After having just one player at the All-Star game each of the past six seasons, the Baltimore Orioles are sending three to this year's Midsummer Classic.
They could get a fourth if Jason Hammel can win over voters this week.
Hammel tries to bounce back from his worst outing of the season and pitch his way into the All-Star game when he takes the ball in Monday night's series opener against the Seattle Mariners .
Baltimore (42-36) arrives in Seattle having dropped nine of 12, but still holds the AL's second wild-card spot. As a result of its surprising first half, the team will be well-represented at the All-Star game with catcher Matt Wieters , outfielder Adam Jones and closer Jim Johnson all earning selections prior to Sunday's 6-2 loss to Cleveland. It's the first time the Orioles will have more than one All-Star since 2005, when they sent four.
Hammel (8-3, 3.29 ERA) could be the fourth this year, as one of five right-handed pitchers on the ballot for the final AL roster spot, decided by fans voting online through Thursday. He has anchored Baltimore's rotation, leading the team in wins and strikeouts (89).
"Obviously, it's a tremendous honor just to be in the Final Vote," he told the Orioles' official website. "It would be a nice personal accomplishment, but you still need the team to get to this point."
Hammel entered Wednesday's start against the Los Angeles Angels having gone 19 straight innings without allowing an earned run, but that streak came to an abrupt end. He was shelled for eight runs and eight hits in a season-low 3 1-3 innings of a 13-1 loss.
He could have an easier time against the Mariners, who have combined for nine runs in their last eight contests. Hammel has done a good job of shutting down Seattle in the past, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts.
The Mariners (34-47) lost 2-1 in 10 innings to Boston on Sunday, managing only 20 hits while splitting their four-game series with the Red Sox.
Cleanup hitter Jesus Montero is batting .111 with 14 strikeouts in his last 10 contests and has gone 11 games without an RBI.
Ichiro Suzuki , however, is hitting .353 in his last 12 games, and is 5 for 7 lifetime against Hammel.
The Mariners counter with Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 4.75), who is scheduled to make his first major league start.
Taking the rotation spot of the injured Kevin Millwood (groin), Iwakuma has primarily been used as Seattle's long reliever. He has gone at least three innings in six of his 14 appearances, including his most recent. After Millwood left Wednesday's game against Oakland with a strained right groin in the third inning, the Japanese right-hander allowed one run, one hit and two walks over 3 2-3 innings but got charged with the Mariners' 2-1 loss.
Iwakuma will be facing a Baltimore offense that is having some trouble of its own, averaging 2.5 runs while batting .196 in its last 13 games.
Jim Thome went 0 for 4 in his Baltimore debut Sunday, and Wieters is batting .205 in his last 13 contests.
Jones has been one bright spot with three straight multihit games, and he hit .591 with a homer and six RBIs against Seattle in 2011.
The Orioles went 4-2 against the Mariners last season, but have lost five of their last six games at Safeco Field.
|June 28, 2012||Nick Johnson||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|June 27, 2012||Nick Johnson||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
|June 13, 2012||Brian Matusz||Day-to-Day||Bruised nose|
|June 13, 2012||Endy Chavez||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|June 12, 2012||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - Strained right hamstring|
|June 07, 2012||Adam Jones||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist soreness|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
|June 13, 2012||Stephen Pryor||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|June 12, 2012||Mike Carp||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder injury|
SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle Mariners have struggled to score at home this season, so this one was particularly nice.
Casper Wells hit a go-ahead, three-run double with two out in the seventh inning and the Mariners beat the slumping Baltimore Orioles 6-3 on Monday night.
Miguel Olivo and Dustin Ackley added back-to-back homers in the eighth as the Mariners rallied to win their first game of the season against Baltimore.
"You get a starter late in the ballgame there you're hoping you get a mistake or a pitch to hit and I think we got a couple of those but the fact of the matter is you still have to hit them," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "I think that's been our biggest issue. I don't think it's been a situation of we haven't had pitches to hit."
Scoring at Safeco Field has been a constant problem all season for Seattle. The six runs were the Mariners' most at home since June 16 and only the second time they reached that number in Seattle since May 21. While the Mariners' lineup has been respectable on the road, they entered Monday night hitting below .200 at home.
Seattle appeared to be headed for more of the same until it used a pair of walks, a single and Wells' clutch hit to move in front against Jason Hammel (8-4) in the seventh. Being better in circumstances like the seventh was something Wells focused on when he was demoted to the minors in late May.
"In big situations before I would try and do too much and in situations now I focus on being aggressive and getting a good pitch to hit and it's been successful so far," Wells said.
Ackley started the seventh with a walk and stole second when Hammel struck out Chone Figgins on a 3-2 pitch. Ackley advanced to third on Munenori Kawasaki 's single, but Brendan Ryan fouled out when catcher Matt Wieters made the catch at the edge of the top step of the Mariners' dugout. Ichiro Suzuki walked to load the bases and Wells followed with a liner that gave Seattle a 4-3 lead.
Wells picked up his first RBIs since June 20 at Arizona and atoned for striking out with a runner on second in the third inning.
"I did exactly what I wanted, started him with a fastball away and then a slider off the plate, what we had been doing all night," Hammel said. "He changed his approach and went out and got it."
Olivo hit his seventh homer against Troy Patton and Ackley drove the next pitch over the wall in right for his fifth of the season. It was the second set of consecutive homers this season for Seattle.
Chris Davis hit a three-run shot off Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma in the fourth, but that accounted for all of Baltimore's offense. After Davis' 14th homer, the Orioles got just three baserunners against Iwakuma, Steve Delabar (2-1), Shawn Kelley and Tom Wilhelmsen . Delabar worked two innings, striking out three. Kelley struck out a pair in the eighth and Wilhelmsen worked the ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the third when the unlikely trio of Figgins, Kawasaki and Ryan - none of whom entered the night hitting higher than .186 - combined to plate the first run. Figgins led off with a single, moved up on Kawasaki's sacrifice and scored on Ryan's single to center.
Ryan was stranded at second and Seattle wasted another opportunity in the sixth. Wells' one-out single was followed by John Jaso 's double that should have been caught by Steve Pearce in left, but glanced off his glove. With runners at second and third, Kyle Seager hit a tapper in front of the plate and Olivo struck out.
Iwakuma was making a spot start with Kevin Millwood still nursing a sore groin that has twice forced him to leave starts early in the past month. Iwakuma threw five innings, giving up just three hits. But he made the one critical mistake to Davis on a 1-0 pitch.
"I thought he did a really nice job today. One bad pitch got him, but he settled down and kept pitching out of that," Wedge said. "A lot of people asked what I expected out of him and I said just give us a chance to win the ballgame."
NOTES: The Mariners had three Japanese players in the starting lineup - Suzuki, Kawasaki and Iwakuma - for the first time in major league history. ... Seattle signed first-round draft pick C Mike Zunino. Zunino was taken with the No. 3 overall pick in June's amateur draft. He will be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday. ... Newly acquired Baltimore DH Jim Thome had his first hit with the O's in the fourth inning.