Facing Strasburg sparked Floyd

Severna Park native hot since dueling with phenom in June

August 06, 2010|By Don Markus and Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Chicago White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd, a 27-year-old right hander from Severna Park (Mount St. Joseph), enters tonight's start against the Orioles having turned around what early on had the makings of a disappointing season.

In his past six starts, Floyd (7-8, 3.54 ERA) is 3-1 with a major league-low 0.89 ERA. For his performance, Floyd was named the American League's top pitcher for July.

Floyd, whose ERA had ballooned to 6.52 in early June, said before Friday's game that his recent improvement was the result of "my focus, my persistence of working at trying to get better and my conviction on each pitch."

Said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski: "He's always had great stuff. He had good years before, he's won 18 games before, he's won a bunch of games. He had to find the confidence. Once he found that, he's been great."

Pierzynski said Floyd's confidence turned around when he dueled with Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg on June18 in Washington. Floyd gave up only one run and four hits in eight innings, striking out five and walking one. Floyd didn't get a decision in what turned out to be a 2-1 win in extra innings, but his catcher thinks matching the rookie sensation helped.

Since then, Pierzynski said, "if he hasn't been the best pitcher [in baseball], he's been one of the top two or three pitchers I've seen."

Added Floyd: "I really went out and started focusing on what I could do and gave it my all. I think that was one thing that [was] missing, that focus and that attitude."

Floyd spent more time at Camden Yards as a fan growing up than he has as a pitcher, having made only two career starts there, getting a win and a no-decision in 2008.

"It's always going to be special coming back home," Floyd, who now lives outside Tampa, Fla., said of tonight's start. "That's where my family lives. I've been to this park as a fan watching Cal Ripken play. To actually play here, I would say it's a blessing."

Makeup call

Nearly four decades after being denied a $5,000 raise for falling one RBI short of sharing the American League title with New York Yankees star Roger Maris, former Orioles first baseman Jim Gentile was given a check for that amount Friday — by the son of the man who first turned him down.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, whose father, Lee, was the team's general manager in 1961, presented the 76-year-old Gentile with an oversize check on the field during a pre-game ceremony at Camden Yards. The presentation came days after a column on AOL Fanhouse sparked interest in the long-forgotten story.

It caught Gentile by surprise. He had planned to come to Baltimore for the team's Hall of Fame luncheon and other activities. As a ruse, Gentile was told by a team official that he was going to throw out the first pitch before Friday night's game against the White Sox.

As he approached the mound, MacPhail told him, "This is for what my father started."

Though the Elias Sports Bureau had made the correction within the past year, Gentile said he had known about the official scorer's error for about 15 years.

A writer called him to tell him. Gentile said he even saw a 1996 edition of the Baseball Almanac where the correction had been made.

Gentile and Maris finished the 1961 season — the same year Maris broke Babe Ruth's home run record with 61 — with 146 RBIs. That year, Gentile also had career highs with 46 home runs and a .302 batting average.

And what does he plan on doing with the check?

"I've got to talk with my wife, Paula," said Gentile, who has been married for 43 years and lives in Edmund, Okla. "She's battled cancer, so we might donate some of the money to cancer research."

Call brings emotions for Miller

After Ray Miller got the call informing him of his induction into the Orioles Hall of Fame, he did something that he never expected to do. He cried.

"The first time in my life I was speechless when they called me," said Miller, who spent two seasons as Orioles manager and had three tenures as the team's pitching coach. "I never cried, and I cried just thinking about all the people that were in there. To be acknowledged with those names, it's phenomenal."

Miller, who will be inducted before tonight's game, spent parts of 11 seasons as Orioles pitching coach. His time is now devoted to his mowing and wood businesses in Ohio.

"Everybody says that they can't believe how many hours I work, and I say, 'That's because you've never been around a major league schedule,'" Miller said. "This is easy."

o'clock, we worked on tomorrow morning. I think Buck will get back to that and you'll see a great result."

Showalter, Bell meet

Showalter met with rookie third baseman Josh Bell before Thursday's game and urged him to take advantage of the opportunity that he's getting. Bell, who returned to the lineup after sitting one game with hamstring cramps, entered Friday batting .206 in 10 games with three RBIs.

"I was talking to him, making sure he understands how important this opportunity is," Showalter said. "I'm not putting pressure or anything. I said, 'I can sit there and tell you to relax all day, but you're smart enough to understand that these things could be fleeting, so make an impression on somebody every day by what you do and the way you carry yourself.'"

don.markus@baltsun.com

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

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