Surhoff makes throw, saves Orioles' 1-0 lead

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He moves from first to left, nabs Rios trying to score

April 24, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - B.J. Surhoff made his first start at first base this season yesterday, but it was his play in left field in the seventh inning that saved the Orioles' 4-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.

Surhoff, who was moved to the outfield at the start of the inning as Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli brought in Rafael Palmeiro to play first, threw out Toronto's Alex Rios, who was trying to score from second on Gregg Zaun's bloop single.

Surhoff's throw arrived at the plate about the same time as Rios, and home plate umpire Larry Vanover ruled that Orioles catcher Javy Lopez blocked the plate. That ended the inning, preserving a 1-0 lead and Erik Bedard's first victory.

"I had a good break on the ball," said Surhoff, who went 2-for-4 and scored a run. "If I didn't think I had any chance, I wouldn't have thrown it because that would have [put runners on] second and third. With this turf, the ball just sits.

"Javy does a good job of blocking the plate off. Normally, I like to throw the ball on one hop, but I felt good, adrenaline took over and the ball carried. I knew if it was on target, he was going to have to knock Javy off the plate."

Mazzilli shuffled his lineup, taking Palmeiro and Larry Bigbie out and starting Surhoff at first and David Newhan in left field. Mazzilli doesn't know how much first base Surhoff will play this season.

Surhoff played in 10 games there last season and he was tested early. He couldn't handle Miguel Tejada's bouncing throw in the first inning, but then made a diving stop on Corey Koskie's hard grounder with men on first and second and one out. Surhoff started a 3-6-1 double play that got Bedard out of the first inning unscathed.

"He hasn't been over there in awhile, but I just wanted to get a little bit of a feel for him over there," Mazzilli said. "B.J.'s a pro. That's what he is, a pro."

Surhoff, who took grounders at first before the past two games, figured the ball would find him because "you just have a feeling when you play a position that you are not playing a lot of."

Another Tejada scare

The Orioles could certainly afford to go a day without getting a scare with the health of their franchise player.

Tejada took an awkward fall in the eighth inning Friday night, trying to beat out a grounder. Mazzilli and head trainer Richie Bancells rushed out of the dugout and Tejada stayed down for a moment, but he was more scared by the nature of the fall than hurt.

In the first inning yesterday, Blue Jays starter Dave Bush lost control of a 2-2 curveball, hitting Tejada in the back of the helmet. Bancells and Mazzilli again rushed out of the dugout, but Tejada, who appeared to be stunned initially, was smiling and laughing as he took his base.

Cabrera says he's close

Despite Daniel Cabrera's struggles with his control in three of his four outings, including Friday night when he tied a career high with six walks, Mazzilli maintained he isn't worried about the right-hander.

He just hopes Cabrera is learning about the importance of throwing strikes. In four starts, Cabrera has allowed 13 walks, third most in the American League entering yesterday.

"You have to stay in [the] strike zone," Mazzilli said. "He has such quality stuff. He throws 97, 98 [mph] at times, but when you get behind, velocity doesn't mean anything really. He's got that natural sink to his ball, but he's got to stay away from the [walks]."

Cabrera isn't all too concerned, either.

"I'm close," he said. "The last two games, I've just had two bad innings."

Around the horn

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing the play at the plate. It was the second time this season that he has been thrown out. ... The Orioles had two steals yesterday and now have stolen bases in 10 of their past 15 games.

ORIOLES

Today @ BLUE JAYS 1:07 p.m. Ch. 13

Mon. @ RED SOX 7:05 p.m. CSN

Tue. @ RED SOX 7:05 p.m. CSN

Wed. @ RED SOX 1:05 p.m. CSN

Thu. OFF

Fri. DEVIL RAYS 7:35 p.m. CSN

Sat. DEVIL RAYS 4:35 p.m. Ch. 13

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