Throwing the first pitch for a strike sounds so simple, but for Anthony Telford, it has been difficult to do consistently this season.
"It seems that what gets people out when you're 0-1 gets hit when you're 1-0," Telford said.
Telford pitched what may have been his best game this season -- a 7-2, complete-game victory over Tidewater last week, allowing two unearned runs.
"He was ahead, and all his pitches were down in the zone," manager Greg Biagini said.
In 17 previous starts, Telford had struggled to a 7-8 record (with four-game and three-game losing streaks) and 4.32 ERA in large part because he couldn't stay ahead of the batters. Last season, Telford breezed through Class A Frederick and Class AA Hagerstown with a 14-4 record and 1.86 ERA before arriving with the Orioles, where he went 3-3 with a 4.95 ERA.
"It all just goes to falling behind," right-hander Telford said. "I've had the same idea how to pitch since coming out of college. It comes down to mechanical things. It all stems from not hitting spots right away."
* Dave Johnson's scheduled start last night bumped Chris Myers from what would have been his second start in more than two weeks. The 24-year-old left-hander, the Orioles' No. 1 selection in the 1987 draft, received his first bump when Jose Mesa came down from the Orioles.
Aside from Johnson, who is continuing his rehabilitation from an injured groin muscle, the Red Wings have six starters and five relievers. The positions of Mesa, Telford, Israel Sanchez and Mike Mussina are assured, leaving Myers and Ozzie Peraza to compete for the final spot. Biagini had said he would reorganize his rotation and drop a pitcher after the All-Star break, but hadn't made a move by yesterday. "Myers and Peraza will fit in where we fit them in," he said.
* MISCELLANEOUS: IF Steve Jeltz is expected to come off the DL this weekend, bringing the Red Wings back to their 23-man roster limit. Jeltz has been out since June 25 because of an injured shoulder. . . . The Red Wings called up SS Ricky Gutierrez to replace Shane Turner, who was promoted yesterday morning.
For the first time in three Class AA seasons, the Suns are looking like a team that won't have to struggle to make the Eastern League playoffs.
They started July with an 11-2 record, their best in any month since joining the league, held a 5 1/2 -game lead in the battle for the fourth playoff spot, were only 4 1/2 games off the league lead and were looking forward to 20 of their final 25 games at home, where they are 30-16.
Hagerstown barely missed postseason play in its first two years. But with a .314 July batting average and eight victories in their last nine one-run games, the Suns are sitting in good position if they continue to hit.
Entering last night, they had won five in a row to go nine games over .500, their best Class AA record.
* MISCELLANEOUS: Dave Johnson finished his rehabilitation with the Suns with a 3-0 record. He pitched 18 innings, allowing 13 hits and only 2 earned runs (1.00 ERA). Johnson is continuing his recovery at Rochester. . . . Ken Shamburg broke Scott Meadows' club record with his 30th double Tuesday night. The team has at least 1 double in 18 consecutive games.
Seven Keys were selected to the Northern Division squad for the Carolina League All-Star Game, which will be played at Grove Stadium for the first time Wednesday.
One, catcher Cesar Devares, will not play because of a leg injury, but his backup is fellow Key Ed Horowitz, who is expected to recover from an ailing wrist in time to make the starting lineup.
Shortstop Manny Alexander, first baseman Mel Wearing and bTC designated hitter Sergio Cairo also were picked by the players, coaches, front-office personnel and media to start. Alexander leads the league with 33 stolen bases and ranks highly in four other offensive categories.
Also on the squad, to be managed by Prince William's Mike Hart, are pitcher Kip Yaughn and second baseman Tony Beasley.
General admission tickets are available at $5 for the 7:05 p.m. contest which matches players from the four teams in each division.
* MISCELLANEOUS: The 2-day all-star activities will include an Eddie Rabbitt concert and fireworks Tuesday night at Grove Stadium. . . . With Morganna and Prince William, the first-half division champion, on hand, the Keys drew a franchise record 8,712 fans last Saturday night. They are averaging 4,184, second in Class A baseball to the Durham Bulls. . . . Devares, Horowitz and P Shane Hale are on the disabled list. With 2 catchers ailing, the Orioles' 19th round draftee, Troy Tallman, was added from Kane County. . . . Beasley had a game-winning walk and a game-tying, 2-run single in consecutive sudden-death appearances against Mark Olhms of the Cannons, the league's top reliever.