Fasano, Newhan Lift Orioles Past White Sox

Sal Fasano, B.J. Ryan
Sal Fasano and B.J. Ryan celebrate following the Orioles' 6-2 win over the White Sox on Sunday afternoon. (Nam Y. Huh - AP)
By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 16, 2005

CHICAGO, May 15 -- It is likely that if the Baltimore Orioles continue to play well, like they did in their 6-2 win against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, and reach the playoffs, backup catcher Sal Fasano will not be on the playoff roster. But he can always lay claim that on a chilly afternoon in his home town, only days after he had been summoned to the major leagues for the first time since 2002, his two hits helped take out the best team in baseball.

In just one game, Fasano has already done more than he did in 2002, when he earned a championship ring although he struck out in his only at-bat that year for the world champion Anaheim Angels.

"I'm tempted to bring it out, but I'm not going to," Fasano said of his World Series ring. "It's good for weddings. It's a good conversation starter. I don't like to bring it out. It's not that I think it's boastful, but it's one of those things that's better off left away from the park. We're trying to win a championship here. Hopefully, it'd be nice to get one here."

Only two days ago Baltimore appeared overmatched against the first-place White Sox, who despite the loss still own the best record in baseball. Baltimore's offense had been quieted by Chicago pitchers. The Orioles stared at a possible four-game sweep. Now they have regained momentum by winning the final two games, and picked up a game on the second-place Boston Red Sox in the process. They now lead Boston by two games.

"It shows a lot about our team," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "We could have easily rolled over and died. The way they [the White Sox] played the first two games I'm sure they were confident they could take" the series.

Baltimore can fatten its lead in the next few days against the Kansas City Royals, who have the worst record in the majors. On Sunday, starting pitcher Erik Bedard never relinquished a lead Fasano gave Baltimore with his first home run since Sept. 6, 2001. Fasano said he had no recollection of that home run.

"Too many memories in between," he said.

The ball shot quickly into the left field stands. The lumbering Fasano rounded the bases, and somewhere in the crowd, the catcher's family applauded. Fasano, born in Chicago, has hit two of his 31 career home runs at U.S. Cellular Field. He also singled in a run in the seventh.

"Something about being at home," Fasano said. "It's nice when you feel close. It's home. It's a good feeling."

Chicago's major league record of 37 consecutives games with a lead to start the season ended mostly because of Bedard, who pitched seven innings and allowed just two runs and five hits. His ERA is now 2.35, which ranks second in the American League. He has allowed four earned runs in his past 37 innings (0.97 ERA).

"The curveball I can throw for a strike at any time," Bedard said. "I just also feel more relaxed this year, more confident."

The Orioles certainly feel more confident having split the four-game series despite not having their Opening Day outfield for the last three games. Right fielder Sammy Sosa is at home on the disabled list with an infection in his foot; center fielder Luis Matos won't play for at least another six weeks because of a broken finger; and left fielder Larry Bigbie sat for the third consecutive game because of tightness in his left hamstring.

The bench responded. Jeff Fiorentino, the rookie who only days ago was in Class A, had another hit and scored a run. David Newhan, playing left field for Bigbie, homered in the sixth. Keith Reed drove in a run with a bloop hit in the eighth. It was the outfielder's first career single and RBI.

"Anybody who didn't see it on TV, I'm going to tell them it was a one-hopper to left field," Reed joked.

Only two seasons ago, Fasano, 33, was out of baseball after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. He spent all of last season with the Class AAA Columbus Clippers and was passed over for a promotion to the New York Yankees because the team didn't want to expose him to waivers.

"Last year was just the chance to start playing again," Fasano said. "This year was big for me to try to get my power back, to get my strength in my right arm."

He said he never thought about quitting.

"Not until they stop giving me a uniform," he said. "The game has meant so much for me, you just hope you can survive and get an opportunity to play."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company