Bowie, Md. - The Baysox struggled defensively and hit 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position as they stumbled to a 8-6 loss at home against Harrisburg Wednesday afternoon. The loss drops the Baysox to 14-13 on the season and into second place, one half game behind the Senators.
For the first time in the four game series, the Baysox offense came alive, but still struggled to come through with hits when runners were in scoring position. Ten runners were left on base including three in the bottom of the first inning when shortstop Carlos Rojas struck out swinging and two in the eighth when first baseman Robbie Widlansky struck out for the second out and third baseman Brandon Waring popped out to end the inning.
"We could've been better with runners in scoring position," said Manager Gary Kendall. "We had some big hits, some home runs that kind of got us back in it, but first and third with one out, we have to put the ball in play and we failed to do that a couple times today."
Right-handed pitcher Alfredo Simon, in Bowie on a Major League Rehab Assignment, made his first start for the Baysox on Thursday. Simon pitched five innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits while striking out five.
Simon held a press conference after the game where he addressed for the first time his personal life and his legal trouble at home in the Dominican Republic through a prepared statement.
In the statement, Simon apologized to the Baltimore Orioles organization, his teammates and the fans "for the recent distraction that my personal circumstances have caused."
The Senators got on the board quickly, scoring a run on Simon in the top of the first inning. Simon struck out Chris Rahl, but Rahl reached first on a wild pitch and was then caught stealing second 1-3-6-3 with Josh Johnson batting. Simon struck out Johnson to record the second out, but then surrendered a single to left center field by Steve Lombardozzi. Tyler Moore followed with a double to left center field that would score Lombardozzi to put the Senators up 1-0.
The Baysox got the run right back in the bottom of the first with the help of second baseman Greg Miclat and Widlansky. Widlansky and Miclat combined for three hits, two runs and two RBIs on Wednesday and carried that momentum into Thursday's game. Center fielder Xavier Avery flied out to start the inning and then Miclat reached second on a fielding error by left fielder Archie Gilbert. Widansky brought Miclat home with a double to center field that tied the game at one. Starting pitcher Shairon Martis eventually walked the bases loaded, but then struck out Rojas to end the inning before the Baysox could do any more damage.
Waring gave the Baysox their first lead of the game when he launched a solo home run to right field on a 1-2 pitch to lead off the bottom of the third inning, but Harrisburg took the lead right back in the top of the fourth. Simon started the inning by hitting Tyler Moore with a pitch before striking out Jesus Valdez. Bill Rhinehart then reached first on a fielder's choice, but Moore also reached second safely on the play on a throwing error by Widlansky. With Devin Ivany batting, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third and a single by Ivany drove both runs home to put the Senators back in the lead 3-2.
The Senators added one more run in the fifth inning, the last inning Simon pitched, when Gilbert hit a lead off home run to left field on a 2-1 pitch. The home run was the second to come from the ninth spot in the Harrisburg batting lineup during the series. Waring got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning when he doubled to center field to lead off the inning and was driven in when catcher Steve Lerud hit his own double to center field. After trading runs in the fifth inning, the Baysox trailed 4-3.
"My pitches were good like my slider, my four [seam fastball], my splitter," Simon said during the press conference. "My command for my pitches was very nice. I am working hard to get ready as soon as I can to get to Baltimore. When I got out I just got to do my thing, I got to do my job everywhere that I pitch."
After a scoreless sixth inning, a combined five runs were scored by the two teams in the seventh inning. With one out in the top of the frame, right-handed pitcher Raul Rivero, who replaced Simon in the sixth, walked the bases loaded before striking out Lombardozzi. Moore then singled through the hole at shortstop to drive in two runs and put the Senators up 6-3. Right-handed relief pitcher Cole McCurry came on to replace Rivero and struck out Valdez to end the inning.
The Baysox would battle back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh thanks to another big hit by Lerud. Widlansky hit a lead off double to right field and with one out right fielder Ronnie Welty was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base. Lerud took the opportunity to hit a three-run home run to right field on a 0-1 pitch to tie the game at six.
"I'm just trying to put good at bats together, do what I can," Lerud said. "I know I'm the second catcher on this team and that's my main focus, but if I can put some good at bats together then so be it."
Unfortunately, after a scoreless eighth inning, the Senators got two runs off of right-handed reliever Brandon Cooney to take the lead and seal the game. With two out and a runner on second, Moore tripled to right field to score Lombardozzi and give the lead back to the Senators, who would tack on one more when Moore scored on a wild pitch, the second of the inning by Cooney.
After playing solid defense throughout the homestand, Bowie faltered in the final game against Harrisburg. The team committed one error and allowed one unearned run, but beyond that, struggled to make all the plays needed to protect a lead and win a game.
"We had been playing pretty good defense and then just kind of had a big letdown today - we kind of regressed a little bit," said Manager Gary Kendall. "That happens in the Minor Leagues, but it seems like there was a cluster of them today and they were magnified in a tight ball game."
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Friday, the Baysox will be in Erie, beginning a three-game series with a 7:05 p.m. game that features reigning Eastern League Pitcher of the Week Zach Clark against left-handed pitcher Casey Crosby.
The Baysox will be on the road May 6-8, but return home for a seven game home stand on Monday, May 9. For more information on Baysox promotions and theme nights, visit www.baysox.com.
Baysox Baseball - We'll Knock Your 'Sox Off. The Baysox 19th season as the class Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles is underway. Parking is free at every Baysox home game and tickets are now available at www.baysox.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.