Sunday, April 26, 2009

O's-Rangers, Berg Taken Deep But The Bats Pick Him Up

After a couple of one-run losses to the Rangers, the O's send Brad Bergesen to the hill. Berg was good in his first start, but Texas likes to hit - and they especially like to hit the fastball - so he'll really have to hit his spots and keep the ball down. Berg's success in this game may come down to how well he can utilize his slider.

The O's are an AL worst 2-8 in their last 10 games, and despite the top of the order hitting very well thus far, they're only about average as an offense (.339 wOBA as a team; 1 run above average). The pitching staff has been bad (5.60 FIP - which is actually only the third worst in the league), but it's almost entirely due to their horrible 1.88 HR/9. Their 7.12 K/9 is fourth best, and their 3.36 BB/9 is fifth. There is some hope that once their HR/FB (13.8%) regresses towards the mean a little, the team's pitching staff will be good enough to keep them in games more often than not.

Top 1:
  • Ian Kinsler launches the first pitch of the game high and deep to left-field. Luckily it goes just foul - a long strike one. Berg takes advantage and gets him swinging on a tailing fastball down and away.
  • David Murphy grounds out to second.
  • And Berg gets Michael Young swinging.
  • Pretty good first inning, I would say. For a guy with a 4.38 K/9 at Double-A last year, Bergesen has shown some ability to get strike-outs at the major league level.
Bottom 1:
  • Brian Roberts pulls the first pitch through the right side for a lead-off single.
  • Adam Jones bloops the first pitch he sees into short left-field. Murphy doesn't get to it in-time and Jones gets in to second as Roberts hustles over to third.
  • Nick Markakis swings at the first pitch and hits a deep flyball to left. This one is caught, and Roberts comes in to score, but Jones is thrown out trying to advance to third.
  • Aubrey Huff grounds back to the mound to end the inning.
Top 2:
  • Hank Blalock flies out to center.
  • Marlon Byrd doubles just fair down the right-field line.
  • Nelson Cruz strikes out swinging on a nice slider down in the zone.
  • Chris Davis gives the Rangers a 2-1 lead with a home run to dead center-field.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia singles to right.
  • Elvis Andrus hits a line-drive to right, but Markakis is there to make the catch.
Bottom 2:
  • Chad Moeller draws a two-out walk.
  • Felix Pie follows it up with a single to right.
  • Cesar Izturis flies out to left to end the inning.
Top 3:
  • Kinsler grounds out to second.
  • Murphy works the count well again, and this time ends up with a walk.
  • Young grounds a tailor-made double play ball to short, but Izturis doesn't glove it nd everybody's safe.
  • Blalock grounds to first, with Huff making the throw to second to get the force. It was hit too slowly and Huff was playing too deep to turn two.
  • Byrd grounds out to third. Despite the error, Bergesen is able to get out of it without any damage.
Bottom 3:
  • Roberts his a slow roller back to the pitcher.
  • Jones doubles into the left-field corner.
  • Markakis can't check his swing on a high fastball and he goes back to the dugout.
  • Huff grounds out to second to end the inning.
Top 4:
  • Cruz grounds out to second.
  • Davis lines out to left.
  • Salty lines one into right-center, but Jones is able to cut it off and keep him to a single.
  • Andurs follows suit.
  • Kinsler grounds to third, with Wigginton's throw just beating a sliding Andrus at second.
Bottom 4:
  • Wigginton flies out to right.
  • Salty can't come up with a Scott pop-up in foul territory, and Luke takes advantage of the extra chance and draws a walk.
  • Moeller flies out to right.
  • Nice at bat by Pie, refusing to chase pitches out of the zone and drawing a walk.
  • Izturis with a single to short left, but Scott gets thrown out easily at home. Have to question the decision to send him a little, as Murphy got to the ball quickly, Scott had a bad jump, and the top of the order was coming up. Oh well; still 2-1 Texas.
Top 5:
  • Murphy homers to left-center to start the fifth. It looked like a routine flyball, but it just kept carrying.
  • Young doubles to left-center.
  • Blalock homers into the O's bullpen. 5-1, Rangers.
  • Back-to-back infield hits on groundballs to third. Wigginton made a bad throw on the first one and a nice diving stop on the second one, though both batters were safe.
  • That'll be it for Bergesen with Baez coming in. Berg's line doesn't look good (4 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 3 HR), but he pitched pretty well I'd say.
  • Davis can't hold up on a high fastball and Baez gets his first strike-out.
  • Nice running catch by Pie in left to retire Saltalamacchia.
  • Wigginton can't handle a grounder to third, and the bases are loaded on the error.
  • Kinsler grounds out to short to leave them stranded.
Bottom 5:
  • Brian Roberts deep and gone over the scoreboard. The ball is flying.
  • Jones grounds out to second.
  • Markakis lines a high fastball into right for a single.
  • Huff pulls a single through the right side, but Cruz overthrows the cut-off man. The two-base error lets Nick score and Aubrey take second.
  • Wigginton flies out to center.
  • Scott doubles to deep left-center to score Huff, and the lead is cut to 5-4.
  • Moeller can't bring them all the way back though, as he flies out to end the inning.
Top 6:
  • Nice 1-2-3 inning for Baez, getting a couple of grounders and a strike-out.
Bottom 6:
  • Jason Jennings in for the Rangers on the mound.
  • Pie tries to bunt for a hit, but he doesn't lay down a very good one and Jennings is able to throw him out.
  • Izturis gets hit in the foot with a breaking-ball and hops down to first-base.
  • Hit-and-run on, with Roberts shooting the ball through the hole between short and third. Two on with one out.
  • Adam Jones goes out and hooks one into deep left-field. The ball is carrying well today, and it goes just over the fence for a three-run home run. O's take the lead, 7-5.
  • Markakis draws a five-pitch walk.
  • Huff grounds into an inning-ending double play.
Top 7:
  • Byrd with a soft liner up the middle that Izturis ranges over to get.
  • Cruz grounds to short. Izturis' throw is off-line, but Huff makes a nice dive to catch it while keeping his foot on the bag just long enough to get the out.
  • Baez throws a fastball by Davis for his third K. Three perfect innings from Danys out of the pen have been huge for the O's today.
Bottom 7:
  • Moeller lines a two-out single into left-center.
  • Pie flies out to end the inning.
Top 8:
  • Jim Johnson in for the eighth.
  • Salty flies out to left.
  • Wicked curveball on the inside corner gets pinch-hitter Josh Hamilton looking.
  • Kinsler pops out behind the plate. Easy inning for JJ.
Bottom 8:
  • Izturis grounds out to second.
  • Roberts singles to left. That's his fourth hit of the day.
  • And he erases himself getting caught attempting to steal second.
  • Jones draws a walk. Eddie Guardado coming in to face Markakis.
  • Adam steals second, and it comes in handy as Nick singles to right to drive in the run. 8-5, O's.
  • Huff flies to right for the third out.
Top 9:
  • George Sherrill in for the save.
  • Andruw Jones pinch-hits for Murphy. He doubles just out of the reach of Pie's glove in left.
  • Young grounds out to third, with Huff coming off the bag at first to get Wigginton's errant throw and tagging the runner as he went by.
  • Blalock pops out.
  • Byrd with a flyball to left - Markakis is there and makes the catch.
O's comeback to win this one 8-5, with the top of the line-up (Roberts-Jones-Markakis) going 9-12, with 2 BB, 2 HR, 6 RBI, and 6 R. Everyone got a hit except for Wigginton, who took another 0-fer and dropped his average to .227.

Brad Bergesen pitched pretty well, but his pitches - namely the two-seam fastball and slider, which are the ones he sues most - look pretty similar and Berg doesn't mix them well enough to fool hitters multiple times through the line-up. He needs to mix in his change-up more and use his four-seamer to change the batter's eye level. Personally speaking, Bergesen is kind of boring to watch; though I'd gladly take that over the kind of excitement a pitcher like Daniel Cabrera used to provide.

And Danyz Baez continued his resurgence out of the pen, striking out 3 in 3 perfect innings to bring the totals to 10 K's in 10.1 IP and a 3.48 ERA. Not quite worth his salary, but it's better than the 6.44 ERA he gave the team in '07.

The O's bring their record to 9-10, and will work for the split in this four game series against Texas tomorrow with Jeremy Guthrie on the hill.

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