Roberts Claims Battle Vs. Yankees' Burnett



Oriole Changes Fortunes Against Pitcher With Slam

September 13, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,

NEW YORK - -With the bases loaded and one out in the second inning, Orioles leadoff man Brian Roberts' goal was to drive A.J. Burnett's two-seam fastball into the outfield and drive in a run. His past experiences against the New York Yankees right-hander told Roberts to keep his expectations low.

"He's struck me out on that [pitch] many times," said Roberts, who entered the at-bat with 10 hits against Burnett in 39 at-bats (.256). "It was one of those where you kind of swing and you don't even realize what happened."

What happened was Roberts' fifth career grand slam and his second in a span of less than four weeks. It capped a six-run second inning off Burnett and was more than enough run support for rookie left-hander Brian Matusz in the Orioles' 7-3 victory Sunday.

It was just Burnett's second loss in 13 career starts against the Orioles.

"I've faced A.J. quite a bit with him being in Toronto for several years and him now being in New York. At times, it is a guessing game, what he's going to try to do," said Roberts, who has seven RBIs over the past two games and 73 for the season, tying his career high. "It's not like he's going to show you something [that] he's never shown you before. It's just a matter of which one it's going to be. I didn't necessarily want to get to 1-2 with the bases loaded and to be behind in the count with his kind of stuff, but I was fortunate enough to get a pitch that I could get a barrel on it."

Roberts' drive soared over the right-center-field wall for his 15th homer of the season. It was part of a 3-for-4 day for Roberts, who also hit his league-leading 51st double of the season in the fifth inning. That ties his career high and the Orioles' franchise high, which Roberts set last year.

On second thought

The uncertainty surrounding Felix Pie's back has the Orioles pondering reinstating outfielder Lou Montanez from the 60-day disabled list. To make room for Montanez on the 40-man roster, the Orioles could transfer Koji Uehara, who won't pitch again this season, from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.

"I did talk to [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] about that last night," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Saturday. "We probably will discuss that now that we know Pie is not available today and is iffy [for Sunday]. The possibility does exist that we could add an outfielder."

Montanez hasn't played since May 22 after having surgery on his right thumb. He did get some at-bats in rehabilitation games in the minors, but team officials didn't think it was smart to put him against major league pitching after such a long absence. However, Pie's status could force their hand.

Pie was forced out of Friday's game because of back spasms, and he wasn't available to play Saturday, leaving the Orioles with no outfielders on their bench. Jeff Fiorentino started in center field, and Robert Andino, who started at shortstop, was the emergency outfielder.

"I don't feel like I'm OK to play, but I'm feeling better," Pie said. "I can't tell you how long it will be. When I try to swing, it hurts a little bit. We'll see how I feel tomorrow."

Turner's special morning

It was 1:17 in the morning on Saturday when Orioles rookie infielder Justin Turner lined a single into center field off Yankees reliever Michael Dunn for his first major league hit. By that time, all but two Yankees regulars had been removed from the game and very few fans were still in the crowd after two rain delays totaling two hours, 34 minutes.

But the important thing to Turner was that his parents, sister, grandmother, aunt and several family friends, who were in from California, had braved the delays and got to see his big moment.

"It didn't matter to me," Turner said of the circumstances. "I'm still never going to forget it for the rest of my life. Nobody can ever take it away from me."

Around the horn

Third baseman Melvin Mora was held out of the lineup a day after getting hit in the right elbow by a pitch from Andy Pettitte. With his next start at third base, Mora will pass Doug DeCinces and move into second place in games played at third for the Orioles. Mora has played 793 games at third. Brooks Robinson holds the franchise record with 2,870 games played at third. ... Nolan Reimold's solo homer in the second inning ended the Orioles' 42 2/3 -inning stretch without a home run. Before that, the Orioles' last homer came in the third inning Sept. 5, also hit by Reimold off the Texas Rangers' Kevin Millwood.

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