FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- As he prepared to face a major league batter for the first time in well over a year, Danys Baez had no idea what to expect from his reconstructed right elbow.
"Before the first pitch, there were too many feelings at the same time," Baez said. "You're always concerned about your arm, how it's going to react against a hitter."The results weren't nearly as solid as the elbow. The Orioles right-hander allowed three walks and two runs in one inning, but Baltimore bounced back to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-3 on Thursday.Baez hadn't pitched since mid-September 2007. He underwent ligament replacement surgery the following month and missed last season. Now he's trying to win a job with the Orioles as a starter, a role he hasn't held since starting 26 games for Cleveland in 2002.Being Baltimore's first pitcher of the day wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as wondering how his arm would hold up."It was kind of a weird feeling," he said.A former All-Star closer, Baez began the day by retiring Joe Thurston on a grounder and Joe Mather on a fly ball. But he walked the next three batters before Yadier Molina doubled in two runs. Then, on his 34th pitch, Baez got Brian Barton to hit a fly ball."Got a quick two outs and then I was trying to get the third out before I threw the first pitch," Baez conceded. "In the beginning I was fine. Then I was trying to do too much."Orioles manager Dave Trembley said: "He just got stuck. He just couldn't get out of it. I wanted him to go two innings but he threw 30-some pitches in the first. He worked way too hard and had to get out of it."But at least Baez appears healthy."I thought before I got out there that maybe I might feel strange. It's something I haven't done in a long time," he said. "But it felt good after the first pitch. Great feeling."St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse also got off to a good start before faltering. He retired the side in order in the first, then gave up two-run homers to Justin Christian and Nolan Reimold in the second."I got my work in. I thought I was OK," Lohse said. "I threw a couple pitches down and in that they hit. I guess they were looking for them."Reimold added a two-run single off Ian Ostlund in the third, and Scott Moore hit a three-run homer against Brad Furnish in the sixth.