- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 17, 2002

NEW YORK Reeling from the sting of a crushing defeat the day before, not to mention the mounting injuries that came with it, the Baltimore Orioles found a way to right their ship in the most unlikely of venues last night.
Trailing the New York Yankees on the road by a run, the Orioles rallied to score twice in the eighth inning and saw their promising but woefully inexperienced bullpen shut down the American League's best team to secure a 5-4 victory that could have lasting value.
David Segui, Jeff Conine, Jay Gibbons and Tony Batista accounted for the offense, while Rick Bauer, Buddy Groom and Jorge Julio provided three innings of shutout relief to finish off the Yankees.
The Orioles appeared in dire straits after Robin Ventura broke a 3-3 tie with a solo homer off Sidney Ponson in the sixth inning. Between Baltimore's anemic offense and New York's lights-out bullpen, the one-run deficit loomed large.
But handed that lead in the eighth inning, set-up man Ramiro Mendoza was greeted with a mammoth homer by Segui on his very first pitch. Segui's first shot of the season crashed into the fourth row of the right-field upper deck and knotted the game, 4-4.
They weren't done. Conine followed Segui with a single to right, Gibbons crushed a line drive off the right-field wall that moved Conine to third, and though new reliever Steve Karsay managed to get Batista to fly out to right, Conine trotted home with ease to give the Orioles a 5-4 lead.
Now it was up to an overworked, reshuffled and inexperienced Baltimore bullpen to finish things off. Having called down to their farm system earlier in the day for 25-year-old right-hander Bauer to help ease the situation, the Orioles thrust 23-year-old Julio into the first save situation of his career clinging to a one-run lead at Yankee Stadium.
Both men responded brilliantly. Bauer pitched a scoreless inning to earn his first career victory, while Julio retired the top of the Yankee lineup including getting Derek Jeter to hit a game-ending comebacker to notch his first career save.
Ponson was two different pitchers last night: a poised, aggressive flame-thrower one moment and an uncomposed, mistake-throwing kid the next.
When Jorge Posada and Rondell White doubled down the left-field line in the second inning, Ponson appeared on the verge of collapse. He walked the next two batters, then got ahead of Alfonso Soriano 0-2 before serving up a two-run double off the right-field fence. Another walk to Nick Johnson left the bases loaded with one out for none other than Jeter and Jason Giambi a tenuous situation for Ponson if ever there was one.
So when the Baltimore hurler struck out both All-Stars looking at fastballs the one to Giambi clocked at 98 mph, it was as if some other pitcher had assumed control of Ponson's body. And this one stayed there for three more dominating innings.
Counting the Jeter and Giambi at-bats, Ponson allowed just two of 12 Yankee batters to reach base from the second-through-fifth innings, and he entered the sixth having struck out seven.
And then with one ill-advised 3-2 belt-high pitch to Ventura, the new Ponson had morphed back into his former self and left himself in position to extend his winless streak to 13 starts.
If the scene looked familiar, that's because Ventura homered off Ponson less than two weeks ago a three-run shot at Camden Yards that propelled New York to a 4-1 victory. This one broke a 3-3 tie and left the Yankee Stadium crowd of 33,721 rocking.
Having already clobbered Roger Clemens for eight runs on Opening Day, the Orioles knew they were capable of handling the Rocket, and they showed no fear in approaching the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner last night.
Batista, whose grand slam off Clemens at Camden Yards was the highlight of Baltimore's season-opening victory, went deep again last night, clubbing a 3-2 fastball to the deepest part of the ballpark in left-center in the second inning. One inning later, Melvin Mora singled, stole second and scored on a Segui single. When Gibbons later drove in Chris Singleton on a base hit, the Orioles had rallied to tie the game 3-3.
Clemens settled down after that, holding Baltimore in check through the seventh before turning the game over to the New York bullpen, which seemed reasonable enough at the time.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide