The Colorado Rockies starter came out to the mound wearing stirrups and his pants pulled high in the style of teammate Ubaldo Jimenez(notes). More importantly, Hammel made a change in his delivery at the suggestion of pitching coach Bob Apodaca, a switch the right-hander credited for his strong performance in a 3-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
Between starts, Hammel (5-8) and Apodaca worked on Hammel’s windup, adding a move in which Hammel brings his hands above his head. That gave Hammel a more consistent rhythm and better command of his fastball.
“I needed to change something up,” Hammel said. “I was in this rut where a lot of games we should have won when I was on the mound we didn’t, and other games I wasn’t even showing up.”
Hammel allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings for his second win since April 30. Colorado snapped a five-game losing streak and won for the first time in eight road games.
“You forget what it feels like sometimes,” said reliever Matt Reynolds(notes), who replaced Hammel in the seventh and didn’t allow a baserunner. “Get a good start, good defense, enough offense. It’s a formula we’d like to keep going.”
Jonathan Herrera(notes) singled in the fourth, the first Colorado hitter to reach base. Helton and Wigginton followed with consecutive singles off Lannan. Herrera scored on Wigginton’s hit, a shot that deflected off Lannan’s glove and struck him in the face.
“It’s the manager’s worst nightmare,” Nationals skipper Davey Johnson said. “Very fortunate it didn’t do a lot of damage. That ball was smoked.”
After Lannan left, a fielder’s choice by Mark Ellis(notes) put runners on the corners, and Helton scored on Mattheus’ balk. Garner followed with a run-scoring single—his first major league hit—to give Colorado a 3-1 lead.
Washington’s first three batters of the game reached to load the bases against Hammel, but the only run of the inning came on Michael Morse’s(notes) sacrifice fly. Hammel struck out Jayson Werth(notes) and got Rick Ankiel(notes) to pop out to second base to get out of the jam.
“That was huge,” Hammel said. “That changed the complexion of the game, because we go down big there, especially with the way we’ve been playing—I don’t want to say it, but sometimes it looks like we just pack it up after we get down. That’s not a good trait to have, but the way we’ve been playing it’s tough to dust yourself off in that situation.”
“I felt he was a lot smoother,” Colorado manager Jim Tracy said of Hammel’s adjustment. “He threw quality strikes up and down in the zone.”
NOTES: Washington placed C Ivan Rodriguez(notes) (right oblique strain) on the 15-day DL before the game and recalled C Jesus Flores(notes) from Triple-A Syracuse. … RHP Cole Kimball(notes), who has been on the disabled list since June 10, will undergo surgery next week in New York to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Johnson said he expects the surgery to be season-ending. … Colorado OF Carlos Gonzalez(notes) started after missing four games with a bruised right wrist. … Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki(notes) did not start, but should be available on Saturday, Tracy said. Tulowitzki has missed four games with a tight hamstring. … The Rockies placed OF Charlie Blackmon(notes) on the 15-day disabled list with a broken left foot and recalled Garner from Triple-A Colorado Springs before the game.