Orioles tilt lineup to right vs. Wells

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Eight right-handed bats face Sox lefty

Surhoff does damage from left

Notebook

April 26, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - The lineup Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli sent out to face Boston Red Sox left-hander David Wells last night featured eight right-handed batters and B.J. Surhoff.

The left-handed-hitting Surhoff entered last night 19-for-56 (.339) with four doubles and a homer against Wells for his career. That explains his presence in the lineup. The fact that left-handed batters have hit .259 as opposed to .280 for right-handed hitters against Wells this season pretty much explains the rest of it.

"I wanted to shake it up and ... get some right-handers in there as much as we can," Mazzilli said.

Last Wednesday, Mazzilli gave Rafael Palmeiro the start at first base despite his having gone 13-for-70 lifetime against Wells. The veteran went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, and the Orioles were shut out by Wells through eight innings and held to three hits.

Last night's moves proved more beneficial to the Orioles. Surhoff had a single and his first homer of the season off Wells, a two-run shot that helped the Orioles chase him in the fourth inning. He allowed eight hits and six runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Palmeiro sat last night, as did starting left fielder Larry Bigbie and designated hitter Jay Gibbons, both left-handed batters. Instead, Mazzilli started Geronimo Gil at catcher, moved Javy Lopez to designated hitter, played Surhoff in left field and gave Chris Gomez his third start of the season at first base.

It was the first time Gil, who was 1-for-4 with an RBI on Sunday and entered the game hitting .333, started back-to-back games this season.

"I looked at the lineup and I was surprised," said Gil, who had three hits in 12 career at-bats against Wells before last night. "It feels good."

Ponson is upbeat

A day after throwing 131 pitches in a complete-game victory over the Blue Jays, Sidney Ponson was "feeling great," according to Mazzilli. The manager said Ponson, whose next start will be pushed back a day to Saturday, will go through his normal routine getting ready for the start.

Ponson said after Sunday's game that he didn't foresee fatigue being a problem.

"He threw 130 pitches, but I think he was very much within himself," Mazzilli said. "I think it sounds more than it is. I think Sidney was pretty much in control of himself the whole game. Sometimes, [a pitch count] could be misleading. ... Some guys throw 100 pitches, but there is an easy 100 or a hard 100."

Sound support

When the Orioles scored seven runs on Sunday off Toronto starter Roy Halladay and reliever Justin Speier, they were simply continuing a trend established in Ponson's first start.

In Ponson's four outings - he's 3-1 - the Orioles have scored 34 runs, or 8.5 a game. That's the most run support for an Orioles starter this year.

Daniel Cabrera (1-1) is getting 7.0 runs a game, Bruce Chen (2-1) receives 5.3 and Rodrigo Lopez (2-1) gets 4.5. Meanwhile, Erik Bedard (1-1) is getting an average of only 3.3 runs an outing.

Around the horn

Miguel Tejada's RBI groundout to score Brian Roberts in the first inning last night was the first run Boston has given up this season in the first inning. ... Last night was Sammy Sosa's first regular-season game at Fenway Park since May 15, 1991, when he was with the Chicago White Sox. Sosa, who played in the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway, hit his first career homer off then-Boston starter Roger Clemens on June 21, 1989. ... Rodrigo Lopez, who starts tonight, is 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in his career at Fenway Park.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site, time: Fenway Park, Boston, 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (2-1, 1.91) vs. Red Sox's Matt Clement (2-0, 2.13)

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