Struggling Baez is shaky again in mop-up role

The Baltimore Sun

The situation screamed for a struggling reliever, and Orioles right-hander Danys Baez heeded the call.

And struggled a little more.

Finally, the Orioles had a big lead last night, the kind that allowed manager Sam Perlozzo to use Baez - his former setup man. And Baez got the first two outs in the ninth, with first baseman Chris Gomez making a diving stop along the line to begin the inning.

What appeared to be a stress-free appearance grew more tense, however, when Baez walked two batters and allowed a bloop single to Shannon Stewart, the ball barely clearing Gomez's head.

Once again, Baez had surrendered a run, the sixth time it has happened in his past seven outings. The crowd grew more agitated with every base runner, but Baez retired Nick Swisher on a pop-up to complete an 8-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

"He was a little better," Perlozzo said. "After the first two outs, I think he got in a hurry to get the third one and was trying to overthrow the ball instead of pitching, and then he lost command. When he decided he needed to throw a good pitch, he would.

"We need to keep getting him out there. We need him."

Baez's velocity was good. His fastball registered 95 mph on the ballpark's radar gun.

Now he's waiting for the results to improve.

"I feel great," he said. "You guys saw the inning. I'm not very lucky right now. I've been working on my mechanics and my sinker is working a lot better now. When I was throwing in the bullpen, I had a lot more command of my pitches."

Bynum goes all out

Freddie Bynum and Mark Ellis were teammates on the Oakland Athletics, so they enjoyed getting reacquainted on the field during batting practice.

It probably was more enjoyable for Ellis than their reunion at second base during Friday's game.

Pinch running in the ninth inning, Bynum broke up a potential double play with a vicious slide into Ellis, who went airborne and landed on his stomach. Bynum received a huge ovation.

"I knew what I had to do," he said. "That's all I really care about. My job was to break up the double play and keep the game going, and that's what I did. Everybody's supposed to play hard."

Bynum made sure there were no hard feelings by gesturing to Ellis from the dugout.

Perlozzo appreciated the effort.

"That's the name of the game. It gave us another shot," he said. "He's been playing hard. He does his work. He goes out, he doesn't say anything, he takes balls at about six positions. And when he gets his chance, he's playing."

At-bats have been scarce for Bynum. He's pinch hit three times since starting in center field April 16-18 while Corey Patterson was on the bereavement list.

Gomez sees rare action

Chris Gomez usually takes a seat on the same bench as Bynum, but he started last night for the first time since May 2, and for only the 10th time in 49 games.

Gomez played first base, providing another right- handed bat against Oakland left-hander Joe Kennedy.

"As I always say, you just do the work and physically stay strong and as game-ready as possible," he said.

"It's just a mental thing. Some guys take a week or two off and bury themselves right out of the gate. I try not to do that."

Gomez was used as a defensive replacement at first base Wednesday and also stayed there after walking as a pinch hitter May 18.

"Going in for defense doesn't do a player any good,"

he said. "But hey, I'm ready when I'm called upon."

Around the horn

Reliever Sendy Rleal, who went on the disabled list in spring training with a sore elbow, made his first rehabilitation appearance at Single-A Frederick on Friday night and allowed three hits - including a homer - in one inning. ... Third baseman Bill Rowell, last year's top draft pick, hit his first home run at Single-A Delmarva on Friday night. Rowell joined the Shorebirds on Wednesday after staying back at extended spring training because of a strained oblique muscle.

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