Ryan loads up the drama, getting first save as new closer

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He fills bases, strikes out last 2

Surhoff is honored

Orioles

September 26, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles reliever B.J. Ryan got the last three outs yesterday to notch his second save this year, and the first since manager Lee Mazzilli made him the closer last week.

In his second appearance since changing roles, Ryan loaded the bases with one out before striking out Marcus Thames and pinch hitter Chris Shelton to preserve a 3-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards.

"I was just trying to get control of the situation and maybe get a ground ball and get out of it," he said.

Ryan gave up two singles and hit a batter, his first this season, before blowing away Shelton on three pitches.

"You want to go 1-2-3, obviously," Mazzilli said, "but to watch the way he came back and dug down deep, that's the sign of a closer."

They tend to struggle, as Ryan has done twice.

Inheriting a 9-5 lead in Boston Thursday, Ryan allowed a two-run single to Manny Ramirez and brought the winning run to the plate. David Ortiz flied to the warning track to end it.

"I just haven't pitched real good," he said. "I got a couple pitches up early [yesterday] and they got a couple knocks, but then I finally got the ball down and made some pitches when I needed to."

Ryan's bullpen routine hasn't changed much since he stopped being used in a setup role.

"You just push everything back," he said. "Everything you did in the fifth, I do in the sixth."

He's getting the chance to prove that he's capable of locking up wins in the ninth. Jorge Julio already had been moved to setup, and now he's serving a four-game suspension for throwing at Augie Ojeda.

"I pitch when they tell me to pitch," Ryan said. "If [Mazzilli] gives me the opportunity, I'll go out there and pitch in the ninth. If not, I'll pitch in the eighth."

Chen chat

The day after left-hander Bruce Chen gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings, Mazzilli met with him to discuss pitch selection.

Chen took a shutout into the fifth before the game turned. He stood to lose until Miguel Tejada's ninth-inning homer.

"He went away from his changeup the second time through the order," Mazzilli said. "We had a little chat about that. That's his go-to pitch, that's his strength. You can't go away from that. Sometimes he got a little fastball-happy."

Gibbons still hurting

Jay Gibbons had two hits yesterday and is 15-for-43 (.349) in his past 12 games, but the pain in his left hip is evident each time he runs.

At least he wasn't chasing fly balls in right field. Gibbons made his ninth start at first base.

"He hasn't fully recovered," Mazzilli said. "He hasn't been 100 percent all year. But he's playing and I told him that I appreciate what he's trying to do."

Surhoff Clemente honoree

B.J. Surhoff was honored before the game as the Orioles' recipient of the 2004 Roberto Clemente Award.

Surhoff is a co-founder and member of the board of directors of Pathfinders for Autism, a foundation and resource center dedicated to locating and providing services for families with autistic children. Surhoff and his son, Mason, who's autistic, accepted a check for $2,500 from John Hancock that will be donated to Pathfinders.

"B.J. is really one of those go-to guys for our PR and community relations staffs, in addition to his hands-on work with Pathfinders," said club spokesman Bill Stetka. "When we need a player to meet with war veterans, sick children, do a library appearance, whatever, he'll do it if he can, year-round."

Around the horn

Tejada's grounder in the first inning gave him 139 RBIs, three short of Rafael Palmeiro's single-season record. ... After being told he was shut down for the season, Erik Bedard could be used in long relief.

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