The Baltimore Orioles couldn’t ask for much more from rookie hurler Brad Bergesen than what he has given them in his first 18 major league starts. The right-hander sure should expect more from his teammates than what they have given back to him.
It is inevitable that every season each team will have one pitcher who goes out every start and provides a quality performance, but for some unlucky reason seems to always be out there his team forgets to bring their bats to the stadium.
In recent years, the unlucky pitcher for the Orioles has usually been Jeremy Guthrie. However, this season that distinction has fallen to the young rookie.
It didn’t start out that way as Baltimore scored 10 runs to help Bergesen defeat the White Sox in his major league debut. They scored five or more runs in nine of his first 13 starts, including 11 run outbursts against the Braves and Nationals.
Unfortunately, the tide has turned as the Orioles have scored only eight runs in his last four starts with Bergesen registering one win and three losses despite allowing a total of only 10 earned runs in those games.
His stretch of bad luck began on July 1, the day after Baltimore made an amazing 10-run rally to defeat the Boston Red Sox. Bergesen allowed only one run in eight innings and seemed poised to earn his sixth victory before Boston rallied in the ninth inning and went on to steal one away from the O’s.
Since that game, the Baltimore offense has struggled to score in games in which the rookie has taken the mound.
That was again the case Friday night against the Red Sox as Bergesen allowed three runs in six innings, but the Birds could manage only one unearned run against Brad Penny and the Boston bullpen.
It was another disappointing result for a rookie who has been a steady rock for a struggling pitching staff.
Bergesen has worked at least six innings in each of his last 11 starts while allowing more than earned three runs only once (four against Philadelphia in a game the Orioles came back to win).
For the season, Bergesen is now 6-5 with a 3.56 ERA. One reason for his success is that his strikeout total (59) is nearly double the number of walks he has allowed (30).
With highly touted rookie Chris Tillman expected to make his major league debut in the next few days, the Baltimore bats need to start coming to life to give the growing crop of young pitchers some support.
Little could help the confidence of a young pitcher more than having his offense provide some early runs and allow him to settle into a groove. That certainly was the case for Bergesen early in the season and would be helpful to Tillman and the other young hurlers as they look to gain experience at the major league level.
The long-term success of the Orioles is betting on these young pitchers taking the Birds back to the days when they could bank on a quality start every night.
If they are going to be successful, the Orioles also need to hearken back to another trait of the great Baltimore teams of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, consistent offensive production.
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