This time, Walker prevails vs. Pena

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Lefty fans slugger after allowing 2 HRs to him in April

May 26, 2008|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The matchup didn't seem to favor the Orioles on paper or in the batter's box.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley summoned left-hander Jamie Walker from the bullpen in the sixth inning yesterday with two runners on base, two outs, the score tied and Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena due up. The move wasn't automatic, as Pena had hit game-tying home runs off Walker on two consecutive nights last month at Tropicana Field. But starter Daniel Cabrera had thrown 118 pitches and walked two straight batters, so Trembley went with the percentages - left-hander vs. left-hander.

Walker struck out Pena on a changeup to preserve the tie and continue his resurgence in this series. Left-handers were batting .417 against him when the Orioles arrived here, compared with .216 last season, but he retired the only two he faced Friday night and dispatched Pena yesterday.

Rather than reflect on his April failings against Pena as he left the bullpen, Walker said: "You've got to let that stuff go. In my mind, I know what he's done off me, but I also know I've gotten him out a lot over the years, so I just thought, `The [heck] with it, if he hits it out, he hits it out.' When I got to two strikes, though, I thought, `I've got to bury him right here.' I didn't want to go to 3-2 and then the runners would be going in a tie game. Basically, I was trying to get a strikeout, and it worked out."

After studying some videotape of Walker last season, when he was the team's best reliever, bullpen coach Alan Dunn worked with the pitcher on his arm slot. Dunn believed that Walker had dropped it significantly, which made his off-speed pitches flatten.

"I've just been working a little bit and just trying to simplify things, basically," Walker said. "When you start throwing from different arm angles, which I've done in my career, you get caught in between. That's where I've been a lot, and I'm better than that. I'm just basically working on that kind of stuff, not really changing anything, just simplifying things."

Aches, pains for Scott

When Trembley wrote out yesterday's lineup a night in advance, he included Luke Scott in left field. It wasn't until Trembley showed up at Tropicana Field yesterday that Scott's aching body overruled his decision.

Scott is bothered by a sore right knee, right shoulder and left Achilles' tendon, mostly the result of his diving catch on the warning track during Friday night's game - although the knee also hurts from compensating for the Achilles'. He grounded out as a pinch hitter yesterday.

"I talked to him this morning when I got in, and I said, `Of the three areas, what's bothering you the most?' And he said it was the knee," Trembley said.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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