The Bowie Baysox opened a seven-game home stand with a 6-2 win over the Binghamton Mets Monday on a muggy night at Prince George’s Stadium. Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts joined the Baysox on his Major League rehab assignment, going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
“It felt good to get in a game with lights and fans, and have a little bit of adrenaline,” Roberts said. “It was nice to get out there, my body felt good. I think it was good for me, and the fans were fun.”
The Baysox have won six of their last seven games at home, and stand at 51-45 in second place in the Eastern League’s Western Division, 7.0 games behind league leaders Altoona and half a game ahead of third-place Akron.
Right-handed pitcher Eddie Gamboa made his second start of the year, and did well in his season-high four innings, giving up one run on two hits. Fellow right-hander Raul Rivero notched his first Double-A win with 2.0 shutout innings out of the bullpen with a strikeout and one hit allowed.
“I had some mixed emotions about starting, because I didn’t know what was going on [in the bigger picture], but at the same time it’s a great opportunity to get some more innings, go deeper in the game and see what you’re capable of doing with these Double-A hitters,” Gamboa said. “The nice thing about being a starter is you know when you’re going to pitch, so you can prepare yourself as well as you possibly can.”
Gamboa’s lone run came on a 410-foot blast to dead center field by third baseman Nick Evans with one out in the top of the first inning.
“[My two-seam fastball] felt good,” Gamboa said. “If I could get ahead in the count, I felt pretty confident that we were going to get them out. I fell behind a lot today, and I was fortunate that they didn’t seem to hurt me too bad, aside from the home run. [Evans] hit a ball that didn’t move too much, and I paid for it.”
Bowie’s bats were lively right out of the gate, as Roberts opened the game with a double down the left field line. Third baseman Ryan Adams sent him to third with a single to center field, and Roberts scored on left fielder Tyler Henson’s single to left. The early rally stalled when outfielder Joel Guzman flied out to center field, and Adams was thrown out trying to tag up and advance to third base. First baseman Joe Mahoney struck out to close out the inning.
The Baysox broke the game open in the bottom of the second inning, as designated hitter Brandon Waring drew a walk to open the inning, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Waring moved on to third as center fielder Danny Figueroa grounded out to the shortstop. Shortstop Greg Miclat reached first on a walk, where Mets starter Chris Schwinden attempted a pickoff that sailed wide of the base and ricocheted off the wall as Waring scored and Miclat sprinted around to third base. Roberts recorded his second hit of the night with a single to right field that plated Miclat before Adams uncorked his ninth home run of the season, a line drive off the right field foul pole. When the dust settled, Bowie had jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
“Results are always good, I don’t care if they’re in rehab games or the big leagues, results are always good because they build your confidence, and confidence is a big part of this game,” Roberts said. “You always want to get results, you don’t ever want to go 0-for-5 even if it’s not the most important thing. Certainly I think if you’re hitting balls good and getting results, it’s a good indication of where you are.”
Figueroa was hit by his 11th pitch of the season in the bottom of the third inning, most in the Eastern League. Being a target for pitchers has worked out well for Figueroa, who has been deceptively effective this year. His .211 batting average is the lowest on the team among regulars, a stat that obscures his .344 on-base percentage, the third-highest on the club.
Bowie tacked on one more run in the seventh inning, which Guzman opened with a single to center field. Mahoney sent Guzman to third with his first hit of the night, a double down the left field line. Waring drew another walk to load the bases and, after striking out catcher Caleb Joseph, Binghamton reliever Eric Niesen walked Figueroa on four pitches to send Guzman across the plate for a 6-1 Baysox lead.
Binghamton shaved one run off the lead in the top of the eighth inning. Right-handed reliever Brandon Cooney walked shortstop Michael Fisher to open the inning, but Evans hit a grounder to Roberts, who set a double play in motion to put both runners out. Cooney issued another free pass to outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and continued to have control issues, as a wild pitch advanced Niewenhuis to second. Sean Ratliff plated Nieuwenhuis with a double to left field that put the score at 5-2.
2010 Eastern League All-Star Pedro Beato nearly ran into trouble as he closed out the game in the ninth inning. He walked Marshall Hubbard to start the inning and recorded two outs before second baseman Jose Coronado lofted a bloop single into center field that moved Hubbard to second base. Beato got ahead with a 0-2 count on Fisher, before three consecutive balls loaded the count, with the powerful Evans waiting in the on-deck circle. Beato settled his nerves, and caught Fisher looking with his seventh pitch to record the final out and secure the win.
Roberts was pleased with the victory, and seemed impressed with many of his teammates who might one day join him in Baltimore.
“The guys are swinging the bat great,” he said. “It looks like they’ve put together a pretty good team.”
The Baysox play two more games against Binghamton, starting Tuesday at 7:05 p.m., before the Richmond Flying Squirrels arrive for a four-game series on Thursday. 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.