The Bowie Baysox hit five home runs as they powered past the Binghamton Mets with a 10-5 victory Tuesday night, the first time that the Baysox have sent five balls out of the park since August 26, 2008, against Trenton. Bowie put the game away in the fourth inning, with seven runs including back-to-back-to-back home runs.
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who led off the Baysox order as the designated hitter, had another fine game in his Major League rehab assignment, going 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. He is scheduled to play nine innings at second base in Wednesday morning’s game, and is further scheduled to stay with the Baysox through Saturday.
“I got more comfortable as the night went on,” Roberts said. “I haven’t had a whole lot of at-bats right-handed yet, so it’s good to get in there — I was hoping to see a few lefties today and maybe tomorrow. You get more comfortable every time you step in, and that’s what I need at this point.”
“My back was fine,” he added, “but playing DH you don’t get into the rhythm of the game; you cool down, then you get hot, then you cool down. I guess it’s probably a pretty good test of where you’re at, physically. I got stiff towards the end; not my back, just from sitting around.”
Baysox starting pitcher Steve Johnson threw one of his best games of the year, recording his first win since June 12 and breaking a three game losing streak over his previous five starts. The Baltimore native finished with two unearned runs on four hits through 6.0 innings as he struck out 10 batters and walked three.
“It was a pretty big game,” Johnson said. “There are still things I need to work on, I got away with a lot today — there were a lot of 3-1 counts that I got out of. I need to work on getting ahead a little better, but results wise, it was big. The fastball was working well. I threw a couple change-ups, but everything else was a two-strike pitch. I couldn’t get ahead with them, and it was frustrating; that’s what got me into trouble in the second and third innings, but my fastball got me out of everything today.”
Also impressive from Johnson was his continued ability to keep the ball in the yard. He leads the league with 19 home runs allowed, but has given up just one in his four July starts after allowing 10 in June.
“You know, [Joel] Guzman got his 20th home run today, and I thought I was going to give up mine for a while, with the way the wind was going,” Johnson said. “I guess that would’ve been pretty cool, I’d have taken that 20-and-20.”
The Mets took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a pair of unearned runs. After Sean Ratliff reached first on a single to second base that ricocheted off Johnson’s glove, Binghamton first baseman Josh Satin drew a walk after hitting a fly ball that Guzman dropped in foul territory for an error. Marshall Hubbard walked to load the bases before Johnson put out two batters while holding all three runners in place. His high-wire act fell apart when second baseman Jose Coronado doubled down the left field line, plating Ratliff and Satin.
After shortstop Greg Miclat walked to start the bottom of the third inning, the Baysox pulled even when second baseman Carlos Rojas mashed the first pitch he saw over the left field wall. It was just the third home run of Rojas’ career; he also delivered his first at Prince George’s Stadium on July 30, 2008.
The Baysox ripped into Binghamton starter Mike Antonini in the fourth inning. Miclat opened the salvo with a one-out double to right field and stole third base with two outs and Roberts batting. Roberts lashed an RBI double down the right field line and scored when third baseman Ryan Adams followed with another double off the left field wall. Center fielder Tyler Henson plated Adams with a broken bat single to center field, as his bat head went flying into the third base bleachers, fortunately not hitting any fans.
After getting ahead in the count 2-0, Guzman crushed the ball over the center field wall for a two-run homer that gave him sole possession of the Eastern League home runs lead. First baseman Joe Mahoney followed Guzman with another long ball to right-center field. Mahoney has been sensational in his first 10 Double-A games, batting .378 (14-for-37) with seven extra-base hits and eight RBIs.
“The pitchers here are good,” Mahoney said. “The guys know where they’re throwing every pitch and everything’s better, but I’m just looking to find a good pitch and drive it.”
Mahoney’s bomb signaled the end of Antonini’s night, as Binghamton brought on right-hander Dylan Owen to stop the bleeding. Owen’s fresh arm could not counteract the Baysox momentum, as left fielder Brandon Waring produced the same result, tucking Owen’s first pitch just inside the foul pole as it sailed over the right-field wall. Catcher Caleb Joseph kept the rally going with a single to right field, but it finally ended as Miclat grounded into a fielder’s choice. When the dust settled, the Baysox held a 9-2 lead over the Mets. It was the first time the Baysox hit three home runs in an inning since they beat the Erie SeaWolves on June 6, 2009.
Johnson recorded an emphatic end to his six innings, striking out the side in order to match a career high with 10 strikeouts. He finished strong, striking out five of the last seven batters he faced.
“It felt good [to strike out the side], with 3-2 counts and everything,” Johnson said. “I was a little scared I was going to walk those guys because my fastball was missing high and missing low, luckily they swung at the high ones. But, it was big, I liked that.”
Mahoney tacked on one more run in the bottom of the sixth, driving the ball over the right field wall to put the Baysox up 10-2. With his second blast of the night, Mahoney joined Guzman and Waring as the third Baysox player to record a multi-homer game in 2010.
Binghamton mounted a late charge after Johnson left the game. Satin hit a one-out double off reliever Sean Gleason in the top of the eighth inning, and scored on Hubbard’s single to left field.
Jose Diaz took over in the top of the ninth inning, and hit catcher Salomon Manriquez to open the final frame. Manriquez moved to second base on Coronado’s single to left field and shortstop Michael Fisher loaded the bases with a single to right field. Nick Evans hit a ground ball to third base, sending Manriquez across the plate as Fisher was forced out at second base. Evans’ ball could have been a double play, but he reached safely when Rojas’ errant throw from second missed Mahoney and Coronado raced home for an unearned run. Diaz then regained some composure, inducing a fly out before striking out Ratliff to end the game with the Baysox walking out 10-5 winners.
With the win, the Baysox have taken the season series against Binghamton, and are now 52-45 on the year. The top of the Western Division standings is getting tighter, as the Baysox are now 6.0 games behind Altoona as the Akron Aeros continue to put pressure on Bowie from below, trailing the Baysox by just half a game.
The Baysox and B-Mets play just once more this year, on Wednesday, at 11:05 a.m. The Richmond Flying Squirrels then arrive for a four-game series that begins Thursday at 7:05 p.m. The weekend series against Richmond includes some of the Baysox best events of 2010, starting with the Nolan Reimold bobblehead giveaway on Thursday. The first 1,000 fans ages 3 and up to enter the ballpark will receive a bobblehead commemorating the powerful Orioles outfielder, who dazzled fans with a three-home run game at Prince George’s Stadium in the 2008 playoffs.
Saturday, July 24, is Star Wars Night, one of the most eagerly anticipated events at Prince George’s Stadium, with lightsaber battles between innings by reenactors in movie-quality replica Star Wars costumes. Sunday is Football Funday Sunday, as the Baysox get geared up for the upcoming football season with former NFL players on-hand for a meet-and-greet and autographs.