The Bowie Baysox dropped their fifth straight game Monday night, as they fell 5-4 to the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The loss knocks the Baysox down to 15-17 on the year, staying put in fourth place at six games behind the Western Division leading Altoona Curve.
Outfielder Miguel Abreu smacked the Baysox first grand slam of the year in the fourth inning to give the Baysox a 4-0 lead until reliever Pat Egan surrendered it with a four-run seventh. Abreu’s was the first grand slam for the Baysox since Ambiorix Concepcion hit one in his seven-RBI game against Reading on July 25, 2009.
Starting pitcher Steve Johnson continued to impress with his third consecutive quality start. He pitched six shutout innings while allowing two hits and fanning six Squirrels batters as his ERA dropped to 3.08.
“I was feeling good, a couple batters got away from me,” Johnson said. “A couple walks, that was a little bit frustrating. But, I was throwing the ball well for the most part. Most of my pitches were working, so I was just letting them hit it, and they were hitting them right at people, so that was nice.”
Second Baseman Ryan Adams has continued to thrive since being moved to the number two spot in the batting order. He hit a single in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to a team-best eight games.
“I like batting up in the order,” Adams said. “I might get an extra at-bat towards the end of the game — getting four at-bats or five versus three or four. I like hitting in that first inning and getting things going instead of kind of waiting around. Nothing’s really changed as far as my approach, I’m just trying to see the ball and hit it.”
Left fielder Paco Figueroa got Bowie going with a bloop single to right field in the fourth frame, followed by a walk by designated hitter Steve Lerud, who was added to the Baysox roster hours before the game. With two outs, Squirrels starter Ronnie Ray walked first baseman Joel Guzman to load the bags and yielded the mound to sidearm reliever Craig Whitaker. Outfielder Miguel Abreu got ahead in the count, working it to three balls and one strike before he crushed Whitaker’s fastball over the left field wall for the second grand slam of his career.
“The [pitcher] was kind of hard to pick up,” Abreu said. “He was a sidearm, so I was looking for an angle — where the strike was going to be. He started throwing me some sliders the first two pitches, so 2-0, he threw me a good fastball and I took it. At 3-1 I knew the fastball was coming again, and I tried to get in front of it; I hit it with the barrel and I got a good hit.”
Johnson worked two more innings with just one hit before Egan took the mound. Egan had been the Baysox most steady reliever this year, coming in with a 0.49 ERA and just one run allowed through 18.1 innings. He faltered, allowing a pair of singles to start the inning before walking outfielder Darren Ford to load the bases with two outs. He threw another walk to Squirrels shortstop Brandon Crawford that plated Richmond’s first run of the night. Designated hitter Thomas Neal rocked Egan with a bases-clearing triple that took a carom of the outfield wall that center fielder Jonathan Tucker struggled to read as the Squirrels leveled the score at four apiece.
“I think I played it pretty honest, it hit a pole in the fence, and I really can’t account for that,” Tucker said. “Pretty much everywhere else on the wall is pretty soft, so it’s one of those things — I came in at an angle to catch the ricochet off the soft part but it took an unnatural bounce.”
The Baysox stuck with Egan for the rest of the game and he walked Ford in the top of the ninth with two outs. Crawford then hit a single that dropped in shallow center field and sent Ford to third. Tucker attempted to bare-hand the ball as he came charging, but missed it, allowing Ford to sprint the final 90 feet to score the winning run.
Bowie hopes to snap their skid in game two against Richmond, Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. As with all Tuesday games this year, it will be a Belly Buster Bargain Night. Any fan who purchases a regularly priced lower reserved seat ticket ($14) receives a voucher for a free foot long hot dog, bag of peanuts and small popcorn. Fans who wish to come early can join in on the fun of the Baysox new Tailgate Tuesdays, featuring $5 general admission tickets before 6 p.m. and $2 drafts in the Bud Light picnic pavilion with live music by Terry Glaze, founding member of Pantera.