Hammel leaves Friday’s start early with knee injury

July 13, 2012 | Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Making the first start of the second half for the Orioles on Friday, Jason Hammel left the game in the top of the fourth inning with a right knee injury.

Hammel appeared to land awkwardly after delivering a 1-2 pitch to Brennan Boesch. After throwing a couple practice pitches and being examined by the training staff and manager Buck Showalter, Hammel walked gingerly to the dugout and was replaced by reliever Luis Ayala. He will be evaluated further on Saturday, the club announced.

The right-hander has dealt with right knee soreness for most of the season despite being the Orioles’ best starting pitcher. He entered the night with an 8-5 record and a 3.47 earned run average.

According to Hammel’s brother Bill, the 29-year-old felt as though something popped in his right knee but was not experiencing much swelling in the later innings of the game. The pitcher will undergo an MRI tomorrow.

Hammel and Saturday’s starter Wei-Yin Chen are the only current members of the starting rotation left from the beginning of the season after Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk before the All-Star break.

Given the Orioles’ starting pitching woes for much of the season, Friday’s development could be a disastrous blow to the club’s wild-card hopes should Hammel miss significant time with the injury.

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