In his second start, Delmarva's Loewen is out of control

He walks 7 in 5 innings, but Shorebirds win, 7-4

April 17, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY - Chilly weather and a treacherous infield conspired against left-hander Adam Loewen in his 2004 debut with the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds.

Given a second chance to impress last night, the Orioles' top pitching prospect had to contend with a long layoff and a plate that kept moving on him.

Going a week between starts because of rain-related postponements, Loewen walked seven batters in five innings in Delmarva's 7-4 win over the Lexington Legends at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium.

Loewen needed 96 pitches to get through four innings, with 37 pitches coming in the second. He held Lexington to two hits, including an infield single but was charged with three runs. He struck out eight.

"This is something I'm going to have to sort out in the bullpen, work on mechanics," said Loewen, who was spared the loss when Delmarva scored five runs in the eighth to erase a 4-2 deficit, the last three on a bases-loaded double by Juan Guiterrez. "Fifty percent of the time I was staying back and getting that downward angle on the ball. The other half I was just throwing Frisbees up there."

Following Brian Finch in the Shorebirds' rotation, Loewen allowed three runs in three innings in his first start in Charleston, W.Va. But the reviews were better than the numbers.

"It was three runs, but they didn't hit him hard," manager Bien Figueroa said. "There were a lot of ground balls, and that field was one of the worst I've ever seen in baseball. They hit a weak ground ball, and it goes over third base. They hit a routine ground ball to short for a double play, and it took a nasty hop. We made mistakes in the field, but they were scored as hits. The only reason I took him out was for the pitch count."

The fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft, Loewen has walked 10 in his two starts. He failed to retire the last seven he faced in spring training, walking six and hitting one, before the Orioles reassigned him to the minor league camp in Sarasota, Fla.

"When he got sent down, he threw four innings very good, then he threw five innings very well," said Figueroa, who watched Loewen in Sarasota.

"When he was in the big league camp, he wasn't ready. Like every pitcher, they go there to get in shape. Remember, he lives in Canada, so he was coming from cold weather. It takes time to get your rhythm."

The Shorebirds are waiting for him to do it against South Atlantic League competition. Loewen walked nine in 23 1/3 innings with short-season Aberdeen last year, and was mystified by his control problems this spring. He kept missing high last night with a fastball that averaged 93 mph.

"I was erratic," he said.

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