The Bowie Baysox were walloped 8-1 by the Akron Aeros Wednesday, dropping to 68-62 on the year and 1.5 games behind Harrisburg for second place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern League's Western Division with 12 games remaining. Akron starter Eric Berger utterly suppressed Bowie's bats with 6.0 shutout innings in which the Baysox managed just one hit. The Baysox offense has gone anemic at the worst possible time, as the team has collectively batted .203 over its last 10 games with 33 runs scored.
"You've got to keep running [the team] out there and hopefully they'll all get hot at once again," Baysox Manager Brad Komminsk said. "You can face the best pitcher in the league or the worst, it doesn't matter. We're just not swinging the bats well. It's just one of those little spells we're going through. I guess Berger threw well, but it's hard to say. He threw enough to one-hit us."
Baysox starting pitcher Eddie Gamboa's streak of three consecutive wins came to an end as he surrendered six runs (five earned) on nine hits and three walks through 5.0 innings.
"They're a really good team. I made a lot of mistakes and they took advantage of it," Gamboa said. "They hit the ball hard, inside, outside, they hit everything. It was a matter of trying to limit the runs and be able to pitch my game. They made it very difficult to do."
"I think the defense did a good job today. I think you can blame me, the innings were taking so long and the hitters were taking forever to get in the box. When you get your defense on their heels, plays like that are going to happen."
Akron's offense clicked right away, with three hits to start the game. Leadoff hitter Justin Henry opened the top of the first inning with an infield single to shortstop, and advanced to second on Jason Kipnis' line drive single to left field. An excellent pickoff move by Gamboa retired Henry at second base and prevented a run from scoring on Lonnie Chisenhall's double to left field, which advanced Kipnis to third base. Kipnis scored on a wild pitch to designated hitter Jerad Head that also allowed Chisenhall to take third. Head hit a sacrifice fly to center field, sending Chisenhall across the plate for a 2-0 lead.
Aeros right fielder John Drennen hit a one-out double to left-center field in the top of the second inning and advanced to third on a groundout before scoring on Tim Fedroff's single to center field that put Akron up 3-0.
The Baysox were hitless for 3.1 innings, until third baseman Ryan Adams hit a bloop single to right field, the only hit Bowie would record against the lefty. He was quickly retired when designated hitter Joel Guzman grounded into a double play that ended the inning.
Adams' hit did nothing to shift the momentum, and Akron dealt a heavy blow in the top of the fifth inning, as their entire lineup took a turn at the plate. Fedroff drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on Kipnis' double to center field with one out. Chisenhall's single to left-center field drove Fedroff in, and Head walked to load the bases. Akron first baseman Beau Mills hit a grounder to second baseman Carlos Rojas for a potential double play, but Rojas dropped the ball after picking it up, leaving all runners safe as Kipnis crossed home. Shortstop Carlos Rivero capped off the rally with a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Chisenhall for a 6-0 lead.
Former Orioles reliever Bob McCrory took over for Gamboa in the sixth inning, and recovered from a leadoff walk by initiating a double play and striking out Kipnis to end the inning. He struggled in the top of the seventh inning, giving up a single to Head before Mills drew a free pass on nine pitches. A bloop single by Rivero loaded the bases with one out, and Drennen hit a single to left field that scored Head and kept the bases loaded.
Aeros catcher Juan Apodaca hit a ground ball right to McCrory, who took a couple steps forward and tried to toss the ball to Baysox catcher Caleb Joseph for a forceout at the plate, but his throw went awry, missing Joseph as Mills scored to take an 8-0 lead. The Baysox caught a break on the play, as Rivero held up at third base while Drennen rounded second and tried to advance. Joseph waited just long enough to keep Rivero at third before throwing to shortstop Greg Miclat to retire Drennen at second base.
Berger finally left the game after the sixth inning, and Guzman promptly put Bowie on the board in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run to straightaway center field off reliever Steven Wright. Guzman leads the Eastern League with a career-high 29 home runs, and he is five away from breaking the Baysox single-season record of 33 homers, set by Walter Young in 2004.
Right-handed reliever Brandon Cooney took over on the hill for Bowie to begin the eighth inning, and he recorded the only three-up, three-down inning of the game for the Baysox, as Akron put a runner on base in every other inning.
The Baysox managed a total of four hits after Berger left the game, and put a runner on third base in the eighth inning and again in the ninth, but could not drive their man in in either situation. Joseph struck out swinging for the final out of the game with Guzman stranded on third base, as Bowie took the 8-1 loss.
"Our goal is going to the playoffs, and we're real excited about it," Gamboa said. "You have to take it one game at a time, and this one kind of slipped away from us, so we go in tomorrow and hopefully get something going."
After the game, the Baysox boarded a bus bound for Connecticut, where they will take on the cellar-dwelling New Britain Rock Cats for four games. After that series, the team returns for their final home stand of the regular season, with four games against the division-leading Altoona Curve beginning Monday, Aug. 30, at 7:05 p.m. The Baysox final regular-season home game is Thursday, Sept. 2, and features the Festa d'Italia Beer Dinner, with an Italian-themed buffet-style meal in the Diamond View Restaurant with a generous selection of beers. Tickets for the dinner are $41 per person, or $37 for season ticket holders, and can be purchased by contacting Dana DeFilippo at (301) 464-4871 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets must be ordered by 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31. Absolutely no tickets will be sold after the deadline.
Think Outside The Box with the Baysox in 2010. The Baysox 18th season as the class Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles is almost over. 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.