Surhoff, Orioles Remain In the Swing of Things

B.J. Surhoff follows through on what turns out to be the game-winning hit in the eighth inning. (Joe Giza - Reuters)
B.J. Surhoff follows through on what turns out to be the game-winning hit in the eighth inning. (Joe Giza - Reuters)
By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 12, 2005

BALTIMORE, May 11 -- The wins continue to add up and the skeptics turn a little bit less cynical each day, but the Baltimore Orioles, one day later this season, might point to a sunny day in early May when they roared back against the reigning Cy Young Award winner while two thirds of their outfield was on the disabled list as the turning point of their season.

"It was the best win of the year," Manager Lee Mazzilli said of the Orioles' 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

The loss on Tuesday night of right fielder Sammy Sosa and center fielder Luis Matos to the disabled list could have easily cast a pall on the team. Mazzilli sensed it. One hour prior to the game, the manager closed the clubhouse and met with the team, telling them to keep playing with the same intensity.

"I think he sensed we were a little down and quieter than normal," Jay Gibbons said.

They were no longer quiet after the game. After the win, relievers Steve Reed and Steve Kline distributed B.J. Surhoff T-shirts to the entire team. Each player wore them and eagerly waited for the outfielder to get to his locker. Surly as always, Surhoff, who knew what was going on, made them wait. When he emerged from one of the rooms in the clubhouse, he wore a customary frown.

"I don't know about them," Surhoff said. "I guess it's their way of trying to get under my skin."

Surhoff's single in the eighth inning broke a 4-4 tie. With two runners on base Mazzilli asked Surhoff to bunt. Minnesota brought in left-handed reliever J.C. Romero to face Surhoff, who played in place of Sosa. Mazzilli changed his strategy. The two talked in the dugout.

"If they're down your throat, swing," Mazzilli told Surhoff.

Surhoff bunted the first pitch foul. He set up for the bunt on the second pitch, but pulled the bat away when the pitch was wide. On the third pitch, Surhoff swung, sending the ball down the right field line past first baseman Justin Morneau, who was playing shallow expecting a bunt.

"The bunt was on the whole time," Surhoff said. "I just didn't feel like bunting. He told me to get them over any way I could."

In order to get the win, the Orioles came back twice against Johan Santana, who has been the best pitcher in baseball the past season and a half. The Twins gave Santana leads of 1-0 and 4-2, but the 2004 Cy Young Award winner could not hold them. In the fifth inning, the Orioles tied the game on Santana's wild pitch. Baltimore had tired Santana in that inning. He threw 28 pitches in the fifth and eventually was taken out of the game after the sixth. Baltimore scored three runs in the eighth against two relievers.

"They're playing good baseball," Santana said. "Hopefully if we keep everything going and they keep everything going, we'll see them later in the season. They've made a lot of improvements from last year."

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