The right-hander destroyed that scenario with a pitching
performance that was nothing short of remarkable.
Making his first major league appearance since 2001, Borkowski took a shutout into the ninth inning Monday night, leading the Orioles past the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-2 for a doubleheader sweep.
In the day game, Daniel Cabrera and two relievers limited Tampa Bay to four hits, and Baltimore received successive two-out RBI doubles in the seventh inning by Luis Matos and Tim Raines Jr. in a 4-2 victory.
Tampa Bay, which has lost three straight after winning 19 of 23, fell behind 7-0 by the fourth inning of the night game. Borkowski
(1-0) came within two outs of his first complete game in 14 career
starts, but he was replaced after yielding successive one-out
homers to Rocco Baldelli and Aubrey Huff.
Still, he was plenty good enough to scuffle the Orioles' plan to send Borkowski back to Triple-A Ottawa, where he was 6-9 with a
4.85 ERA before being summoned Monday to fill the void in the
"I told him, 'You're staying here. We appreciate this, don't
move too quick,' " Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.
Borkowski allowed six hits, struck out six and walked one in his first start since April 23, 2000. It was his first win since Sept.
"It was by far the best game I've pitched this year," he said.
"There was a little bit of pressure, but after they put up five
runs in the first couple innings, it went away."
Jerry Hairston had four hits and scored four runs for the
Orioles, who led 5-0 in the second inning and coasted to their
fifth win in seven games. Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro drove
in two runs apiece, and Raines contributed three hits.
After Borkowski left, Mike DeJean got the final two outs. But missing out on his first complete game did little to deter the
enjoyment Borkowski derived from his improbable gem.
"That was great. They said you pitch like that, you deserve
another shot," he said.
Baltimore battered Tampa Bay starter Jeremi Gonzalez (0-1), who was called up from Triple-A Durham before the game. He pitched six innings, allowing six earned runs and tying a club record by yielding 14 hits.
"I made a couple of mistakes and got killed," Gonzalez said.
"I just want to put this game behind me and start over again, and
hopefully the next time I'll get the ball down."
Much like Borkowski, who once pitched to Tampa Bay's Robert Fick when Fick was a catcher with the Tigers.
"He was battling some arm injuries and stuff, and he wasn't the same guy it seemed like he was tonight," Fick said.
And the Devil Rays sure didn't look like the team that was 30-11 since May 20.
"It's tough," Fick said, "but it's a long season. The guys
aren't tired, it's just baseball."
In the opener, Baltimore took a 4-2 lead with a two-run seventh against Dewon Brazelton (2-1). Javy Lopez hit a leadoff double, and the next two batters grounded out before Matos and Raines followed with doubles.
B.J. Ryan (3-2) retired all four batters he faced and Jorge
Julio worked the ninth for his 12th save. His only two blown saves
were against Tampa Bay.
Brazelton permitted only one runner over the first four innings and struck out five of his 13 batters, but Baltimore took a 2-0
lead in the fifth. Lopez was hit by a pitch and took third on a
double by Larry Bigbie before Hairston singled in a run. Bigbie
scored on a double-play grounder.
The Devil Rays tied it in the sixth. Baldelli singled and Tino
Martinez hit his 13th homer, a two-out drive on a 3-2 pitch. Four
of Martinez's five hits against the Orioles this season have been
The Orioles placed 3B Melvin Mora on the 15-day disabled
list with a strained right hamstring to make room for Borkowski,
who was added to the 40-man roster when Baltimore moved DH David Segui to the 60-day DL. ... It was Martinez's first homer since
June 19. ... Tejada, whose hitting streak ended at 19 games in the
opener, played in his 674th consecutive game in the nightcap,
passing Earl Averill Sr. for the 16th-longest streak in major