HAGERSTOWN — ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Rochester Red Wings pitcher Chris Myers had retired the first nine batters he faced but suddenly he walked the bases full in the fourth inning against the Nashville Sounds.
The Chris Myers of the early part of the season probably would have collapsed. But last night, Myers struck out the next three batters to escape the inning without damage and go on to an 11-1 victory.
"Early in the season, I had one good game, then one bad game. I knew I had to start being consistent," Myers said before the start of the Wings road trip. The 22-year-old lefthander, who was the Orioles' first-round pick in the June 1987 draft, had two consecutive wins before last night's game, pitching through the eighth inning each time.
"He's stifled Syracuse, which is a good-hitting team," said Wings manager Greg Biagini. "He's shown he can pitch here as long as he uses his pitches. Now he has to know that each time he goes out."
Myers said he has improved his changeup working with Wings pitching coach Dick Bosman. The change offsets his fastball, which is far from overpowering.
"And I'm working on a cut fastball and a slider," he said. "I'm getting smarter from experience. Now, it's knowing how to pitch, seeing for myself. I was walking a lot of people. You can't do that the way I pitch. I'd pick at the corners. I didn't want to give a strike. I didn't want to get hit hard. I went out there thinking about my ERA. Now I just try to throw strikes."
Myers, who missed three months in 1988 with a sore shoulder, does exercises to maintain his rotator cuff. He said he is pitching free of pain and apparently he has been successful in building up his confidence.
"I'll spend the year here, but I'd like to get called up in September, unless they need me before then," said Myers, 4-3 after last night's win. "I want to get some time up there this year."
Israel Sanchez, a free agent out of the Kansas City Royals' organization, has become the surprise of the Wings' pitching staff. The 27-year-old lefthander has won two consecutive games since replacing Roy Smith, promoted to the Orioles.
With his win on a seven-hitter against the Nashville Sounds Tuesday, Sanchez improved his record to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.80 in 45 innings to lead the International League.
Sanchez, a native of Cuba who grew up in Chicago, missed most of the 1989 season and part of 1990 with elbow problems. He first had part of a bone spur removed. The remainder of the spur tore a ligament in his elbow, forcing him to have reconstructive surgery similar to Tommy John's. The Royals dropped him from the 40-man roster. The Orioles signed him in February.
Although he doesn't throw hard, he has a good sinker and effective curves that he throws at a variety of speeds.
Pitcher Mike Mussina recorded his fourth win with a solid four-strikeout performance against the Louisville Redbirds Sunday. After the game, Louisville manager Mark DeJohn said Mussina is ready to be promoted to the major leagues.
Third baseman Leo Gomez has hit six home runs in the last 12 games. One of his home runs against the Sounds hit the scoreboard about 450 feet from home plate in Nashville, according to the Wings radio play-by-play man, Josh Lewin.
It will be with some trepidation that the fifth-place Suns embark on a 10-game road trip tomorrow that will take them to Albany and Harrisburg.
The Suns have lost 17 of their last 21 road games and have a sorry overall 10-19 away record. The good news is that Hagerstown will play 45 of its final 76 games in friendly Municipal Stadium.
First baseman Ken Shamburg has swung a .357 bat during an 11-game hitting streak. With 19 doubles, he is on pace to accumulate 50, four shy of the league record set in 1924. According to the league's statistics bureau, no one has had more than 35 doubles in 12 years.
Catcher-DH Doug Flowers, called up from Kane County of the Class A Midwest League Saturday, banged a solo homer in his third at-bat the next day to give the Keys a last-inning 2-1 win at Durham, N.C.
Pitcher Mark Carper, The Evening Sun's 1986 Prep Athlete of the Year out of Atholton High, has been hampered by injuries. He has a knee injury and spent two weeks on the disabled list with a bum shoulder. He has a 1-3 record and a 5.06 ERA.
When the Keys edged Winston-Salem, 8-6, in 14 innings Tuesday, it was their first extra-inning victory of the season after five reversals.
Pitcher Chuck Ricco appears to be turning it around. After
finishing with a 7-12 record with Frederick last year, he is 6-3 with a 3.00 ERA.