of chopped. I thought he had a chance. I was nervous for him. It was fun to watch.”

Hammel didn’t get the no-hitter, but did not seem to mind.

“Not at all. There’s no disappointment there,” he said. “It’s one crack at it. I feel like I’m going to be around the game for long. I’m sure I’ll have more chances at it.”

After beating Tampa Bay in three straight games on the road last year, the Orioles have opened the season with two straight three-game sweeps for the first time since 1996-97 — both of which turned out to be playoff seasons.

J.J. Hardy homered for the Orioles, who have won seven straight over the Twins by a collective score of 39-9. The streak began with a four-game sweep last August in Minnesota.

The Twins scored only five runs in this series, none of them over the first seven innings. The only other times Minnesota started 0-3 were in 1969 and 1981.

“We’re going to keep grinding,” said Ryan Doumit, who went hitless in the series. “We have some pretty good baseball players on this team. We’re going to be fine.”

Twins starter Anthony Swarzak (0-1) performed admirably in place of Liam Hendriks, who was hospitalized over the weekend with apparent food poisoning. Swarzak, who’s normally used as a long reliever, gave up one run and four hits in five innings. The lone glaring flaw was Hardy’s first-inning homer.

“Swarzak threw the ball great today,” Morneau said. “We haven’t done a whole lot early in the games. They’ve thrown the ball well. Their hitters managed to get it done and we didn’t.”

Swarzak was replaced by Matt Maloney, who allowed two runs in the sixth. Adam Jones hit a leadoff single, Nick Johnson was hit by a pitch with one out and both moved up on a double steal before Wilson Betemit doubled in two runs for a 3-0 lead.

That proved to be enough offense to back Hammel, who was extremely sharp leading up to the eighth.

The only runner against Hammel over the first four innings was Willingham, who walked in the second before Doumit hit into a double play.

Morneau drew a leadoff walk in the fifth, but Willingham promptly bounced into a 1-4-3 double play. Baltimore put runners at the corners with two outs in the bottom half before Nick Markakis flied out to right.

Hammel kept the no-hitter intact in the sixth, getting three straight routine groundouts. The same thing happened in the seventh.

NOTES: Orioles LHP Wei-Yin Chen makes his major league debut Monday night against the New York Yankees. … The Twins will send Nick Blackburn to the mound Monday in their home opener against the Los Angeles Angels. … Hardy’s homer was his first RBI of the season. Betemit’s double produced his first RBIs with Baltimore. … Morneau’s double was his 233rd, pushing him past Harmon Killebrew into sole possession of eighth place on the Twins’ career list. … Orioles starters have allowed one earned run in 22 innings.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (17)
  1. SDK says:

    Everyone know we are in deep doo doo with the worst pitching staff in the Majors.

  2. Brett says:

    LOL! Picking up right where they left last year I see. twins tickets will be dirt cheap, if not free.this season. What a joke of a team.

  3. Mike says:

    There might be 159 games left, but after losing the season opening series to a team who was beaten by a community college team a week before I am no longer a Twins fan. Shame on whomever is responsible on the Twins hierarchy for not pushing to improve their team. The push for Target Field being built might have been a fine goal, but so far the Twins have nothing to show for it.

  4. Obadiah says:

    You know if the Twins had just been swept like this by the Red Sox or the Yankees or some other contending team, this would not seem so bad. But the Orioles? Really? Who can they beat? Sorry, I hope I am wrong, I want to be wrong but this looks like the start of perhaps the worst Twins season in history. They certainly look (for the moment) fully capable of losing more than 102 games (a lot more). The pitching staff looks awful. Even our best starters would be a number 4 or worse pitcher on just about any other team. The offense looks like a big nothing against the Orioles. Like I say, if they can’t hit against that pitching staff, who can they hit against? After the public spent close to a half billion dollars on a new stadium, we deserve a better team than one that is the worst in the majors. We were told a new stadium would bring in more revenue so that the team can compete. It would seem that was not true at all (the compete part). We had far more competative teams when they played at the dome. And now that we also have one of the worst AAA teams in the minors, there does not seem to be any hope on the horizon either.

    1. Obadiah says:

      Darn, I posted my previous post with the real hope someone would give me some hope by disagreeing with me and telling me what and idiot I was for giving up on them so early in the season. The fact that nobody did is quite disheartening. This has got to be the lowest point for Twins fans in over 12 years or so.

  5. Margo says:

    Another joke Minnesota team!!!!

  6. Little Tin God says:

    It’s gonna be a long, LONG season. Again.

  7. Al says:

    Fire Gardenhoser.

  8. Pumphandle says:

    Baltimores 3rd game had a crowd of 14,500, how long before twins draw 15,000 a game, 2 years?

  9. rcam says:

    they put all their eggs in the M&M basket and getting very little in return.

    1. Gdon221 says:

      Yup, and both of them if they were willing to help this team in any way possible would offer to restructure their contracts. They’re going to be locked into a bad lineup, which Gardy has no control over for a number of years due to the M&M boys big money deals. Also, add into the equation that the Pohlads now have their new stadium, and they can go back to being cheap. This is going to suck for a long time.

    2. dmitch says:

      hit the nail right on the head rcam. m&m’s surrounded by triple a talent. no team leader and a hitting coach that never played in the big leagues

  10. Greg Looseanus says:

    The twins suck.

  11. Foul Ball says:

    The Twins stadium sucks, Calvin has to be rolling in his grave.

  12. Foul Ball says:

    Don’t forget your gloves this afternoon, and I don’t mean baseball gloves.

    1. Pumphandle says:

      The stadium is the only thing that doesn’t suck about this team, it was voted #1 venue in all of sports 1.5 years ago, just because you can’t afford to go and have a good time don’t hate on us that have made something with our lives. Yeah Calvin is rolling in his grave that they don’t play at the metrodome the place rated #2 nd worst in pro sports, wow you’re sharp

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