Originally written on Fox Sports  |  Last updated 6/22/12
The Washington Nationals may be one of the biggest surprises in baseball, but Jason Hammel's rise with the Baltimore Orioles may be just as stunning. With their offense scuffling, the Orioles likely will need another strong effort from the right-hander Friday night when they face the Nationals in the opener of this three-game Beltway Series. Washington (40-27) is the surprise leader in the NL East, as it tries to eventually reach the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history and first since 1981 as the Montreal Expos. While the Nationals' success has been unexpected, the same could be said for Hammel (7-2, 2.87 ERA) after he was acquired by Baltimore (39-30) in a three-player trade with Colorado in the offseason. He's among the AL leaders in ERA and has already matched his win total from last season. Hammel had the best performance of his career in Saturday's 5-0 win at Atlanta. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and finished with a one-hitter and eight...
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