Bergesen rocked, bats stifled in loss

Mariners 8, Orioles 2

Starter gives up 7 runs in 2 2/3 innings, gets sent to minors after game

  • Orioles starter Brad Bergesen wipes his brow after giving up a two-run homer to Casey Kotchman in the host Mariners' seven-run third inning. Bergesen went just 2 2/3 innings, the shortest start of his major league career.
Orioles starter Brad Bergesen wipes his brow after giving up… (Associated Press photo…)
April 20, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SEATTLE — Brad Bergesen tugged repeatedly at his hat, gestured with his arm, stared into the dugout and stomped around the pitching mound as if he were punishing himself.

The pitcher who impressed teammates with his poise and command for much of last season, was nowhere to be found for the third straight start, and the Orioles have apparently grown tired of waiting for him to show up.

Bergesen was pounded by the Seattle Mariners for seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings, and the Orioles resumed their losing ways with an 8-2 defeat in front of an announced 14,528 on Monday night at Safeco Field.

"I think he's searching, to be honest with you," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I think he's trying to find a comfortable arm slot, I think he's trying to get the ball down. He's just not able to do it. I see him walking around, taking a lot of time in between pitches. Sometimes he's rushing so bad, he's trying to be so quick, looking at the runners. He's just not in a real good groove at all."

After the Orioles' 12th loss in 14 games, Trembley acknowledged that he and pitching coach Rick Kranitz had to discuss Bergesen's future in the rotation. The two then met with Bergesen behind closed doors in Trembley's office and informed the Orioles' best starter for much of last season that he will make his next outing for Triple-A Norfolk.

With a day off Thursday, the Orioles can afford to skip Bergesen's next turn and go with four starters for the time being. The club will recall left-handed reliever Alberto Castillo from Norfolk to replace Bergesen on the active roster. Castillo has appeared in five games for the Tides this season, allowing three runs on six hits and one walk while striking out five in 4 2/3 innings (5.79 ERA).

Trailing 7-0 after the bottom of the third Monday night, the only drama left was whether the Orioles could actually get a hit against Seattle starter Doug Fister. Nick Markakis answered that question and ended Fister's no-hit bid by leading off the seventh with a sharp single up the middle.

Three batters later, Luke Scott ended his shutout bid with an RBI double, but Fister settled for allowing one run and three hits over seven innings, becoming the latest opposing starter to dominate a punchless Orioles lineup.

The Orioles did get another homer from Ty Wigginton, but they were held to three runs or fewer for the eighth time in the past 10 games.

"He came after us," Markakis said of Fister. "He established his fastball. He used both sides of the plate. He had good movement on his ball today. You have to tip your hat to him. He threw a great game."

Only four of Bergesen's runs were earned as third baseman Wigginton botched a potential double-play ball that could have gotten the second-year pitcher out of the third inning having allowed just one run. Instead, Bergesen allowed seven runs in the frame and was finally driven from the game with two outs in the inning when Casey Kotchman launched a two-run homer.

"I'm trying everything right now," Bergesen said. "I think the two previous starts, I started getting a little too slow, so I came in with a lot of confidence, wanted to work fast, wanted to be upbeat today, trying to get our team going, and I just wasn't able to do that.

"I have not gotten into the sequencing that I need to do to be successful in this league. I keep saying it, but hopefully it'll click and I'll get it for the next outing. It's tough for everyone and extremely tough for me. I care so much about this team. To not chew up innings and put that workload on the bullpen, it just absolutely kills me right now."

Bergesen fell to 0-2 with a 12.19 ERA, and he has allowed 14 earned runs, 21 hits and six walks in 10 1/3 innings. While Monday night was the shortest start of his career, he has failed to get through five complete innings in all three of his starts this season.

En route to a 7-5 record and a 3.43 ERA last year in his rookie season, Bergesen gave up more than four earned runs only twice in 19 starts and failed to make it through at least 5 2/3 innings just once during that span.

"It's just been kind of the story of my season so far," Bergesen said. "Looking for that break and I haven't found it, and right now, it just seems that when it goes, it goes for me, but every start I'm mentally and physically preparing as much as I possibly can, and I'm going to continue to do so. I'm going to turn it around here pretty soon."

Apparently, he'll have to do that in Triple-A.

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