Pie Keeps Power On

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

Outfielder Homers For 4th Time In Past Seven Games

August 31, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec and Dean Jones Jr. | Jeff Zrebiec and Dean Jones Jr.,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Orioles outfielder Felix Pie seems to be in the middle of everything for the Orioles these days, both good and bad, and Sunday was no different. In the Orioles' 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians that secured a series split, Pie delivered the key hit in the home team's four-run third inning.

After Ty Wigginton had scored on Brian Roberts' infield single and third baseman Jamey Carroll's throwing error, Pie drove Justin Masterson's 1-0 pitch over the wall in left-center field for a two-run homer.

"Pie got a big hit. It's that simple," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "We told him he was going to get the majority of playing time against right-handed pitching, and this is an opportunity for him coming down the last 35 games or so to show what he's got and then go home this winter and put it to bed and see what you've got for next year. And so far he's doing a real nice job. He's taking advantage of his opportunity."

When the Orioles acquired Pie this offseason from the Chicago Cubs, they knew they were getting a multi-tool outfielder who had never gotten an extended big league opportunity. But his power recently has been a bit of a revelation. Pie has seven home runs, four of them coming in the past seven games.

"I'm not a home run hitter, but when you have a good swing, good contact, the ball jumps from your bat," said Pie, who is 18-for-47 (.383) with five homers and 12 RBIs in a 16-game stretch that started when he hit for the cycle Aug.14. "My swing is for line drives. I'm not thinking homers, but if I hit a homer, that's OK."

Samuel takes blame

Orioles third base coach Juan Samuel took some heat from the fans when he criticized the team for its poor base running and for not taking accountability in an interview with The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. After Sunday's game, Samuel pointed the finger at himself for two of his decisions.

In the fourth inning, Samuel waved Wigginton home on Roberts' one-out single, and Wigginton was thrown out in a collision with Indians catcher Wyatt Toregas. Then, in the sixth, Samuel held up Matt Wieters at third on Cesar Izturis' one-out single to center. It appeared that Wieters, who doesn't run well, would have scored on the play. The crowd booed Samuel's decision.

"I booed myself," Samuel said. "I was 0-for-2."

As for Wigginton's collision at home with Toregas, Trembley said: "He was a runaway freight train is what he was. ... It wasn't very pretty."

Proceeding with caution

Trembley noticed rookie pitcher Chris Tillman's slower tempo on the mound Saturday, and it provided further fuel to the club's cautious approach with the four rookies who are in the rotation.

"The physical status is one thing, but that doesn't concern me as much as the mental fatigue, the wear and tear that it takes on these guys emotionally and mentally," Trembley said.

Tillman, who allowed one run and six hits in five innings, said after the game that he "just felt so drained."

Bass still working

Despite struggling in August, long reliever Brian Bass remains upbeat after making slight adjustments to his mechanics in recent bullpen sessions with pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

"I went through a stretch where my front side was all out of whack. My stuff was the same. I just wasn't hitting the plate like I should," Bass said. "We threw three bullpens ... and I threw a lot more quality strikes [Saturday] night."

In nine games this month, Bass is 0-1 with an 8.27 ERA. Overall, he's 5-3 with a 5.00 ERA in 75 2/3 innings this season.

"I'd like to lead the league" in innings, Bass said. "That shows a lot about doing the job. Eating up innings is what the job requires."

Around the horn

Roberts was in a 1-for-20 slump before hitting two singles Sunday. ... Wieters extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the sixth inning, and Nolan Reimold walked in the third to reach base safely in his 17th straight game. ... First base coach John Shelby was away from the team after a death in his family.

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