The Bowie Baysox fell to the Portland Sea Dogs 8-6 in a grueling three-hour, 12-minute contest in sweltering temperatures Wednesday night. Each team hit a pair of two-run home runs as they combined for 12 extra-base hits. The Baysox lost despite putting their leadoff man on base in seven of nine innings.
“It happens like that sometimes, even when you are scoring runs,” said shortstop Greg Miclat, who went 3-for-5 with three doubles. “You just can’t find a way to win. We’ve just got to put it behind us; we’ve got an important game tomorrow and hopefully we can pull out a ‘W’ then. I have faith in this team. I think we’re a really good team. The wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Baltimore Orioles outfielder, and 2008 Eastern League MVP, Lou Montanez rejoined the Baysox on a Major League rehab assignment and went 1-for-5 with a run scored. The Orioles have become red-hot in his absence, going 8-1 since Buck Showalter took over as manager.
“It’s fun to see them play to their potential. We always knew that we had good players, we just never put it together this season,” Montanez said. “It seemed like everything wanted to go the opposite way. Finally they are doing things right. I don’t know what it is, but finally they are clicking and they are showing what they could have been doing all year. It’s good for next year. It gives fans hope that we have a good team and maybe next year we start off like that.”
Left-hander Pedro Viola took his second loss of the season as he gave up five runs on six hits through 5.0 innings. Both of Portland’s home runs came off Viola and were the first he surrendered since joining the Baysox on June 4.
“You can’t win them all, but I felt good,” Viola said, through a translator. “I thank God that everything is good health-wise, and everything felt OK.”
“He just made a couple of mistakes out over the plate to a couple of their big power hitters and they did what they were supposed to do with them,” Pitching Coach Kennie Steenstra said. “He didn’t pitch that badly, he made a few mistakes, the thing that hurt him were the extra-base hits. I think five of the six hits he gave up were extra-base hits. Especially the two two-run homers, obviously came back to hurt him.”
Sea Dogs shortstop Ray Chang hit a bloop single to right field with two outs in the top of the first inning before designated hitter Luis Exposito uncorked a powerful blast that cleared the wall in left field to put the Baysox down 2-0.
Portland’s lead was short-lived, as Miclat opened the bottom of the first inning with a leadoff double and third baseman Ryan Adams cleared the right-field wall with his 11th home run of the year. Adams has matched August’s blazing heat with a hot streak of his own, batting .441 through nine games in the month with six doubles and seven RBIs, posting a .568 on-base percentage and a .708 slugging percentage.
The visitors fired another salvo in the top of the third inning, as Che-Hsuan Lin led off with a double to center field and stole third base with one out. Chang drove him in with a groundout to shortstop that reclaimed the lead for Portland. With the bases cleared, Viola issued a free pass to Exposito, who moved to second on a wild pitch before Anthony Rizzo belted a home run to center field to put Portland up 5-2. Rizzo has thrashed the Baysox in their season series, with three home runs and 11 RBIs in the clubs’ five meetings this year.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Miclat hit his third leadoff double in as many at-bats. Adams joined him on the basepaths with a walk and Lou Montanez loaded the bases with a bloop single to shallow center field. Montanez’s hit extended his Baysox-record hit streak to 22 games, dating back to July 17, 2008 and bridging his 2009 Major League rehab stint with the Baysox.
“I was keeping track of my hit streak. I extended it in Norfolk, and I kept it going for a while, but I didn’t know I still had it here in Bowie,” Montanez said. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing, that you put the pressure on me for tomorrow, but I’m glad I still have it.”
Right fielder Joel Guzman hit a fly ball to right field that was caught for an out and turned into a double play as Miclat tagged up and tried to score from third base, but was tagged out at the plate as he bowled over catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Montanez and Adams moved to second and third base, respectively, and scored on first baseman Joe Mahoney’s single ripped along the ground into left field. Mahoney’s hit brought him to 22 RBIs in his 28 games with the Baysox, and cut the Portland lead down to 5-4.
The Sea Dogs restored their three-run lead in the top of the sixth inning, facing right-handed reliever Ryohei Tanaka. Outfielder Jorge Padron singled to left field with one out and scored on Ryan Khoury’s triple to right field. Khoury then scored to make the score 7-4 on Chih-Hsien Chiang’s double to center field.
The Baysox continued to fight back and Adams led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a single to right field. One out later, Guzman watched three pitches go past for balls and, desperate to record a strike, Portland reliever Ryne Reynoso threw a fastball down the middle of the plate. Guzman demolished his pitch, sending the ball soaring high over the left-field scoreboard for a two-run homer, his Eastern League-leading 26th of the year. After Guzman’s moonshot, the Baysox again trailed by one run, down 7-6.
Portland managed to score a valuable insurance run off right-hander Brandon Cooney in the top of the ninth inning. Second baseman Nate Spears hit a one-out single to center field and stole second base before Cooney walked Chang on four pitches, including a passed ball that advanced Spears to third base. Cooney’s control continued to falter, and he walked Exposito on four pitches to load the bases. Rizzo drove Spears in with a sacrifice fly to right field that extended the Portland lead to 8-6 before Cooney struck out Lavarnway to end the inning.
As they did all game, the Baysox continued to battle in the bottom of the ninth inning. Adams was hit by the first pitch of the inning, allowing him to reach base in all five of his plate-appearances. Adams moved to second on a wild pitch to Guzman and took third when the slugger grounded out to second base. Mahoney drew a walk, bringing catcher Caleb Joseph to the plate as the potential winning run, but Joseph flied out harmlessly to right field.
The loss drops the Baysox to 63-53 on the year, though they hang on to second place in the Eastern League’s Western Division. Bowie trails division-leaders Altoona by 3.0 games and holds a 1.5 game lead on third-place Harrisburg, which has won eight of its last 10 games.
The Baysox play the Boston Red Sox Double-A affiliate one more time this year, Thursday at 7:05 p.m. That game is Orioles Pride Night with a number of Baltimore Orioles prizes up for grabs with Montanez and Orioles right-hander Jim Johnson scheduled to play as part of their Major League rehab assignments.
After this series, the Baysox hit the road for six games in Erie and Trenton before Richmond and Akron come to Bowie for a six-game home stand. That home stand includes Fairy Tale Night on Wednesday, Aug. 21, with kids’ favorite fairy tale characters available for a meet-and-greet before the game. Fans can also catch the Baysox for a record-low price of one dollar on Wednesday, Aug. 25 with a coupon that can be printed out from Baysox.com.