Bergesen leaving disastrous start to 2010 behind him

May 12, 2010 | Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — On the same day the Orioles sent struggling outfielder Nolan Reimold to the minor leagues in hopes of regaining his confidence, the club once again reaped the benefits of Brad Bergesen’s short stint with the Tides.

The right-hander coaxed ground ball after ground ball—16 in all—from the Seattle bats as the Orioles defeated the Seattle Mariners, 5-2, and secured their 10th win of the season. Bergesen pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing only one run and striking out three to earn his third win of the season, all coming after returning from a brief demotion to the minor leagues last month.

In his three starts since being recalled on May 1, Bergesen has pitched to a 2.33 ERA (19 2/3 innings) while primarily using his sinking fastball in lieu of his breaking pitches, something on which he focused during his stint at Triple A. He has looked far more like the pitcher who went 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA as a rookie in 2009 than the fragile pitcher losing control of his emotions as he sprinted off the Safeco Field mound with a 12.19 ERA on April 19.

“He had better sink [on his fastball], excellent poise,” manager Dave Trembley said. “Boy, he pitched a heck of a game, really did. Much needed, for him and for us. [He] really was in command of the game.”

If there were ever a player for Reimold to pay attention to right now, it’s Bergesen and his quick turnaround after looking miserable at the beginning of the season. The young pitcher could have easily sulked after being sent down, but Bergesen accepted the demotion, acknowledging a need to make the necessary adjustments to the big-league level.

“That break [in the minors] helped me out a lot, just to kind of—not unwind or relax—but just kind of re-find myself,” said Bergesen, who acknowledged picking up some bad habits in his mechanics after injuring his shoulder filming a MASN commercial in the off-season.

It’s clear the last eight months had been cruel to the 24-year-old starter, beginning with the wicked line drive to the shin that ended his rookie season and hitting rock bottom as he ran off the mound in Seattle just over three weeks ago. However, Bergesen is starting to look very much like the pitcher who so pleasantly surprised us last season.

His resurrection is exactly what the Orioles hoped for, but now they’ll have to wait—and hope—for a similar result with Reimold.

Are you paying attention?

The organization had to have grabbed the attention of outfielders Luke Scott and Adam Jones with their roster move Wednesday afternoon, and it reflected in the struggling hitters’ performances—for one night anyway.

Scott hit his fifth home run of the season, a solo blast in the fourth, and also collected a double to contribute to the Baltimore victory. The veteran power hitter entered the game hitting .186, mired in one of the worst slumps of his career.

“I feel much better about my swing,” Scott said. “I’ve been working hard with [Terry Crowley] for the last 10 days. It started in New York. We started taking extra batting practice, looking at film together, and getting to where I need to flatten out my swing a little bit. Get into a little rhythm when I’m up there at the plate.”

Jones, hitting .230 entering Wednesday night, collected three hits and drove in his eighth run of the season. With the club bringing Corey Patterson back to Baltimore, it now has another option in center field if Jones continues to struggle.

Is it a coincidence that both players’ bats awoke on Wednesday night? Maybe, but they each should be aware of the possibility of a demotion if things don’t improve soon.

Welcome back, Corey

After hitting .368 with Triple-A Norfolk, Patterson’s contract was selected to replace Reimold on the 25-man roster. While Orioles fans are familiar with Patterson’s limitations, including a career .290 on-base percentage, he immediately becomes the lone stolen base threat in the lineup with Brian Roberts now shifting to the 60-day disabled list.

Patterson singled to right in the third inning, his first hit with the Orioles since Sept. 5, 2007. The 30-year-old speedster led off and played left field, going 1-for-5 with a run scored.

Four is the score (five’s good too)

The Orioles improved to 8-4 when scoring four or more runs. While we’ve all witnessed how horrible the struggle has been at the plate, it’s staggering to think the club has only scored that many runs in 12 of their 34 games.

Baltimore also went 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position and saw every player in the starting lineup collect a hit except Cesar Izturis, who had a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

“We had early hitting again today, and we’re probably going to continue to have early hitting everyday until we can get everybody where they should be,” Trembley said. “It seemed like guys were a little more relaxed today.”

Check out the final box score here and the pre-game notes below.

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BALTIMORE — Good evening from a rainy Oriole Park at Camden Yards as we await the start of tonight’s game between the Orioles (9-24) and the Seattle Mariners (13-19) at 7:05 p.m.

Ken Griffey Jr. and his napping tendencies may have created the buzz around the ballpark yesterday, but another left-handed outfielder has seized the news today as Corey Patterson’s contract has been purchased from Triple-A Norfolk. If you subscribe to the WNST Text Service, you received the news just before 4:00 p.m.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

Seattle
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Chone Figgins
1B Casey Kotchman
DH Jose Lopez
3B Matt Tuiasosopo
CF Ryan Langerhans
SS Josh Wilson
C Adam Moore
LF Michael Saunders

SP Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-2, 6.21 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Corey Patterson
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
2B Ty Wigginton
C Matt Wieters
DH Luke Scott
1B Garrett Atkins
SS Cesar Izturis

SP Brad Bergesen (2-2, 7.36 ERA)

While Patterson’s promotion comes as no surprise (the former Oriole was hitting .368 for the Tides), the demotion of left fielder Nolan Reimold may have raised a few eyebrows—until Tuesday night anyway.

Reimold was clearly disheartened in the Baltimore clubhouse following the series-opening 5-1 loss to Seattle, and manager Dave Trembley’s post-game comments suggested it was clear Reimold’s days in Baltimore were numbered, at least in the short term.

Patterson returns to the Orioles for a second stint after playing center field in Baltimore in 2006-2007. He is scheduled to bat leadoff and play left field, but as of 5:15 p.m., he hasn’t arrived at the ballpark. (Update: Patterson is at the ballpark and will remain in the lineup.)

Needing to clear room on the 40-man roster for Patterson, the Orioles moved second baseman Brian Roberts to the 60-day disabled list. Roberts’ status has clearly been a depressing topic of discussion around these parts, but the decision to shift him to the 60-day was not surprising considering he hasn’t resumed baseball activity since leaving the home opener with an injury on April 9.

Based on his current activity and the likely need for the infielder to go on an extended minor league rehab assignment, Roberts likely wouldn’t return until just before the All-Star break. Of course, that’s a best-case scenario at this point in time.

Don’t forget to join us in the Orange Crush chat tonight at 7:00 p.m., as an array of WNST personalities will discuss tonight’s action from Camden Yards.

As always, remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and quips about tonight’s game.

Check back right here for updates (time-stamped below) leading right up to first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

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6:58 p.m. — It was just announced in the press box that tonight’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:25 p.m. The tarp is still covering the field, however, so we’ll see.

6:50 p.m. — We’d all love to be excited about the return of Patterson to Baltimore, but his career .290 on-base percentage doesn’t make him a strong candidate to solve the Orioles’ problems in the leadoff spot.

Patterson may have been hitting .368 with Triple-A Norfolk, but we’re all too familiar with his limitations in these parts. However, Patterson does bring the element of speed and strong defensive skills to a team severely lacking in both departments.

The outfielder stole 82 bases in his two seasons in Baltimore, so he becomes an immediate threat on the bases for a team ranking last in the AL in stolen bases. The tools have always been there for the 30-year-old, but his biggest problem has always been figuring out a way to steal first base.

If you’re wondering what happened to Patterson after departing the Orioles following the 2007 season, he hit .205 with Cincinnati in 2008 and played a total of 16 games with Washington and Milwaukee in 2009. It’s clear Patterson would love to find the success—albeit moderate—he enjoyed during his two-year stay in Baltimore. Otherwise, this could very well be his swan song at the big-league level.

6:20 p.m. — The rain is still falling as the tarp continues to cover the infield. With the Weather.com forecast calling for a 100 percent chance of rain at 7:00 p.m., tonight’s start will likely be delayed.

The forecast gradually improves as the night goes on, so we’ll see.

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