Rare win includes even rarer save

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Julio's save is O's first since Aug. 23

Foss feted

Notebook

April 11, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Forty-four games.

That's how long the Orioles had gone without a save until Jorge Julio finally recorded one yesterday in their 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The streak dates to Aug. 23. It lasted through the Orioles' horrendous 4-32 stretch to close last season and through their first eight games of this year.

B.J. Ryan actually recorded the save in that Aug. 23 victory over Toronto.

Julio, who converted 25 of 31 save opportunities last season, didn't have a save chance after Aug. 15 last season and blew his first two opportunities this year.

No team had gone 44 games without a save since the Boston Red Sox did it between July 1 and Aug. 19, 1987.

The Orioles went 57 games without a save in 1975, but times were different then for Jim Palmer and Co. That stretch included 20 complete-game victories.

When Julio finally broke the streak yesterday, it didn't come easy.

In all three of his save chances this year, he has been asked to protect a one-run lead. This time, with two outs, Devil Rays pinch hitter Ben Grieve singled.

Damian Rolls came in to pinch run and stole second base, advancing to third when catcher Geronimo Gil's throw bounced into center field. But after throwing nothing but fastballs the whole inning, Julio struck out pinch hitter Javier Valentin with a slider.

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove and pitching coach Mark Wiley talked to Julio about the importance of relying more on his fastball. So after a steady stream of 96-mph heaters, Julio threw his only slider at 85 mph, and Valentin swung right through it with the tying run standing 90 feet away.

"That last one was big league," Gil said.

Johnson vs. Martinez

Jason Johnson was brilliant in his first start, holding the Red Sox to one hit over 6 1/3 innings. He outpitched Pedro Martinez, who allowed one run on four hits over eight innings.

So what did Johnson get for a reward? Another chance to face Martinez, today in Boston's home opener at Fenway Park.

"I think it'll be cool pitching there," Johnson said. "I like pitching in Boston, and I'm looking forward to facing their team again."

Johnson didn't mean it this way, but it will be cool today at Fenway Park.

The forecast calls for a high of 42 degrees, with a 50 percent chance of rain. It was 52 degrees at Camden Yards on Saturday, when Johnson pitched his gem.

Despite the chill, Johnson had full command of all his pitches, and he stymied a Red Sox lineup that averaged 7.9 runs over its first seven games.

Seeing the same team again, just five days later, will probably require some adjustments.

"I'd much rather go out there and throw the same way I did," Johnson said.

"But I am going to have to switch a couple things up because I got guys out a certain way last time, and I'm going to have to switch it up this time."

Foss to be honored

Joe Foss, Orioles vice chairman and chief operating officer, will be honored by the Maryland Lupus Foundation at its 25th anniversary gala tomorrow. Foss and his wife, Dawn, have two daughters with lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects one of every 185 Americans.

The event will run from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., at the Scottish Rite Temple in Baltimore.

Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan will be on hand to introduce Foss. For tickets or information, call 410-337-9000.

Around the horn

With his three-run homer in the fourth inning, Jay Gibbons is batting .625 against Tampa Bay starter Steve Parris, with three homers in eight at-bats. ... The Devil Rays had two more infield hits yesterday, both by Marlon Anderson, raising their major league-leading total to 22. ... Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli each had one hit, extending their hitting streaks to 10 games apiece.

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