When asked to rate his performance, Hammel didn't hesitate for a second.
"Unacceptable," he said. "Far too many baserunners, getting behind hitters. Fastball-hitting club that I'm feeding fastballs. It's easy to hit when you know it's coming. I'm not throwing sliders for strikes. I'm not throwing curveballs where I want them. Changeup's non-existent. I'm beating myself right now."
Hammel started the season 5-1, but this loss dropped him to 7-6 with a 5.24 ERA. The Blue Jays hit the ball hard and often, and things might have been worse if Hammel's teammates didn't give him plenty of defensive help, especially when he struggled early. The Orioles (52-43) turned double plays in the first and second innings, and catcher Matt Wieters threw out Emilio Bonifacio trying to steal second in the third.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter wouldn't express much worry or concern for the right-hander who pitched so well at times in 2012.
"I think good things are ahead for him," Showalter said. "He's shown us he can do it. I have a lot of confidence in him."
But Hammel ran into immediate trouble in the first inning. Jose Reyes lined the right-hander's third pitch off the right-field wall for a double. Edwin Encarnacion then crushed a two-run homer to left-center one out later for a quick 2-0 Toronto lead only three batters into the game.
The Orioles rallied when Chris Davis hit an opposite-field homer, sending a 3-2 pitch from Toronto starter Todd Redmond into the seats in left-center with one out in the bottom of the second. Davis leads the Major Leagues with 36 homers and has hit one in three straight games.
Adam Jones tied it with a long homer to left on the first pitch of the fourth, and Brian Roberts' RBI double later that inning put the Orioles up, 3-2.
But Toronto (45-48) answered with a two-run rally in the sixth and three runs in the seventh. The Jays loaded the bases with three straight two-out singles in the sixth before J.P. Arencibia lined a two-run single to left for a 4-3 lead that they never lost.
Hammel hit Bonifacio and walked Reyes to start the seventh, ending his day. Toronto went on to score three runs on just one hit during the inning. Jose Bautista knocked in Bonifacio with a double. Reyes scored when Adam Lind ripped a line drive that Davis thought he caught at first, but it went off his glove and rolled away. Roberts picked it up and threw to J.J. Hardy for a forceout at second, but a run scored on the play. Bautista then scored on another forceout for a 7-3 lead.
"It was a good ballgame," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We fell behind and got the big hit from Arencibia, which was big, and then we opened it up a little bit late."
The Toronto bullpen shut down the Orioles after that. Aaron Loup (4-3) got the win with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, coming in for Redmond in the fifth. Dustin McGowan, Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar and Casey Janssen came on after that as the bullpen held the Orioles to three hits in the final five innings. Janssen got his 18th save by going two-thirds of an inning in the ninth.
"You get Cecil and Delabar in there, you know they've had amazing first halves," Jones said. "So they're just doing what they've been doing all year. They had the lead. They brought in that shut-down bullpen, and they shut us down."
The Orioles couldn't bail out Hammel on offense, and that left the veteran with a lot to think about heading into the All-Star break.
Hammel wants to do better in the second half and help his team. Right now, though, he hasn't been able to find the answer for what's evolved into a rather complicated puzzle."
"This game can be really frustrating," Hammel said. "It's good timing for an All-Star break, but I know I'm better than this. I've got to get rolling again. This team needs consistency out of me, and it's not what they're getting right now."