In terms of time and distance, the plane ride from Rochester, N.Y., to Baltimore wasn't long for Jamie Moyer. But in baseball time and distance, Moyer came a long way yesterday.
Moyer pitched from a major-league mound for the first time in two years, getting the start in the Orioles' 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. And though he was denied his first win in nearly three years, Moyer proclaimed his start a limited success.
"Other than the first inning, I thought it went OK," Moyer said. "They hit the ball, and the defense made some big plays. I liked the way I threw. I started feeling more comfortable as the game went along."
The first inning proved Moyer's downfall, as the Indians, on two singles to left, a bunt single and a ground out, put two runs on the Camden Yards scoreboard.
Thanks to a nonexistent offense, Moyer, who did not allow another run the rest of his 7 1/3 -inning stint, was tagged with the loss.
"Things started to fall in place and I felt after the first inning that I started getting ahead of hitters," said Moyer. "They didn't hit the ball that hard, but they didn't need to hit the ball that hard in the first inning. I could have helped myself, but it was a tough game to lose."
Catcher Jeff Tackett said: "Jamie Moyer pitched a great game today. That first inning, I don't think they hit the ball hard. A seeing-eye single, a bunt for a base hit and Albert Belle hit his [single] off the end [of the bat]. He had command of all four pitches and he threw them all for strikes. He works fast, too, and anytime you do that, you've always got your infielders behind you. He just needs to do what he did today. If he keeps doing that, he'll be fine.
Moyer, a left-hander whose career record spanning four years with the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals was 34-54, , was signed to a minor-league contract in the off-season and made a strong bid to make the parent club in spring training.
However, Moyer was assigned to Triple-A Rochester with the understanding that if he pitched well, he might be called up.
"We tell guys when we send them out to do the job and they'll get a shot," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "We did the same thing with [Jack] Voigt."
Moyer's 6-0 record and 1.67 ERA -- the best marks in the International League -- made the initial case for the call-up, but Orioles starter Arthur Rhodes' knee injury last week sealed the deal.
"I happened to be doing well, but there are other guys down there doing well, too," said Moyer. "I wasn't sitting in Rochester saying I expected to come. That's not my decision. My decision is to go out and hopefully keep the club in the game."
From his manager's standpoint, Moyer accomplished his mission, though Oates wouldn't commit to him beyond the immediate need.
Oates, who coached Moyer for two years in Chicago, said: "That's what you get from Jamie. He's a control-type pitcher. He gave up some hits , but nothing was really hit hard. He depends a lot on his defense. He kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance to win."
Moyer had to wait by the phone Wednesday night to see if the Orioles would need his services, with the threat of a rainout possibly backing up the rotation.
But, given the result and his goal, the wait seemed worth it for Moyer.
"If you have a couple of days to think about it, you can drive yourself bonkers trying to figure everything out," he said. "I'm happy with any situation. I like to pitch and that's what it comes down to."