O's State Their Case

Orioles 13 Indians 4

Berken, Wieters, Pie Come Through In Rout Of Indians

August 29, 2009|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,Kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

With another difficult August coming to a close for the Orioles, and a daunting September schedule looming, there is a pertinent question that keeps popping up for the franchise as it winds down what will almost certainly be its 12th straight losing season: Just how much do these games really matter?

They certainly matter to pitcher Jason Berken, a 25-year-old right-hander with a surplus of heart but not talent. Berken knows every time he takes the mound during these final months, he's trying to convince the team he's not the pitcher who went all of June and all of July without a victory.

He labored through five innings Friday night, never once getting a 1-2-3 inning, but he pitched well enough to get the win when the Orioles' bats came alive all at once, turning on an impressive display of hitting that helped Baltimore defeat the Cleveland Indians, 13-4, in front of an announced 13,961 at Camden Yards.

"It's definitely important for me," said Berken, who won consecutive starts for the first time in his career. "I think throughout the year, I've gotten better and better, and the experience I've gotten up here has been great. I feel very fortunate for the opportunities that I've had, but now it's time for me to finish strong this last month. I think every start is important."

Games like this definitely matter to outfielder Felix Pie, who is also in a daily battle to convince the team there is a role for him on next year's squad. Starting in place of Adam Jones, who missed his fifth straight game with a sore back, Pie responded with three hits, including a towering home run in the sixth inning that nearly landed on Eutaw Street.

Pie had to leave the game in the eighth after cramping up while running to first base on his third hit of the night, a shot in the gap that reached the wall. But he hobbled into manager Dave Trembley's office after the game and declared himself available to play tonight. The team (53-76) is optimistic it won't need to make a roster move if Pie or Jones is healthy enough to start.

"I think we'll cover," Trembley said. "I think, if both of those guys can't play tomorrow, I think we'd probably have to do something. I mean, we can't play short. We'd have to do something. But right now we feel like we're going to be OK with it."

These games definitely matter to Trembley, who acknowledged Friday he was so tortured by the Orioles' blown save in the series opener Thursday, he couldn't sleep and spent the night walking the streets of Baltimore until dawn when he could get breakfast at Jimmy's Restaurant on Broadway, trying to figure out a way to cope with the disappointment.

"There was a lot of progress tonight by a lot of young guys," Trembley said. "You get beat, you lose a heartbreaker like last night, and everybody came here today real upbeat. They all felt like, 'Let's go out and get them.' "

And these games certainly seem to matter to Matt Wieters, the Orioles' promising young catcher. Lately there have been whispers of criticism, coming from both scouts and fans, suggesting that he might not live up to the hype that accompanied his arrival in Baltimore. All Wieters did Friday night against the Indians was go 3-for-3 and set a career high with four RBIs.

"It felt good tonight," Wieters said. "I was sort of able to get into a little rhythm, which I haven't had to the extent I had it tonight. There's always room for growth."

Even Luke Scott and Nick Markakis used Friday night's game as a chance to break out of slumps, both major and minor. Scott posted just his third multihit game since July 10, and Markakis had three hits, including a three-run home run in the seventh inning. He entered the game without a hit in his previous 11 at-bats, and hadn't hit a home run since Aug. 17.

Lastly, Baltimore reliever Cla Meredith put to bed one of the more bizarre, and perhaps unfortunate, streaks in baseball. Entering Friday night, the past 33 games in which Meredith had pitched, his team lost, dating to May 25, when he pitched for the San Diego Padres in a 9-7 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He gave up an earned run in his one inning of work, the sixth, but by then the Orioles had a 6-2 lead.

It was, in many respects, exactly the kind of game Baltimore needed after letting a victory slip away Thursday when closer Jim Johnson gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Indians first baseman Andy Marte in the ninth inning.

Cleveland took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Jhonny Peralta knocked in Asdrubal Cabrera. But Baltimore got the lead back the second when Wieters and Cesar Izturis both singled off Fausto Carmona with runners in scoring position.

The Orioles chased Carmona in the fourth, scoring three runs to make it 4-2 on the strength of a double by Scott, which led off the inning, a single by Wieters that brought Scott home, and a double by Pie.

Baltimore added three runs in the sixth and four in the seventh when Markakis hammered a pitch by Jess Todd onto the flag court in right field. Nolan Reimold and Markakis even added a pair of stellar defensive plays by making diving catches in the eighthand ninth innings.

"We had some very good, what I would call team at-bats tonight," Trembley said. "Some good situational hitting. We put some numbers up on the board."

Box score

for Friday's game PG 4

INDIANS @ORIOLES

Tonight, 7:05

TV: Ch. 13, MASN2

Radio: 105.7 FM

INSIDE

Bergesen might not pitch again this season PG 3

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