"It's not frustrating," said the former closer. "I've been out of there a lot of times with the game tied and it's tough to be perfect all the time. It's tough to get wins all the time. ... Sometimes, my job is to keep the game close and to try to give the team a chance to come back and win the ballgame. That's what I was trying to do."
And by all accounts, Baez did exactly that on Monday night. The veteran came into a tie game in the eighth inning and struck out three of the first four batters he faced. Baez then struck out the first batter in the ninth and got a ground ball to second before serving up a game-breaking home run ball to Clete Thomas.
That shot traveled all the way to dead center field and marred the reliever's performance, which he regarded as one of his best in a difficult season. Baez has returned from missing an entire year due to ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow, and he said Tuesday that he was thrilled with the way he pitched in Monday's series opener.
"Even that pitch wasn't that bad," he said. "When he hit the ball, I thought he had good contact on it, but it was a line drive to center field. I was trying to stay away from the lefty's power to right field, trying to keep the ball in center field or left field. I was trying to get a fly ball or hard contact, but I still can't believe that ball went out of the ballpark."
It's been a long road back for Baez, who has 114 career saves but came to Spring Training as a rotation hopeful. The conversion back to starting didn't take, and Baez settled in as a late-inning security blanket for manager Dave Trembley. While his season has been up-and-down, Baez feels good about his progress.
"My arm feels good," said Baez. "I never thought I'd have 52 innings at this time of the season, but it feels good. I've been working super-hard and trying to keep my mechanics in place to not put too much stress on my elbow. But I feel good. My velocity's good and my location's [good]. The first year back from Tommy John [elbow reconstruction] surgery, you're supposed to walk a lot of people because you don't have location. I don't have that kind of problem.
"I don't have any problem with my elbow and I've thrown multiple innings most of the time, which is good."Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-10, 5.37 ERA)
The Orioles ace continued to struggle with the long ball in his last start. Guthrie gave up three home runs in a loss to the Red Sox, bringing his total to 26 this season -- three more than he allowed all of last year. The right-hander lasted 6 2/3 innings in his previous start, giving up nine hits and two walks while striking out four. DET: RHP Edwin Jackson (7-5, 2.64 ERA)
Though Jackson lasted just four innings Friday at Cleveland, he needed 115 pitches to get there, the highest pitch count by a starter who didn't last into the fifth since at least 1988. More worrisome than the statistics is the stuff, which hasn't been quite as crisp in his past two starts. After racking up at least seven strikeouts in seven starts over a 12-start stretch, Jackson hasn't gotten the same swings and misses, more like several foul balls. Bird bites
On Monday night, the Orioles became the first team since 1900 -- and the second in recorded baseball history -- to have five pitchers win their big league debut in the same season. ... Brian Roberts led off Tuesday's game with a double, which was the 300th of his career. Roberts has 38 two-baggers, the highest total in the American League, and has batted safely in eight straight games. He's hitting .371 (13-for-35) over that span. ... Nick Markakis drove in three runs Tuesday night and leads the team with 76 RBIs this season. The right fielder is batting .414 (12-for-29) over the life of his seven-game hitting streak. ... Cesar Izturis hit his first home run since Opening Day on Tuesday. Tickets
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Thursday: Orioles (David Hernandez, 3-3, 3.28) at Tigers (Rick Porcello, 9-7, 4.36), 1:05 p.m. ET
Friday: Orioles (Jason Berken, 1-9, 6.93) at Blue Jays (Brett Cecil, 5-1, 4.36), 7:07 p.m. ET
Saturday: Orioles (Chris Tillman, 0-0, 6.75) at Blue Jays (Ricky Romero, 10-4, 3.53), 1:07 p.m. ET
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less