Tagged: Jason Berken

Orioles Seem To Have Stranglehold On 5th Place

As spring training camps open it is time to look at the American League East competition for the New York Yankees. How will the other teams fare as they gear up to dethrone the 2011 division champions? Do these teams have the pitching? Is there enough offense? Let’s see.


The 2011 season began with a lot of optimism because of the great job Buck Showalter did in turning around the Orioles at the end of the 2010 season.

But 2011 was much like every season for the Orioles since 1999. It fizzled into frustration in a hurry. They finished with a record of 69-93 and they were a distant fifth in the A.L. East, 28 games behind the Yankees.

This coming season promises to pretty similar because the Orioles have not made a lot of changes to their roster. With the exeption of Jeremy Guthrie, Luke Scott and Derrek Lee, this pretty much the same group that floundered through much of 2011.


One big reason is that the Orioles banked their future hopes on a collection of young starting pitchers like Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman. They progressed through the minors but none of them have established themselves as major-league quality starters. And if you want to compete in this division, you have to have good starting pitching.

The Orioles compounded that issue by trading their best starting pitcher, Guthrie, to the Colorado Rockies for starter Jason Hammel and reliever Matt Lindstrom. As a result, the Orioles’ “ace” is former Rangers right-hander Tommy Hunter, who was 4-4 with a 4.68 ERA in an injury-shortened season.

The Orioles, led by general manager Dan Duquette, are now shifting their sites overseas and the team signed two pitchers from the Japanese League in Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada.

Chen, 26, is a left-hander from Taiwan who has compiled a 36-30 record and a 2.48 ERA in four seasons with the Chunichi Dragons. He also has pretty good stuff with 500 career strikeouts in 631 1/3 innings.

Wada, 30, is another left-hander and he has overcome two injury-plagued seasons to compile a combined 33-13 record with a 2.29 ERA in the last two seasons with Fukuoda Softbank Hawks. While Chen has better stuff, Wada is considered to have better control.

Both figure prominently in the Orioles plans for 2012 and both likely will be in the rotation this season, depending on how they progress in the spring.

Hammel, 29, was 7-13 with a 4.76 ERA last season with the Rockies. The tall right-hander figures to be slotted as the No. 4 starter.

The Orioles still have high hopes for Matusz, Britton, Arrieta and Tillman. But it appears Britton and Arrieta are going to get most of the attention this spring. The lefty Britton suffered a shoulder injury last season and he finished the season 11-11 with a 4.61 ERA. Arrieta was 10-8 with 5.05 ERA.


The bullpen was a strength of this team when Koji Uehara was around but he was dealt to the Rangers at the trade deadline last July.

The closer job is up for grabs between incumbent closer Kevin Gregg, who saved 22 games but blew seven chances and was 0-3 with a 4.37 ERA, and Jim Johnson, who saved nine games and was 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA. Lindtsrom, who saved 23 games for the Astros in 2010, can also be shifted into the closer role.

The rest of the bullpen will likely be made up with lefty Darren O’Day and former starters Alfredo Simon, Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken.


A few years ago, the Orioles seem to invested their future into second baseman Brian Roberts, right-fielder Nick Markakis and center-fielder Adam Jones and have built around those players.

Unfortunately, Roberts has suffered through injury after injury and Markakis and Jones have underperformed expectations.

With the Orioles lack of ability to attract high-priced free-agent talent, the Orioles have to rely on that trio as the core of the team again.

The Orioles may also begin getting what they expected out of catcher Matt Wieters, who hit 22 home runs and won a Gold Glove for his defensive work behind the plate. The former No. 1 pick also is showing some signs of leadership on the team.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy finally shook off injuries that plagued him since he was with the Brewers in 2008 as he hit 30 home runs and drove in 80 runs.

Third baseman Mark Reynolds was pretty much as advertised. He did not hit for average and struck out 196 times but he also hit 37 home runs and drove in 87 runs.

Former Rangers first baseman Chris Davis is pretty much a carbon copy of Reynolds at first base only he does most of his striking out from the left side.

The Orioles will likely platoon veterans Endy Chavez and Nolan Reimold in the outfield and look for the Orioles to make a late bid for a DH.

They could re-sign veteran Vladimir Guerrero or chose from among Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui to replace Scott.


Former Yankee Wilson Betemit will be the top reserve on the infield and middle infield reserve Robert Andino will return to provide glovework behind Roberts and Hardy. Former Rangers backstop Taylor Teagarden will be the backup to Wieters.

The Orioles could use the spring to look for some veteran help in the outfield to bolster their bench a bit.


With Jones, Wieters, Hardy, Reynolds and Davis the Orioles seem to have plenty of firepower. Plus when Roberts is healthy and Markakis is going good, they can get on base and steal a base or two. But the overall offense may be too geared towards power over putting the ball iin play and advancing runners.

The Orioles, as a team, strike out way too much and it cost them because their pitching is not that strong.

The Orioles are gambling on two Japanese League pitchers and two journeyman American starters (Hunter and Hammel) to give them time to develop their young pitchers like Britton and Arrieta. The jury is still out on Matusz, who looked like a surefire star in the making in 2010.

Without a consistent starting rotation, any effort Showalter makes in the bullpen could prove futile. A good bullpen only limits the damage. The bullpen should be strong but it is obvious they are going to tire quickly if they are constantly coming in the fourth or fifth inning.

Barring another Showalter miracle, this team is headed for more frustration in 2012. They simply can’t compete with the big boys (Yankees, Rays, Red Sox) and they merely hold their own against the Blue Jays. If I were a betting man, I would suspect that the Orioles will finish fifth again.

It is a spot for which they are built.




Yankees Score 3 Runs In 11th To Storm Past Orioles

YANKEES 6, ORIOLES 3 (11 Innings)
Denied an early 3-2 victory, the Yankees went to work in the 11th inning after a 40-minute rain delay and scored three runs on infield singles to defeat the Orioles on Sunday.
Russell Martin scored Robinson Cano from third on an infield single and Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson — taking advantage of two Oriole errors — followed with RBI infield singles of their own to give the Yankees a sweep of their rain-shortened two-game series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Boone Logan (1-1), who retired all four batters he faced, got credit for the victory. Jason Berken (0-1) took the loss.
Both teams had runners thrown out at the plate that could have won the game had they scored. The Orioles tied the game off Marinao Rivera in the ninth on a Brian Roberts double to score Adam Jones. However, on the same play, pinch-runner Robert Andino was cut down at the plate on a throw from Nick Swisher to Cano to Martin.
In the 10th inning, the Yankees had Jeter on third and Granderson on first with one out when Alex Rodriguez sent a fly ball to Jones in center. Jones caught the ball and fired the ball high to catcher Matt Wieters. But Wieters blocked the plate and tagged Jeter to keep the score tied.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 12-6 and they have a three-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the American League East. The Orioles are now 0-4 on the season against the Yankees and they are 8-12 overall, five games out in last place in the division.
  • The bullpen’s blown save ruined what was another excellent pitching performance by starter Freddy Garcia. Garcia blanked the Orioles on two hits and two walks and seven strikeouts over six innings. Garcia has opened the season with 12 shutout innings in his first two starts.
  • Jeter seemed to break out of his funk on Sunday with a 4-for-6 game. He scored a run and drove in one and he raised his season average to .257.
  • Granderson extended his hitting streak to eight games and he was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Granderson is hitting .292 on the season.
  • Cano extended his hitting streak to 13 games the hard way. He was 0-for-4 in the first nine innings but battled reliever Jeremy Accardo to a 3-2 count when the game was delayed in the 11th by rain. He then came back to foul off the first six pitches off reliever Jason Berken before lacing a leadoff double to right. Wieters attempted to throw him out at second. But Cano took off for third and stole his first base of season to get to third with no outs. It set up the winning run.
  • Swisher’s throw and Cano’s relay to Martin to nail Andino was a very good defensive play. However, Brett Gardner made the catch of they day in the eighth inning. With runners on first and third and two out and Luke Scott facing Rivera, Scott lifted a fly ball that Gardner had to race back into deep left to catch over his shoulder. The catch prevented both the tie and winning runs from scoring.
  • In his last two appearances, Rivera has blown saves. In his last 2 1/3 innings, he has given up six hits, two walks and three runs. He had been perfect in his previous seven saves chances this season.
  • Joba Chamberlain did not help the cause by getting tagged by a one-out, two-run home run by Mark Reynolds in the seventh inning. Reynolds entered the game hitting .177 and he had only one home run on the season.
  • Despite the great catch, Gardner resorted back to form with an 0-for-5 day at the plate with four strikeouts. Gardner went out of the strike zone to get himself out swinging in the ninth and 11th innings. He is now hitting .140.
  • Swisher also took an 0-for-5 collar and he was 0-for-9 in the series. Swisher is also 0 for his last 10. His average has dropped to .234.
If you were scratching your head why Rafael Soriano was not used in the eighth inning or to pitch in extra innings on Sunday, fear not. Soriano apparently felt stiffness in his back on Saturday and he was told rest it on Sunday. Soriano said he believes he will be available to pitch on Monday and he does not consider the injury serious.  . . .  Manager Joe Girardi said he did not expect any repercussions from a ninth-inning incident on Saturday when Oriole reliever Josh Rupe hit Martin in the upper back after Martin had hit two home runs in the game. There were no incidents on Sunday. Martin was not injured and he played on Sunday. Girardi said the Yankees’ best answer to the plunking on Saturday was Gardner’s two-run homer off Rupe right after the incident.  . . .  Granderson’s home run was his seventh of the season and he has 21 since he altered his swing on Aug. 14 last season.  . . .  Francisco Cervelli, who is rehabbing a broken bone in his right foot, was 3-for-10 with Single-A Tampa and he could be activated next week.
The Yankees return to the Bronx to begin a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
The Yankees will start right-hander A.J. Burnett (3-0, 4.37 ERA), who is coming off a no-decision in a game in which Rivera blew a save and the Yankees lost to the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Burnett gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings. Burnett is 2-4 with a 5.58 ERA against the Chisox lifetime.
The White Sox will throw right-hander Phil Humber (1-2, 4.42 ERA). Humber gave up four runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday. Humber will be making his first start against the Yankees and his first start at Yankee Stadium.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

A-Rod’s 4 RBIs Give CC His 16th Victory


Yankees manager Joe Girardi is finding out that resting Alex Rodriguez for a day certainly pays big dividends in the future. 
On Wednesday night, the three-time MVP busted open a close game in the seventh and touched off a rout in the ninth as the New York Yankees won their sixth straight game and swept the Baltimore Orioles 10-2.
Rodriguez, who sat out Monday’s game against the Orioles, reached the 2,500-hit plateau with a single to center in the fifth inning off Orioles starter Jason Berken. He then added a two-run single in the seventh inning to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead and another two-run single in the ninth that touched off a seven-run frame to put the game out of reach.
“He’s been the man,” Johnny Damon told MLB.com. “We do have to pay attention and give him those days off so he can feel fresh, and when he feels fresh, you see how fast his swing is. Tonight was great.”
Of Rodriguez’s 75 RBIs this season, 36 have either tied the game or put the Yankees out in front.
“He has been really good in those situations for us, whether it’s been a game-winning home run or tying the score late,” Girardi said. “He’s been really good in those situations, and that’s what you want.”
The seven-run explosion in the ninth clinched the victory for CC Sabathia, who is the first pitcher in the major leagues to win 16 games. Though Sabathia started off shaky, he collected himself to pitch seven innings, giving up just one run on seven hits and a walk and he fanned nine batters.
“It feels good just being able to go out and help this team win,” Sabathia said. “I’ve just been pounding the strike zone and getting ahead. It has been working out.”
The Orioles, though, did have the veteran left-hander in trouble in the first two innings. In the first inning, Brian Roberts led off with a bunt single. After one out, Nolan Reimold hit a check-swing bloop single to right to move Roberts to third. Nick Markakis then lined out to left to score Roberts with the game’s first run.
The Orioles then pushed Sabathia to the wall in the second with singles by Matt Wieters, Ty Wigginton and Felix Pie. But Sabathia escaped the bases-loaded, one-out jam by striking out Roberts and Cesar Izturis.
Sabathia (16-7) then stiffened up to give up just a double to Pie in the fifth and single by Ty Wigginton in the seventh. 
Sabathia remains undefeated since July 28, a span of seven starts. He is 6-0 and has an ERA of 2.45 in those seven starts.
“He’s been really, really good for us all year long,” Girardi told MLB.com. “He’s done what we expected. He’s been a true ace for us — innings, wins, everything. He’s done everything we’ve asked.”
The Yankees got Sabathia back in the game in the third inning when Eric Hinske touched Berken for a 400-foot blast to right-center for his eighth home run of the season. Hinske had hit five home runs in his first seven games with the Yankees beginning on July 6.
But Hinske had not hit another since July 31 until Tuesday night when he connected on a solo home run in the seventh inning. So after his home run drought through August, Hinkse has now connected in two consecutive games.
Hinske also has 14 hits as a Yankee and seven are home runs.
He was in the lineup on Wednesday ostensibly to give a rest to first baseman Mark Teixeira. Hinske played right-field and Nick Swisher filled in at first for Teixeira.
The game stayed 1-1 until the Yankee half of the seventh inning. Rookie reliever Kam Mickolio walked Damon to start the inning. Swisher followed with his second opposite field bloop hit to left — this one was a double and it moved Damon to third.
Rodriguez then swatted a line single to center to score both Damon and Swisher and give the Yankees their first lead of the night.
The Orioles did pull to within a run on a Reimold solo home run with one out in the eighth inning off struggling right-hander Brian Bruney. But Phil Coke and Phil Hughes got an out apiece to shut down the Orioles to close out the eighth.
The Yankees then torched Orioles closer Jim Johnson and Dennis Sarfate in the ninth. Johnson, struggling with his control walked Derek Jeter and Swisher — sandwiched around a Damon single — to load the bases. Rodriguez then stroked a 0-2 pitch that caught the plate for a single to left to score Jeter and Damon.
After a deluge of seven hits, two walks and 12 batters made it to the plate, the Yankees had padded the 5-2 lead to 10-2 on RBI singles from Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, Jose Molina, Jeter and Damon.
Phil Hughes pitched the ninth inning and struck out the side to complete his second major-league save. Mariano Rivera, who pitched in the first two games of the series and saved both games, was unavailable to pitch on Wednesday because of a tightness in his left groin.
He was not needed, though. In the three-game sweep, the Yankees outscored the Orioles by a combined score of 24-9. The Yankees have now defeated the Orioles in 10 straight games.
“Give credit where credit is due,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said to MLB.com. “They have a tremendous team. We try to do everything we possibly can, and it just has not measured up and allowed us to get a win.”
The Yankees also were able to extend their lead in the American League East to 7 1/2 games over the second-place Red Sox, who lost 8-5 in St. Petersburg, FL to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees “magic number” for clinching the division is now 23.
“We’re not counting our blessings just yet,” Rodriguez said. “We have a long way to go, and there’s a lot of baseball to be played. But overall, our health has been good, for the most part, and we have a deep team.”

The Yankees now fly to Toronto to begin a four-game series at Rogers Centre. They will start Chad Gaudin (5-10, 4.90 ERA) in the opener Thursday night. Gaudin is starting in place of Sergio Mitre, who is nursing a bruised right forearm he sustained when he was hit by a line drive off
the bat A.J. Pierzynski on Saturday. 
Gaudin will be making his second start with the Yankees. In his first start, Gaudin pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings of one-hit ball against the Oakland A’s. He walked five batters however, and he was removed because of a high pitch count.
The Toronto Blue Jays will start young lefty Ricky Romero (11-6, 3.95 ERA). Romero allowed 13 base-runners over 5 1/3 innings but gave up three runs in a loss to the Red Sox on Saturday. In two previous starts against the Yankees, Romero is 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA.
Gametime is 7:07 p.m. EDT.