On Thursday, Ponson came within one out of a complete game, giving up three runs and six hits in a 5-3 win over the New York Yankees. The victory snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Yankees for Ponson, who, at the time, moved into a tie for the most wins in baseball with 14.
But perhaps more significantly, the win, which came in the midst of his contract negotiations with the Orioles and near-constant trade rumors, served as further proof that Ponson is a far more mature pitcher this season.
“I told you guys before I am not worried about getting traded,” he said. “I told you guys I will just pack my bags and I am gone. That’s all. I threw a lot of pitches and kept a good-hitting ballclub down, so I am happy about it.”
Manager Mike Hargrove was impressed with his pitcher’s poise.
“It just shows you how much Sidney has grown, to be able to separate the two,” Hargrove said.
Besides maturing mentally, Ponson has also learned to be more patient on the mound, slowing down his fastball to make it more effective.
“My ball has a lot of movement instead of throwing 98 straight down the middle,” he said.
Luis Rivas homered for the Twins, who have lost three straight and five of seven.
STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 13 1/2 GB, AL East. Twins - 3rd place, 6 1/2 GB, AL Central.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Ponson (14-5, 3.64 ERA). In nine career appearances, including eight starts, against the Twins, Ponson is 6-1 with a 2.21 ERA—his second-best mark against any American League team.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Brad Radke (6-9, 5.33 ERA). Radke gave up two earned runs and five hits in seven innings of Minnesota’s 6-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, but he did not receive the decision. He is 6-4 with a 4.34 ERA in 13 career appearances, including 12 starts, against the Orioles.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Melvin Mora, .325 avg.; Batista, 19 HRs; Jeff Conine, 74 RBIs and 63 runs; Brian Roberts, 17 SBs. Twins - Jacque Jones, .310 avg.; Torii Hunter, 18 HRs and 66 RBIs; Hunter and Jones, 53 runs; Carlos Guzman, 12 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Orioles, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: OF-DH B.J. Surhoff was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season with a strained left quadriceps. INF Jose Leon was recalled from Triple-A Ottawa. … The Orioles have won 24 of their past 31 at the Metrodome. … OF-INF Melvin Mora did not play Tuesday because of lingering soreness in his hand from an injury that happened five weeks ago. Hargrove said that Mora would not go on the DL. Twins - Tuesday’s game started a run of 20 straight games without a day off for the Twins. … Minnesota hasn’t won a season series against Baltimore since 1995. … On Tuesday, OF Shannon Stewart made his first start in left field for the Twins.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 23-29 on the road; Twins - 28-26 at home.
INJURIES: Orioles - INF David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Jerry Hairston Jr. (foot), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; OF-INF Mora (right hand), day-to-day; OF-DH Surhoff (quadriceps), 15-day DL. Twins - IF Corey Koskie (back), 15-day DL; OF Lew Ford (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.