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Orioles minor league recap 9/11: Baumann struggles, Bowie offense goes silent in championship series opener

Round one of the best-of-five Eastern League finals went to the Trenton Thunder.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Yusniel Diaz had a good night at the plate. The same can’t be said for most of his teammates.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Trenton Thunder (Yankees) 6, Bowie Baysox 2 — Eastern League Championship, Game 1

This is it, folks. The championship round. The Bowie Baysox, the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, began their best-of-five series against the Trenton Thunder for the Eastern League title. Sadly, it wasn’t the start they had anticipated.

The Baysox jumped out to a quick lead against lefty Jordan Montgomery, on a rehab assignment from the Yankees. Cedric Mullins led off with a walk, moved to second on a single, to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Montgomery’s wild pickoff throw to first. Yusniel Diaz followed with an RBI double, making it a 2-0 game before a batter had been retired. The Baysox were off to the races, it seemed.

The Bowie offense, though, was kept off the scoreboard the rest of the game, mainly because the Thunder kept using ringers. Er, “rehabbers.” Montgomery was the first of three consecutive major leaguers to pitch for Trenton. He was followed by four-time All-Star Dellin Betances, who allowed a double and a walk but no runs in the fourth inning. Next came lefty Stephen Tarpley, a former Orioles prospect whom the O’s traded for Travis Snider four years ago. He stranded two runners in a scoreless fifth.

On the Baysox pitching side, Michael Baumann celebrated his 24th birthday by starting the series opener. Unfortunately, the Thunder showed blatant disregard for his big day, chasing him in the fourth inning. Baumann’s evening was an ongoing struggle, with Trenton putting at least two runners on base against him in every inning.

He managed to pitch out of trouble in the first two innings — especially the second, in which he stranded a leadoff man at third base with help from two strikeouts — but the roof caved in in the third. A walk and three straight singles plated a pair of runs, tying the score (on the second RBI hit, catcher Carlos Perez dropped a strong throw from Diaz that would’ve cut down the runner). Baumann struck out the side that inning, but it was little consolation.

Baumann retired the first two batters of the fourth before the wheels came off again. He lost the strike zone and issued three straight walks — with a wild pitch included in there — before Zach Muckenhirn replaced him to escape the bases-loaded jam. Baumann, in just 3.2 innings, labored for 91 pitches (56 strikes), giving up five hits, issuing five walks, and throwing two wild pitches. He struck out six. Sorry you didn’t have a better birthday, buddy.

It was Muckenhirn who was tagged for the game-deciding runs. In the fifth, with a runner at first, Angel Aguilar singled, and the runner came all the way around to score on a Diaz error in right field. An inning later, Trenton’s Kellin Deglan added some insurance with a two-run triple, then scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2.

The game ended by that score. Three Thunder pitchers combined to blank the Baysox for the final four innings. Bowie wasted a promising rally in the eighth, stranding runners at first and second when Ryan McKenna and Mason McCoy struck out. McCoy was 1-for-3 with a walk in the game; McKenna went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Diaz, the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect, finished 2-for-4.

The two clubs will go at it again in Trenton for game two on Wednesday. Cody Sedlock will make his first postseason appearance for Bowie, while yet another Yankee on rehab assignment — ace right-hander Luis Severino — will counter for the Thunder.