Three weeks earlier against this same Seattle Mariners team, Orioles starter Brad Bergesen had the worst start of his young career and then was called to the manager's office after the game and told he was being sent to the minor leagues.
The news hit Bergesen hard, but before he left Dave Trembley's office April 19, he said to his manager, "I'm going to go down there and get things worked out."
The Orioles couldn't have imagined it would happen so quickly. Bergesen won his third straight start since rejoining the rotation, taking a shutout bid into the eighth inning in the Orioles' eventual 5-2 victory over the Mariners before an announced 11,448 who braved a persistent rain at Camden Yards, and a 24-minute delay to start the game.
Bergesen's performance and offensive contributions from some of the struggling members of the lineup helped the Orioles (10-24) break a three-game losing streak and beat the Mariners (13-20) for the first time in five tries this season. They'll try to win the series this afternoon as veteran Kevin Millwood and Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will duel.
"I hope Bergesen keeps pitching like that because I thought the last time he pitched was the best I've seen him, but I have to take it back," Trembley said. "Tonight was better. He had better sink, excellent poise, and he pitched a heck of a game. Much needed, for him and for us. He really was in command of the game."
In three starts since returning to the Orioles' rotation, Bergesen is 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA and has allowed 18 hits and walked four in 19 1/3 innings. Bergesen (3-2) has lowered his ERA from 12.19 to 5.76 since returning from Triple-A Norfolk, a minor league stint that team officials felt was necessary after he was tattooed by Seattle for seven runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks in just 2 2/3 innings.
"That last one in Seattle before I got sent down, it was really the epitome of all the starts," Bergesen said. "To come back and get a win against that same team, it feels good."
The Orioles' offense also relished a rare productive night as it pounded out 12 hits and built a 5-0 lead in the sixth inning.
Adam Jones went 3-for-4 with an RBI; Luke Scott had two hits, including a solo homer; and Miguel Tejada drove in two runs with a third-inning double. Cesar Izturis also had an RBI, and Corey Patterson went 1-for-5 in his 2010 big league debut as the Orioles scored more than three runs for just the third time in their past 10 games.
The Orioles also knocked out Mariners starter Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-3) in the fourth inning, the shortest outing for an opposing starter against the Orioles in a non-injury situation this year.
The only negative was that team home run and RBI leader Ty Wigginton hurt his right hand when he was hit by shortstop Josh Wilson's throw while sliding into second to break up a double play in the second inning. However, Wigginton said that he was fine and "should be good to go" today when the Orioles' offense tries to build off Wednesday night's performance against the talented Hernandez.
"It's huge," said Scott, who got a rare start against a left-hander and responded by going 2-for-4. "I would say, imagine walking through the desert for many days and having a nice, cool drink of water. It feels really good. I'm very thankful for it. We did a good job as a team, Bergesen was great on the mound — had a good tempo, threw strikes, got a lot of ground-ball outs. Team-wise, personal-wise, it was a good day."
Bergesen allowed just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out three over 72/3 innings, his longest outing of the season. Chone Figgins broke up Bergesen's shutout bid with two outs in the eighth inning on a bloop single to left field that scored Ichiro Suzuki.
Figgins' single stopped Bergesen's scoreless streak at 15 1/3 innings. Koji Uehara got the final out of the eighth on Jose Lopez's fly to the wall. After Uehara allowed the first two Mariners to reach base in the ninth, Orioles closer Alfredo Simon got the final three outs to pick up his fourth save in four chances and preserve Bergesen's third victory.
"The last time we played the Mariners, I had to tell him that he was going out," Trembley said of Bergesen.
"That wasn't one of the more pleasant things you have to do, and it was an emotional night. He didn't pitch very well there, and for him to come back like he did tonight against that club and pitch the way he did, I think we'd all have to agree it's just another reason why you love Bergesen. His makeup is so tough. He's such a strong kid. He doesn't let anything get him down, and he tells you, 'Hey, I'm going to be OK.' "
Bergesen, who twice got out of jams Wednesday night by getting Wilson to hit into inning-ending double plays, said the time in the minors helped him both with his mechanics and his mind-set.
"My mechanics were off a little bit," he said.
"When I was coming back from the arm injury, I picked up a bad habit somewhere. Not sure what it was, but that break helped me out a lot. Not to unwind or relax, but to find myself. It's felt pretty close to last year. I just have to continue to work on it."