The Bowie Baysox crumbled in the ninth inning of Monday's game against the Trenton Thunder, as the bullpen gave up seven runs en route to a 10-5 loss. The Baysox were denied a sweep of the Thunder, after defeating the Yankees' affiliate in the series' previous three games.
The Baysox fell behind early, as Trenton opened a 3-0 lead off starting pitcher Pedro Viola in the top of the first inning. Thunder outfielder Justin Christian led off with a single to left and shortstop Luis Nunez doubled to right field to leave both runners in scoring position with no outs. Right fielder Daniel Brewer cleared the bases with a double to center field, and scored from second on Marcos Vechionacci's single to right two batters later. Viola struck out the last two batters to end the inning after getting ahead in the count on all seven batters that came to the plate.
Shortstop Greg Miclat led off the bottom of the first inning with a single to left, and advanced to second after the play had seemingly ended when left fielder Jack Rye's throw to the infield missed its target completely. Miclat advanced to third on second baseman Ryan Adams' fly out to center field and scored when left fielder Caleb Joseph grounded out to the shortstop.
Viola settled himself after the first inning, and faced just one batter over the minimum through the next three innings, exiting after four innings with three runs scored on four hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
Adams led off the bottom of the fourth inning with an infield single to third base before Joseph lobbed a home run over the left field wall to tie the game. It was the 10th home run of the year for Joseph, who has turned on the power in July with four home runs and 10 RBIs in his last eight games. Joseph is the third Baysox player to reach 10 home runs this year, an improvement from the 2009 season, which saw Brandon Snyder and Eric Crozier top out at 10 home runs apiece to lead the team.
"I'm just feeling more comfortable at the plate, that's all it is," Joseph said. "The first half [of the season] was rough, not as rough as it looks. The past month, I was really squaring some balls up. I very easily could be sitting around .270, it's just a matter of missing a little bit lower and line drives turning into home runs. I'm not trying [to hit home runs] by any means."
Left-hander Chad Thall replaced Viola in the fifth inning, and faced one hitter over the minimum as he held off the Thunder for two innings. After inducing Brewer to ground out, Thall fell behind Trenton slugger Brandon Laird with a 3-0 count before Laird fouled the ball off his foot and could not finish the at-bat. Laird was replaced by Matt Cusick who drew ball four and took first base. Vechionacci hit a ground ball to shortstop, and Miclat attempted a difficult play throw him out at first. The ball sailed wide of its target and Cusick advanced to third base. Rye hit a chopper to Adams, who threw home, where catcher Steve Lerud tagged Cusick to prevent the go-ahead run. During the next at-bat, Rye took too big a lead off first base and was picked off by Lerud to end the inning.
"Steve hung in there at the plate good," Thall said. "Steve made a great play on the back pick. I went inside on the guy first, then he called another inside fastball because the right side [of the infield] was opened up with the guy holding him on at first. That was a great play to back pick the guy."
Former Orioles reliever Bob McCrory took over in the eighth inning and faced three batters. In the ninth inning, he struggled mightily to find the strike zone, walking Vechionacci on five pitches to open the inning. McCrory followed by walking Rye with four consecutive balls, as Rye showed his intention to bunt on each pitch. Rivera finally placed a bunt into no-man's land between the mound and third base, reaching safely to load the bases.
Baysox saves leader and Eastern League All-Star Pedro Beato replaced McCrory after the bunt, but he could not work any magic to save his team, walking Justin Snyder to send Vechionacci across the plate for the go-ahead run. Gonzalez followed Snyder with a bases-clearing triple to right-center field that put the Baysox down by four runs. After Christian grounded to third base for the first out, Nunez reached first with a grounder to third that caught Gonzalez in a rundown between Lerud and third baseman Brandon Waring, as Nunez moved to second base on the play.
Brewer hit another ground ball to Waring, who failed to tag Nunez out on the way to third, leaving both runners safe on the corners. Cusick laced a ground ball into right field to plate Nunez, before Vechionacci returned to score both Brewer and Cusick with a double to left field. By the time Rye popped out to center field to end the inning, Trenton had hung seven runs on the board, and the Baysox trailed 10-3.
Right fielder Joel Guzman gave the Baysox a glimmer of hope with a leadoff single to third base and, one out later, Waring unloaded on the first pitch he saw, sending it crashing into the left field scoreboard for a two-run home run, his 14th of the season. That home run was as far as the Baysox would get, as Danny Figueroa and Lerud were put out successively to end the game.
The loss drops the Baysox to 48-43 heading into the Eastern League All-Star break, leaving them in second place, eight games behind league leaders Altoona, and two games ahead of third-place Akron. Beato and left fielder Tyler Henson represent the Baysox in the mid-summer classic in Harrisburg, on Wednesday, July 14, at 7 p.m. Guzman and former Baysox pitcher Zach Britton were also selected to the Western Division All-Stars, but are unavailable to compete in the exhibition.
After the break, the Baysox hit the road for four games in Richmond before they return for a seven-game home stand against Binghamton and Richmond that begins at 7:05 p.m. on Monday, July 19. That Monday game against Binghamton is the Baysox second annual Mustache Mania, where fans can show their 'stache to save some cash; fans sporting a moustache -- natural, drawn or taped on -- can get a half-price lower reserved ticket at the box office. Saturday, July 24 is Star Wars Night, one of the most eagerly anticipated events at the ballpark this season, with lightsaber battles between innings by reenactors in authentic replica Star Wars costumes.
Think Outside The Box with the Baysox in 2010. The Baysox 18th season as the class Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles is underway. Catch all the action in Natural Definition! Baysox full-season and partial-season ticket packages are available now at www.baysox.com or by calling the group sales department at (301) 464-4880.