Stirrups were out. Tommy Taylor was in. It proved a fashionable combination for the Bowie Baysox at Memorial Stadium yesterday.
With Taylor making his first start of the season and many of the players showing what Tim Holland called "the Wally Moon look," the Baysox won an important game, beating Canton-Akron, 5-3, before 4,508 sun-drenched fans.
The victory kept Bowie in second place in the Eastern League just as the runaway leaders, the Harrisburg Senators, are due in town for a four-game series.
Canton-Akron (35-32) had closed to a half-game of the injury-plagued Baysox by winning the first two games of the series.
"You never want to get swept and especially not in that situation by Canton, a team we're going head up against," said reliever Chuck Ricci, who saved Taylor's win with two shutout innings.
"It was kind of a big one," said Taylor (3-3). "They were right behind us and we wanted to stay in second. We didn't need to be passed."
"I think this game helped bring the guys back to where they were. It was a stabilizer," said manager Don Buford. "The stirrup thing showed the guys were trying to do something together to break the losing."
The no-stirrup look was "just something new," said Holland. "We needed a little change. Wally [Orioles' minor-league hitting coordinator] still has his old pants from when he played. So we dedicated it to him."
Taylor probably had a little more to do with the reversal than the fashion trend.
The right-hander allowed three runs, two earned, in seven innings, his longest outing of the season.
Canton-Akron scored its two earned runs in the seventh inning with only one ball hit hard -- a line shot by Mike Sarbaugh that Bowie third baseman Edgar Alfonzo couldn't handle. The rally was composed of that hit, a bunt single, two wild pitches and a run-scoring ground out.
Otherwise, Taylor permitted just two runners as far as second base and the Indians were aided by a Baysox error when they scored their first run. Canton-Akron had no extra-base hits.
"Tommy was outstanding," said Buford. "He threw all the pitches he's been working on. We pulled him after 89 [pitches] because we're thin in the bullpen. Now he can work there after a couple days' off."
Taylor was the Orioles' second pick in the second round of the 1989 draft. Starting is nothing new. He did it 14 times for the Frederick Keys last summer before being assigned to relief in July.
The closest thing he had to a start this season was at Binghamton on June 2 when he relieved an injured Terry Farrar after one inning and allowed only one hit for the next five. The Baysox won, 9-7.
"Coming out of the 'pen you think one hitter at a time," said Taylor. "That's what I tried to do today. I threw my cutter [cut fastball] that I started working on a few days ago."
Ricci had to survive a two-on, one-out uprising in the ninth when the Indians sent Manny Ramirez, the league's leading hitter, up as pinch hitter. Ramirez struck out.
"I had been trying to go away, away, away," said Ricci. "That one went straight down over the inner half and it fooled him. I wish I could say that's what I was trying to do, but it wasn't."
It was just the kind of break the Baysox (35-29) haven't been getting.
Brad Tyler set the offensive tone by leading off the bottom of the first with a triple against Randy Veres (0-1), a one-time major-leaguer with Milwaukee.
The Baysox went on to score twice in that inning and added three more in the third after squandering a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the second.
The final three runs scored when Holland singled into the left-field corner with the bases loaded and Julio Pequero fumbled the ball to allow the third runner home.
Despite trailing Harrisburg by 14 games, Buford said, "We have to win as much as we can and stay in the chase."