The Bowie Baysox fell to the Erie SeaWolves 7-2 Tuesday night at Prince George’s Stadium as Erie starter Duane Below struck out 10 Baysox batters. The loss puts Bowie at 12-7 and drops them to second place in their division, half a game behind the Altoona Curve.
Orioles pitcher Koji Uehara made the start for the Baysox on a Major League rehab assignment as he recovers from a hamstring injury he suffered during spring training. He kept Erie off the board in his lone inning of work, with one hit and one strikeout in his minor league debut.
“He looked good, he mixed his pitches well, everything was down in the zone,” said Baysox Pitching Coach Kennie Steenstra. “I don’t think he’s going to blow the ball by anybody, but he knows how to change speeds and he knows how to locate and when you know how to do those things, you’re going to get a lot of people out.”
The first Japanese player in Orioles history gave way to the first Japanese player in Baysox history as Ryohei Tanaka took the mound in the second inning. Tanaka gave up the game’s opening run in the second inning off a solo-shot home run by Erie first baseman Michael Bertram and he coughed up another run when Audy Ciriaco was driven in by catcher Max St. Pierre in the top of the fourth.
The Baysox battled back in the bottom of the fourth inning. Left fielder Tyler Henson drew a one-out walk and moved to second when Brandon Waring broke up Below’s no-hitter with a single to center. Guzman hit a groundball to third that the SeaWolves tried to turn into a double play, throwing Waring out at second, but Bertram dropped the relay at first, allowing Henson to cross home on a heads-up play. Caleb Joseph then drove in Guzman after the big slugger stole his first base of the year.
Tanaka surrendered another solo homer to SeaWolves designated hitter Cesar Nicolas in the sixth that made the score 3-2 and he got into some real trouble in the seventh inning by walking the first two batters he faced before leaving the mound. Reliever Eddie Gamboa was unable to get the Baysox out of the jam as both of Tanaka’s runners scored after Gamboa allowed the first four batters he faced to reach base. Wilkin Ramirez hit an RBI double and Andy Dirks was intentionally walked before Nicolas and Ciriaco hit RBI singles to hang two runs on Gamboa. When the dust settled, the SeaWolves led by the eventual final score of 7-2.
Tanaka finished with five runs off six hits with five punch-outs, but by all accounts, he pitched better than the box score would indicate.
“I think he had great stuff,” said Joseph, who went 1-for-4 with an RBI double. “I think he had two solo homers, that’s gonna happen. He located the ball really well and the other times, he didn’t get in trouble, just a couple nub hits here and there. It doesn’t show in the box score, but he threw great. … If some of those dribblers turn into outs, he may go the distance for us. Could have gotten a double play here and there, stuff just didn’t fall his way tonight, and that’s just baseball.”
“I think he kind of ran out of gas a little bit in that last inning,” Steenstra said. “Even then, we’re a tag away from having a guy out at second base on a stolen base there and bring Eddie in, who’s usually very reliable but for whatever reason tonight he was just up in the zone a little bit and made some mistakes.”
It was the second game in a row in which the Baysox have struggled offensively, after belting out 52 hits over their previous four games.
“Bats are weird,” said Joseph. “Sometimes bats have hits, sometimes bats don’t. [Below] has a good fastball and we were coming off a day off, so maybe we were in a little bit of a funk, but it’s nothing to be too concerned about. If you go a week without swinging, maybe something’s wrong. Tomorrow, we’re liable to bang out 18 hits and 10 runs, that’s kind of just how this team is. It’s not hit-or-miss, but we’ve got a good hitting team and we’re not thinking twice about it.”
The Baysox will hope those bats have plenty of hits in them Wednesday, as they look to break their three-game losing streak in game two against Erie at 7:05 p.m.