Costly Victory Leaves O's Down

Bergesen Hit On Shin By Line Drive

First X-rays Negative, But Extent Of Injury Not Yet Known

July 31, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Brad Bergesen pounded his fist into his glove, tapped catcher Matt Wieters' mitt, and then limped to the dugout before finally collapsing in the tunnel leading up toward the Orioles' clubhouse.

"Makes you sick to your stomach," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "It was a sight I'd rather not relive, and I don't really want to talk about it."

A potential injury to Bergesen, the rookie right-hander who has emerged as his team's most consistent starting pitcher, marred the Orioles' 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals in front of an announced 19,194 on Thursday at Camden Yards.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Royals first baseman Billy Butler drilled a line drive flush on Bergesen's left shin, immediately forcing the pitcher to the ground. The ball ricocheted toward Wieters, who threw to first for the final out of the inning. But the immediate concern was for Bergesen, who barely made it off the field and couldn't make it to the clubhouse.

X-rays taken on his left shin were negative, but Bergesen said it is possible he suffered a hairline fracture, which can't be diagnosed until the swelling goes down.

Bergesen will be re-evaluated in the next couple of days. His next scheduled start Tuesday in Detroit is very much in doubt.

"It hurts pretty bad," Bergesen said. "When it first happened, I kind of didn't really know what happened at first, it was just 'boom, boom' and then I got down into the dugout and I fell down. I thought it was broken. The pain was bad. I wanted to throw up, but I took the X-ray and there was no break on there and hopefully there isn't. I'm going to be really optimistic about it right now, and I think it's one of those things where [in] 24 hours, you have a much better idea."

Bergesen, who said he thought for sure that his shin "snapped and cracked," added, "I think I'm lucky that I got hit and not two more runs scored, so we'll see what happens."

With the victory, Bergesen, 23, improved his record to 7-5 overall and 7-1 at home. He carried a shutout bid into the seventh inning before it was broken up on David DeJesus' opposite-field single. He allowed one run on seven hits and two walks while striking out six over seven innings.

Continuing his emergence as a solid American League Rookie of the Year candidate, Bergesen has pitched six or more innings in each of 12 straight starts. He has quality starts in 11 of his past 12 outings and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 14 of 19 starts.

"We've become accustomed to him throwing six, seven innings and giving us a chance to win every single game, which is really remarkable for a young guy," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "He's kind of taken over that leadership role on the staff where it's, 'I'm going to go out and give you six or seven solid innings, maybe even nine innings.' It's just unfortunate. Those things happen in this game. You just hate to see it. You hope that it's something minor and he's not missing too much time."

The Orioles (44-57) combined Bergesen's quality outing with a 12-hit performance to salvage a four-game split with the lowly Royals. Third baseman Ty Wigginton put the Orioles on the board with a solo homer in the second inning, and the home team then broke the game open, scoring four times in the fifth off Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Nick Markakis drove in a run with an infield single that shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt couldn't handle. Aubrey Huff followed with a bases-clearing, three-run double that gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead. Huff went 5-for-17 in the four-game series after going 5-for-34 on the preceding road trip.

The Orioles tacked on two more runs in the sixth on an RBI double from Brian Roberts and a run-scoring single from outfielder Felix Pie.

"We got solid starting pitching, and we got timely hitting and we played very well in the field, and that translates into winning the ballgame," Trembley said.

Now the Orioles await word on the health of Bergesen, who left the clubhouse Thursday afternoon on crutches.

"It was definitely a loud noise that came off his leg," Wieters said. "It was real scary. I think the first reports out aren't terrible news. Hopefully, it will just be a bruise, he'll be sore tomorrow, and he'll be back soon."

Box score

for Thursday's game PG 4

RED SOX @ORIOLES

Tonight, 7:05

TV: MASN HD

Radio: 105.7 FM

INSIDE

Who will close? PG 5

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