Baltimore Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez allowed two runners he inherited from Jason Gurka (0-1, 5.68) to score and Staten Island to take a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the sixth en route to a 10-8 Yankees (5-6) victory over Aberdeen (5-7) Tuesday night at Ripken Stadium.
Gonzalez came on with one out and runners on runners on first and second. He promptly gave up a double to second baseman Casey Stevenson that scored first baseman Kevin Mahoney from third base and gave Staten Island a 6-5 lead. Gonzalez got designated hitter Shane Brown to groundout to third base, but it also allowed centerfielder Isaiah Brown to score and put the Yankee lead at 7-5.
“Come up with some runners on, I gotta get those guys obviously,” Gonzalez said. “You’re getting yourself ready and prepared to do it in the big leagues, but the good thing is that my arm felt better today than it did in the last outing, so it’s definitely progress and I’m definitely upbeat about that.”
Gonzalez plans to pitch in Double-A Bowie before rejoining the Orioles sometime around July 2. As for his return to the major leagues, Gonzalez has plans for himself. “Do what I do,” he said. “Do what I do. That’s my thing, that’s what they went out and signed me for is to come in and dominate. This is a road I have to go through, it’s not just a light switch that you turn off and on so I gotta keep going through the process and hope that my shoulder comes through.”
While Orioles manager Juan Samuel has yet to pencil in Gonzalez as the closer upon his return, Gonzalez feels that he will succeed no matter his role. “I’m expecting to go out there and do what I do,” Gonzalez said. “Everything else will pan out by itself. I go out there and do me and there shouldn’t be a problem. I got signed to be a closer. But I totally understand when you’re going out there and not getting it done.”
Gonzalez finished his appearance in the top of the seventh, striking out leftfielder Michael Ferraro before giving up a double to catcher Nick McCoy. Shortstop Jose Mojica singled to center, but centerfielder Trent Mummey made a nice play on the ball and gunned McCoy out at the plate to save a run. Gonzalez was then removed for lefthander Will Startup who got Mahoney to fly out to the warning track in right field to end the inning.
Mummey’s play saved Aberdeen from what could have been a big inning for Staten Island. “I take a lot of pride in [defense] if you look at college,” he said. “Every day I like to come out and get my reads off of the hitters in BP and just work on things.”
Aberdeen cut the lead in half in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Mummey scored on a passed ball off the arm of reliever Bryant Cotton.
“The guys was throwing a lot of sliders and I was trying to get a good read on the ball,” Mummey said. “He threw one in the dirt and the catcher didn’t block it out well and it scooted past him. I just got a good read on it and was able to get home in time. I was trying to score a run right there and let the guy behind me get on third base with less than one out where we could get two easy runs with less than one out.”
Staten Island put the game out of reach in the top of the ninth when they scored three runs off of IronBirds reliever Brian Parker. Rightfielder Kevin De Leon reached on a grounder that shortstop Michael Rooney mishandled and advanced to second after Ferraro grounded into a fielder’s choice. After McCoy was hit by a pitch and Mojica singled to center to load the bases, Mahoney doubled to score De Leon and McCoy and give Staten Island a 9-6 lead. Then third baseman Luis Parache lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Mojica and put the Yankees ahead 10-6.
The IronBirds attempted yet another late-inning rally, but were only able to cut the score to its final 10-8. Second baseman Auburn Donaldson led off the inning with a walk. After Mummey struck out, shortstop Michael Rooney singled to right and advanced to second after De Leon bobbled the ball, putting Donaldson on third. A single to center field by leftfielder Kipp Schutz scored Donaldson and sent Rooney to third, putting the score at 10-7. Farnham let a pitch get away from him and Rooney scored to make it 10-8. But closer Chase Whitely got designated hitter David Anderson to strike out for the fourth time in the game and third baseman Adam Gaylord to strike out as well to earn his fourth save of the season.
“We got our leadoff guy and rolled our lineup over and had a pretty good feel about what was happening, but we just couldn’t get the job done,” manager Gary Kendall said.
Schutz continued his torrid hitting early in the first inning, batting in the first IronBirds run off Staten Island starter Mike Gipson. Mummey led off the game with a sharp single to right field before a bunt single by Rooney put runners on first and second. Schutz then lined an offering up the middle to score Mummey and advance Rooney to third.
After Anderson recorded his fourth walk of the series to load the bases, third baseman Adam Gaylord struck out on three pitches for Gipson’s first out of the inning. But designated hitter Michael Flacco delivered for Aberdeen, sending a two-strike pitch into left field to score Rooney and Schutz and spot Aberdeen starter Blake Mechaw a 3-0 lead. Gipson ended the threat by striking out catcher Austin Goolsby and rightfielder Austin Knight to end the inning.
Staten Island answered right back in the top of the second. Mechaw struck out De Leon to strike out to begin the inning before Ferraro singled to center for Staten Island’s first hit of the game. After singles by McCoy and Mojica to load the bases, Mahoney lofted a flyball to centerfield that scored Ferraro. Mechaw got Parache to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
However, Staten Island kept the pressure on Mechaw in the top of the third, scoring two runs to tie the game at 3-3. Stevenson got on base after being hit by a Mechaw offering and advanced to second when Brown singled. During De Leon’s subsequent at-bat, Staten Island executed a flawless hit-and-run that saw both Stevenson and Brown score and De Leon end up on second with a double.
Schutz and Flacco continued to key the offense in the bottom of the third, this time against reliever Richard Martinez, to take the lead back for the IronBirds. Schutz led off the inning and reached on an error by Mahoney. Anderson struck out and Gaylord advanced Schutz to second on a fielder’s choice. With Flacco at the bat, Schutz advanced to third on a passed ball where the designated hitter was able to single him home on a hit to center to give the IronBirds a 4-3 lead.
Flacco was Aberdeen’s most successful hitter during the game, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. He raised his batting average to .286. “It was nice to come up with some guys on the bases and get some hits, get us some runs,” he said. “Personally it felt good just to put the team up there, but both teams did a good job of getting guys on and scoring guys tonight. Unfortunately they just had more than us.”
Staten Island continued the seesaw in the top of the fourth, scoring two runs off lefthander Jason Gurka who had relieved Mechaw. Mahoney led off the inning with a deep home run to straightaway centerfield to tie the game. Parache drew a walk and then advanced to third on an Isaiah Brown single to right field. A sacrifice fly by Stevenson sent Parache home and gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead.
Aberdeen was able to draw even in the bottom of the fourth. Goolsby led off before Knight doubled Goolsby to third. A groundout by second baseman Auburn Donaldson to second scored Goolsby and tied the game up at 5 apiece.
Neither starting pitcher was able to go deep into the game. Gipson lasted two innings, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk, but five of the six outs he recorded were via strikeout. Richard Martinez (2-0, 1.13) earned the win for Staten Island, going four innings and allowing two runs on three hits while striking out four.
Mahoney was Staten Island’s top performer, going 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBIs, and two runs scored.
Mechaw did not fare much better, going three innings. Mechaw’s body of work included three runs on five hits, two strikeouts, and a walk.
“We pitched below average,” Kendall said. “Too many walks, too many hit batsmen.”
Wednesday night Aberdeen closes out the Staten Island series as lefthander Justin Anderson (1-0, 2.19) takes the mound against Michael O’Brien (2-0, 0.69). After winning on Opening Day against Hudson Valley on June 18, Anderson received a no decision against Staten Island on June 24. In that game against the Yankees that the IronBirds won 8-5, Anderson threw 6.1 innings and gave up two runs on five hits while walking and striking out three. On June 25, O’Brien defeated the IronBirds 4-1, allowing the lone run on seven hits scattered over six innings. That run is the only earned run O’Brien has allowed this year. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium.
An injury note for the IronBirds: Tyler Kolodny, a middle-of-the-order hitter for the first week of the season has missed the last three games due to a wrist injury. Kendall is trying to get Kolodny rest and get him rest for the rest of the season. “Certainly he’s a productive player for us so I would have liked to have penciled him in tonight,” Kendall said.