The first half of the season couldn’t have gone much better for Baltimore starter Sidney Ponson. Not only was he knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands as a Knight in the Order of the Dutch Royal House, he also set the foundation for the best season of his six-year career.
Ponson hopes the second half is just as kind to him as he takes the mound for the Orioles in the third game of their weekend series with the Anaheim Angels at Camden Yards.
Ponson won 12 games before the All-Star break, tying him with Oakland’s Mark Mulder and Seattle’s Jamie Moyer for the second-best total in the American League. He has won 11 of his last 14 starts and has pitched all four of the Orioles’ complete games.
Through his first five seasons in the majors, Ponson struggled to a 41-53 record. This year, he has learned to control his infamous temper—and his fastball.
The 26-year-old right-hander gave up an average of 26 homers per year entering this season, but has yielded just nine thus far.
“The old Sidney was able to throw 98 mph, and so he’d try to blow it by everybody,” Orioles first baseman Jeff Conine said. “Now he’s throwing 93 and keeping it on the black part of the plate. He’s pitching instead of throwing.”
Ponson allowed just seven hits in a 4-1 complete-game victory over Seattle on July 10.
“Sidney has certainly developed into the No. 1 guy on this staff,” Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said
Tony Batista entered Friday’s game in an 0-for-14 slump, but belted a grand slam and a tie-breaking, eighth-inning homer to lead the Orioles to a 6-5 win over the Angels.
All-Star MVP Garrett Anderson went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs, and Scott Spezio went 3-for-5 for the Angels, who have lost two straight after a five-game winning streak.
STANDINGS: Angels - 3rd place, 10 GB, AL West. Orioles - 4th place, 15 GB, AL East.
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTER: Kevin Appier (6-5, 4.78 ERA). Appier gave up three runs—one earned—and five hits over five innings in the Angels’ 5-3 win over Kansas City on July 9. In 25 career starts against the Orioles, the veteran right-hander is 6-10 with a 4.11 ERA.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Ponson (12-5, 3.64 ERA). Ponson is 5-0 with a 4.56 ERA in eight career appearances, including seven starts, against the Angels.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Angels - Anderson, .318 avg., 23 HRs, 82 RBIs and 53 runs; Adam Kennedy, 11 SBs. Orioles - Melvin Mora, .346 avg. and 57 runs; Batista, 18 HRs and 66 RBIs; Jerry Hairston Jr. and Brian Roberts, 14 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Orioles, 6-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - LF Anderson, whose 59 extra-base hits lead the majors, is riding a season-high 10-game hitting streak. … Before LHP Jarrod Washburn allowed five runs in the first inning Friday, Angels pitchers had allowed just seven earned runs over their previous 47 innings (1.34 ERA). … RF Tim Salmon is 6-for-14 (.429) with two doubles, a homer and eight RBIs in his career against RHP Ponson. Orioles - DH-OF B.J. Surhoff missed his sixth consecutive game Friday with a mild strain of the right quadriceps muscle. However, manager Mike Hargrove said he “probably” would have played had the Angels not started a left-hander. … 2B Brian Roberts has started 47 of 49 games since being recalled from the minors May 21, and has reached base safely in 44 games. … 3B Batista is 7-for-13 (.538) with two doubles, three homers and seven RBIs in his career against RHP Appier.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels - 20-25 on the road; Orioles - 23-24 at home.
INJURIES: Angels - 1B-DH Brad Fullmer (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Mickey Callaway (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Wise (elbow), 60-day DL. Orioles - OF Larry Bigbie (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Hairston Jr. (foot), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; DH-OF Surhoff (quadriceps), day-to-day.