After Triple-A mess, 'Pig Pen' Lemp aims to tidy up with Keys

Chris Lemp's biggest break became his biggest setback.

Lemp, 23, the all-time saves leader in the Orioles' system, made the jump from the Single-A Frederick Keys to Triple-A Rochester two weeks ago during a major pitching shuffle between the Red Wings and the Orioles. The transition was anything but smooth.


On his first pitch with Rochester, Lemp gave up a game-tying home run. In his three total appearances with the Red Wings, Lemp had an ERA of 11.25.

Not typical numbers for a pitcher who, in his four previous minor-league seasons, had given up just six hits per nine innings.


"I think he went up there and tried to do too much," Frederick manager Mike O'Berry said. "He was trying to do more than what he was capable of and that got his mechanics out of sync."

The bad habits followed Lemp back to Frederick. Since his return, Lemp is 0-1 with no saves and has given up four hits and three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Lemp was 2-1 and had an ERA of 2.39 before his stint at Rochester. He also had 30 strikeouts and 10 walks in 26 innings.

O'Berry is confident that his closer, who is nicknamed "Pig Pen," can straighten out his mechanics.

"He's done a good job for me for two years, so I have faith in him," O'Berry said. "It's a matter of getting him work. He wasn't used to pitching now and then. Working consistently is a key to his command."

Red Wings tripped up

Rochester has several reasons for its International League-worst 16-29 road record. Compounding last week's two three-hour delays, the Red Wings had a three-hour layover in Pittsburgh and then did not have a bus when they arrived in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The Red Wings had to take cabs to their hotel and to the stadium. Rochester manager Marv Foley called the 12-game trip "the worst in my 21 years in baseball" and not just because of the travel.


Rochester went 2-10 on the trip, losing back-to-back games in the ninth inning and surrendering first place in the Eastern Division to the Ottawa Lynx.

The Red Wings are batting .234 on the road. At Silver Stadium, Rochester is a league-best 30-14 and batting .287.

Arubans adjusting at Bluefield

Arubans Sidney Ponson and Eugene Kingsale, both 18 years old, have started slowly for the Rookie-level Bluefield Orioles after starring last year for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Orioles.

Ponson, a hard-throwing right-hander considered one of the top pitching prospects at Bluefield, is 1-2 and has a 4.88 ERA, giving up 25 hits in 24 innings. At Gulf Coast, he was 4-3 and gave up only 24 earned runs in 73 innings (2.96 ERA).

Ponson, 6 feet 1, 200 pounds, has struggled with his control after striking out 53 and walking only 17 last season.


Kingsale, a switch-hitting outfielder, has 10 hits in his first 36 at-bats (.278). Last season, he reached base in 70 of his 186 plate appearances (.376 on-base average) and stole 15 bases.

Around the horn

Recently acquired infielder Russ McGinnis hit his first home run for Rochester on Sunday. McGinnis, who is batting .200, began the season on the Kansas City Royals' Opening Day roster. . . . With Jeff Huson on the Orioles, Greg Smith has taken over as starting shortstop, but is hitting only .167. Smith, who attended Glenelg High and lives in Sykesville, started the year in the Milwaukee Brewers' organization and played under Foley two years ago for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. . . . Outfielder Tyrone Woods is down to a season-low .260 batting average. . . . Alex Ochoa leads the Red Wings in stolen bases with 13, one more than Damon Buford. . . .

Shortstop Matt Howard had a hit in each of the first five innings in Bowie's 17-9 win over the Binghamton Mets on July 3, and went 5-for-6 for the game. Howard then slightly fractured the little finger on his left hand Saturday and is out for about six weeks. . . . Outfielder Jim Wawruck has hit five home runs in his past eight games. He never has hit more than nine homers in a season, and now has six. . . . Left-hander Matt Jarvis pitched a hitless fourth inning in Monday's Double-A All-Star game. . . .

Frederick is sending five players to the Carolina League All-Star Game: Lemp, shortstop David Lamb, third baseman Tommy Davis, pitcher Carlos Chavez and catcher Jimmy Foster. . . . Pitchers James Walker, Joe Kitchen and Joe Dawley were released Monday. Walker was last week's Carolina League Pitcher of the Week after throwing six scoreless innings in two games. . . . Right-hander Brad Crills, who was 3-0 and had a 0.90 ERA at Bluefield, was promoted to Frederick. The Keys also received outfielder Roy Hodge, who was hitting .300 for the Single-A High Desert Mavericks.