The Baysox snapped their four game winning streak Thursday night with a 3-2 loss to the Binghamton Mets. Despite a 33-minute rain delay that pushed back the first pitch to 7:37 p.m., right-hander Ryohei Tanaka stayed sharp, throwing seven innings of three hit baseball while retiring the final ten batters he faced. However, the usually dependable Bowie bullpen failed to get the job done surrendering two runs in the top of the eighth inning, effectively spoiling Tanaka’s masterful outing.
The Mets opened the scoring in the top half of the third inning when shortstop Jose Coronado scored on a single by center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Coronado singled to lead-off the inning before right fielder Jonothan Malo laid down a textbook sacrifice bunt to advance Coronado into scoring position. Neiuwenhuis followed with a ground ball up the middle to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
Mets’ left handed starter Mike Antonini matched Tanaka pitch-for-pitch holding the Baysox hitless through 4.2 innings before Tyler Henson broke up the no-hitter with a broken bat single up the middle.
“I actually had a broken bat at the time,” said Henson. “[Field Coach] Moe Hill told me last night, ‘Hey, it’s got one more left in it, you might as well use it until it snaps.’ So I went out and used it and it ended up having one more hit in it.”
Shortstop Matt Tucker followed with a line drive base hit that ricocheted off of Mets’ third baseman Eric Campbell’s glove into shallow left field. The two-out rally continued when second baseman Carlos Rojas lined the Baysox third consecutive hit up the middle to plate Henson, tying the ballgame at 1-1. Antonini escaped further damage by striking out center fielder Danny Figueroa on three pitches stranding runners on first and second base.
Antonini found himself in more trouble in the top of the seventh inning when Baysox designated hitter Robbie Widlansky singled through the hole on the right side to lead off the inning. Henson reached first safely after laying down a bunt to put runners on first and second base with no one out. After Widlansky was retired at third on a failed bunt attempt by shortstop Matt Tucker, Mets manager Tim Teufel relinquished Antonini of his duties by bringing in RHP Manuel Alvarez to squash the rally keeping the score knotted at 1-1.
“[Antonini] pitched well, he had every pitch going for him tonight,” said Henson. “His change-up was really good, I think that was his out pitch on the night. He mixed up the fastball in and out on us, and he gave a lot of guys trouble.”
After struggling in the third inning, Tanaka settled in for the remainder of the outing attacking hitters, not allowing a single walk in the start.
“[Tanaka] threw the ball really well, it was probably one of his better outings of the year,” said Bowie Pitching Coach Kennie Steenstra. “He was down in the zone, mixed his pitches well and gave us a chance to win.”
In 13 innings against the Mets this season, Tanaka has only allowed one earned run.
Things started to unravel for the Baysox when reliever Eddie Gamboa was brought on in the top of the eighth inning. After a leadoff walk and a fielder’s choice, Gamboa served up a softball that was launched over the left field fence by Jose Coronado to break the tie, putting the Mets up 3-1. With Tanaka’s marvelous outing erased, Gamboa lost focus and allowed a single followed by a walk to put runners on first and second. After a strikeout, Gamboa walked the next hitter to load the bases. The Mets were on the verge of breaking the game open when Gamboa reared back and struck out Marshall Hubbard to escape with no further damage.
Eddie Gamboa entered today’s contest having not allowed a run in his previous four appearances. However, Gamboa’s inconsistencies caught up with him again.
“You’re put in that situation believing you’re going to get out of it and when that pitch gets away and the guy hits it over, it’s tough to get it back,” said Gamboa. “It was a tough inning, but I did my best to get out of it and give the team a chance to come back, but it just didn’t work out.”
The Baysox rebounded in the bottom half of the inning with a run of their own to close the gap to 3-2. With the bases loaded and one down, Robbie Widlansky grounded into a fielder’s choice driving in the Baysox second run of the ballgame. Tyler Henson flew out to center ending what ultimately proved to be the Baysox closest opportunity to tie the ballgame.
“Altogether, we’ve played well as a team, from the pitchers to the position guys,” said Henson. “When we hit together, we win a lot of games and when we went through that time when we weren’t winning, it was a hit here, a hit there and we weren’t putting it together as a team, but we finally have.”
Mets’ left-handed reliever Roy Merritt retired the final five hitters he faced recording the save preventing the sweep and sending Baysox fans home disappointed.
It was a night of missed opportunities for Baysox hitters as they stranded eight runners on base recording only one base hit in eight opportunities with runners in scoring position.
The Erie SeaWolves will roll into town for three more games starting Friday at 7:05 p.m. in a series that features two of the most highly anticipated events of the year at Prince George’s Stadium. Friday is Legends of Wrestling Night, where fans can meet and get autographs from three-time WWF champion and New York Times bestselling author Mick Foley. That Saturday is Louie’s Big Birthday Bash, as the Baysox loveable green mascot will celebrate his birthday in style with several of his mascot friends and a pre-game concert for kids by Milkshake. Tickets are $10 and include admission to the pre-game concert, and a general admission seat ticket for the Baysox game.