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Bowie's Gamboa flirts with no-hitter

Orioles knuckleballer allows infield single in eighth inning
June 23, 2013

Right-handed Orioles prospect Eddie Gamboa isn't the type of pitcher to wish he did things differently. But on Sunday, there was one pitch, one moment on which he probably wanted a mulligan.

Gamboa allowed an infield single and three walks while striking out seven batters over 7 1/3 innings as the Double-A Bowie Baysox one-hit the Altoona Curve in a 1-0 win.

"[The knuckleball] was great," said Gamboa, who threw that pitch about 60 percent of the time. "It feels like it gets better and better everyday. Sometimes you fall back, but you are always trying something new with it.

"I have only been throwing it since March so it's very frustrating, but at times it can pay off when things go well. The defense behind me made great plays and I was hoping for the best."

The lone hit came with one out in the eighth inning when Justin Howard lined Gamboa's pitch toward the mound. The ball hit Gamboa's leg and richocheted toward first base, giving Howard anough time to beat out the hit before Gamboa could cover the bag.

The Baysox have not thrown a no-hitter since Radhames Liz struck out eight batters in a nine-inning no-no against Harrisburg on June 1, 2007.

"It was a 3-1 pitch," Gamboa said of the hit. "If the no-hitter had meant that much to me, I would have thrown a knuckleball. I don't want to throw a no-hitter, I want a perfect game. I had three walks already, so it wasn't that big of a deal.

"My mentality was to get outs, so I went right after him. It was a 3-1 fastball that he hit right back up the middle off my [right thigh]. When I realized [Seth Loman] backhanded it, I limped over to first base, but it was too late. He was fast down the line."

Gamboa (3-5) threw 59 of 108 pitches for strikes and induced 10 ground-ball outs. He also picked off two Altoona hitters and his catcher [Luis Martinez] threw out a would-be base-stealer.

"He was terrific," Bowie manager Gary Kendall said of Gamboa. "He had a lot of composure, mixed in his knuckleball and he had everything working for him. I really thought he had a good advantage because this was the first time Altoona has come here and faced a knuckleballer. The way he was able to cut the ball and mix things in kept them out of gear a little bit."

The 29-year-old right-hander entered Sunday's start with a 2-5 record and a 4.12 ERA in 13 Eastern League starts. He allowed six runs over seven innings in his most recent start against Harrisburg on Tuesday, after spinning seven scoreless frames in Reading on June 12.

Selected by the Orioles in the 21st round of the 2008 Draft, Gamboa faced the minimum the first time through the lineup before working around two free passes and an error in the fourth. He then retired seven consecutive batters before allowing the base hit to Howard with one out in the eighth.

"I felt great, it was good up there," Gamboa said. "A lot of balls were hit hard, but fortunately they were hit at people and the defense did a great job of making plays behind me."

Zech Zinicola retired both batters he faced in relief of Gamboa and Marcel Prado set down the side in order in the ninth for his fifth save of the season.

Bowie third baseman and leadoff hitter Ty Kelly plated the only run of the game with a two-out RBI single to left field in the sixth.

Altoona's David Bromberg (3-7) took the loss, allowing a run on five hits and six walks while striking out seven batters over 5 2/3 innings.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB.