Grand Phillies Slam Baysox
BOWIE, Md. - The Bowie Baysox lost to the Reading Phillies 6-4 Thursday night at Prince George's Stadium with a third-inning grand slam by Reading providing the winning margin. The Baysox drop to 34-32 on the season, but remain in second place in the Eastern League's Western Division, eight games behind league leaders Altoona.
Baysox starting pitcher Steve Johnson had a very frustrating night, with five walks spoiling the occasion of his 500th career strikeout. He finished with six runs, all earned, off five hits through 5.0 innings.
"[I] walked five guys. They said from behind that I was looking good... at least my fastball looked like it had something on it. I felt good, my arm felt good, but I got behind. I walked too many guys and I got behind guys that you can't get behind.
"I felt I had the same stuff [as in more successful starts], I just don't get it," he added. "I'm trying to think, 'What can I do?' Right now, it's not coming to me. I've got to figure something out, because I walked five guys I don't know, four times this year so far? I've never done that before in my career. Something is going on, and I just need to figure it out."
Reading took the lead in the second inning after Johnson hit first baseman Tagg Bozied and walked left fielder Kevin Mahar to put two aboard with one out. Bozied scored from second on third baseman Cody Overbeck's line drive single to center field to open a 1-0 lead.
Johnson worked himself into much deeper trouble in the third inning when he walked outfielder Quintin Berry and catcher Tuffy Gosewisch with one out and gave up a line drive single to Domonic Brown that loaded the bases. He retired Bozied on a fly ball to right field that put two away, but designated hitter Matt Rizzotti sent his 0-1 pitch over the right field wall for the first grand slam against the Baysox in 2010. Johnson got out of the inning with his fourth strikeout of the night, but the damage had been done, with the Baysox trailing 5-0.
"[Johnson has] had a couple of starts where he's given up some home runs, but those have been solo home runs," said Baysox Pitching Coach Kennie Steenstra. "Those don't hurt you as much. It's when you're walking people in front of them and having a high pitch count, that's when those things catch up with you. You're going to have some home runs with the style of pitcher that he is. He's kind of a high fastball pitcher right now. Especially when you're playing in some of the smaller ballparks, it's going to come back and get you. You've just got to limit the amount of baserunners that are on there before those home runs."
Bowie got right back into the game in the bottom half of the third, as right fielder Jonathan Tucker and shortstop Carlos Rojas hit singles to open the frame. Tucker scored when center fielder Danny Figueroa hit a hard grounder that sneaked into left field through the shortstop's legs for a fielding error. Second baseman Ryan Adams grounded into a double play that plated Rojas, and Tyler Henson launched a solo home run to right field on the first pitch, trimming the deficit to 5-3.
"I'm just sticking to my plans when I go to the plate," Henson said. "Before, pitch-by-pitch [I] tried to change a little bit when I shouldn't. Then they throw the pitch I'm setting on and I'm taking 'em. Now I'm sticking to one pitch every at-bat and trying to get that pitch and lately I have and I've had some good success."
Brown hit a home run to lead off the fifth inning in both of the first two games of the series and hurt the Baysox again in the fifth inning, drawing a walk before stealing second base. From there, he scored easily on Bozied's double to right field that put the Baysox in a three-run hole.
Towering right-hander Pat Egan came on in the sixth inning to relieve Johnson and was perfect through three innings, extending his shutout streak to an impressive 12.0 innings and dropping his ERA to 1.50. Carrying over from his last appearance, at Harrisburg on June 13, he generated 10 groundouts without giving up a hit or a fly out.
"I wouldn't call [the season I'm having] standard by any means, but I try and take each outing and concentrate on that," Egan said. "No matter what position I get put in, whether we are behind, I say to myself, 'Alright, we've got to keep us here so we have a chance to go ahead.' Or if we come in with the lead got to come in and shut them down. Whatever it is, I just try to get in the right mindset to pretty much get the job done, whatever it has to be."
Catcher Caleb Joseph drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth inning and moved to second on a Brandon Waring groundout to second base. Tucker singled to center field to plate Joseph. Down two runs, Manager Brad Komminsk sent Steve Lerud to pinch hit for Rojas, with Lerud representing the tying run. He fell short, hitting a ground ball to second base for an easy out as the Baysox lost 6-4.
The club returns to action on Friday at 7:05 p.m., as they open a three-game series against the Harrisburg Senators, whom they swept in three games at Harrisburg from June 11-13. Friday and Saturday's games against Harrisburg will feature the Baysox signature fireworks celebration.
On Sunday, Father's Day, families have the opportunity to play catch on the outfield and meet the Baysox players and coaches in a free autograph session before the game from 12:30-1:15 p.m. Sunday's game also gives fans ages 18 and up a chance to win a big screen TV courtesy of Best Buy of Bowie in the Miss Utility Diamond Dig.
The club holds its ninth annual Tribute to the Negro Leagues on Saturday with former Negro League players available for autographs and pre-game ceremonies honoring the players who endured the color barrier in baseball.
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