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May 14, 2011

Three encouraging performances: Bergesen, Fox and Reynolds


It’s foolish to look at one game and think that struggling players have turned around their seasons.

So we won’t go there.

But it is worth acknowledging that the three biggest contributions in Saturday night’s 6-0 win against the Tampa Bay Rays came from guys who have struggled this year: Brad Bergesen, Mark Reynolds and Jake Fox.

You could make the argument that Bergesen and Reynolds are among the bigger disappointments of this Orioles’ season. And Fox hasn’t hit in limited action after a big spring.

Bergesen, who won his first game of the year, looked shaky early. He had runners in scoring position in each of his first three innings, but no one scored. And he didn’t allow a hit after that.

Bergesen commanded his fastball better on Saturday. And he was using his changeup a whole lot to attack the strike zone.

Remember, this guy hadn’t won since last September. He had never beaten the Rays. So this has to give him some confidence.

“It was a really good feeling,” he said. “To have those couple pitches go your way, or to be able to make those crucial pitches, especially early on, and getting out of a couple jams, it is a huge momentum shift that goes in your favor. And to be able to put up zeroes after we score, it’s just the little things that make the difference.”

Then there is Fox, who had made just eight starts this season in 37 previous games, before getting the call behind the plate on Saturday. Not only did he hit a homer – his second of the season and first since April 16 – but he did it on the 10th pitch of an at-bat against Wade Davis.

He took three balls and then kept battling and fouling off pitches until he got the one he wanted.

“I got myself in a 3-0 count because I went up there looking for a specific pitch in a specific spot early and he didn’t throw it there and I found myself up 3-0. And then it became a battle because I knew he was basically going to throw me everything he had. I just kept telling myself, ‘Square it up. Square it up any way you can,’ and finally he made a mistake and I got it.”

Adam Jones was on third at the time and Fox said he was just trying to get him in. The homer chased Davis and put the Orioles into Tampa Bay’s bullpen.


“When you go up in that situation, it’s more than just for you. It’s for the team because there’s a runner on third base,” Fox said. “You know if you get that run across, it’s going to help your pitcher settle in more and feel more comfortable. I knew in that situation, I had to put the ball in play and square it up any way I could.”

Reynolds had just two hits in his last 21 at-bats when he absolutely crushed a Davis pitch in the fifth, a 395-foot shot. Reynolds also struck out, flied out, hit into a double play and made an error. This wasn’t a banner day for him, but he did homer – only his second of the month and fourth of the season.

He is with the Orioles to provide power. And he did that in the fifth.

“I’m seeing these guys again, second time around. Hopefully I can just keep hacking away at it and keep working with (Jim Presley) and not get too down on myself and just keep playing,” said Reynolds, who is batting .180. “Buck has really shown some confidence in me, by keeping throwing me out there and I want to reward him and go out there and play the game that I know I’m capable of.”

Here’s what Showalter had to say about the encouraging day from Bergesen, Fox and Reynolds: “They are capable of it. That’s why they are big leaguers and that’s why we took them. And it was nice to see them get a return for a lot of the work they do behind the scenes.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 9:27 PM | | Comments (12)
        

Comments

Dan:

Gotta feel good for Fox, particularly. The guy's been hammered about his role on the team, and especially about his catching skills. Not only does the guy hit a dinger, he also calls a great game - and the rare bird - a complete game shutout.

Love to see Bergy back in form. Who knows where he could go from here?

Reynolds? Perhaps he starts doing it too?

Good signs, all.

The SP has been brilliant as of late. I am hoping these complete games will give the BP the rest they need.

I understand that because of Brian and JJ's history of injuries that the O's are carrying Izzy, but I still believe that Tatum would be better as the backup which would give Jake a chance to spell Lee and Reynolds at 1B and 3B plus be able to be used in the OF on occasion. If Roberts goes down or JJ for that matter, call up Harris. I know Izzy has the respect of the clubhouse, but I think his spot could be better utilized.

One way or another, Bergy is a major league pitcher. I am still not sure if that role will be as a starer or reliever, but I can see him being very effective out of the BP. Similar to how Jake struggled with that 34 pitch 2nd inning, Bergy got hit, but didn't fall and as a result of that, he pitched one of the best games of his young career.

Tampa is the hottest team in baseball, but the O's have played them very well in this series, so if they can somehow pull out a W on Sunday, I truly believe that the O's will start moving up in the division. They've had a tough schedule, but they weathered it which is something that hasn't happened around here in quite some time. Getting Matusz back will be huge and IF the offense ever clicks, I still think this team can be players given the overall mediocrity in the AL this year.

Lastly, I know Lee has been bashed, but his glove is off the charts and in the last week, he's been hitting Th. ball with more authority. I truly believe it's a combination of the surgery and a new league. I agree that it would be nice to move him down in the order, but certainly not out of the lineup because he has saved the infielders from getting a ton errors on so many occasions that it's insane!

This was a nice game to watch. A lot of things just clicked for the Orioles today. It would be really good to get a win tomorrow as this week's schedule is pretty tough.

It would be nice to be at .500 after the Nationals series next Sunday.

I expect Reynolds to start hitting better when the weather heats up. I also think that as he figures out the AL pitching a bit better, he'll start to make more contact.

We'll see!

It was a good win. Last time they faced Davis he didn't have his best stuff but they were not able to take advantage. This time they did. Good for them.

Fox did a good job behind the plate and he and Berky had a good connection today. Text book at bat for Fox. He had his plan going into the box and fought for his pitch until he got it.

I knew Berky was due but a complete shutout game against the Rays? Never expected that but glad to see it happen for him. Getting good early run support had to be a help.

Glad Mark get a dinger.

It was a very good win.

Can Fox play infield or outfield?
They need to get him in the lineup more frequently.

--
He can play lf and corner inf adequately

Fox has not been given an opportunity to play after
a good ST. He has been criticized for being a poor catcher yet Bergesen pitched a shut out. Fox deserves more playing time considering the number of starters struggling
offensively.

Reynolds is an interesting case. What might be lost looking at his dismal BA is that he is tied with Luke Scott for 3rd on the O's in terms of both RBI (16) and runs scored (15).

He has more RBI and runs scored than Guerrero (14 & 14).

The case could be made that batting average is one of those overrated stats like a pitcher's win-loss record. In the end, it's runs scored and RBI that are really more important than batting average. And for a leadoff hitter his OBP is more important than just his average.

Dan, can't take anything away from brad just a great pitching performance.Not trying to be negative here dan but while we know that brad, reynolds,and fox have been disappointments this year, the ongoing get of jail card always is given to roberts and nick. Don't get me wrong dan i understand why that it is but it's doesn't make it right and it gets very old why the media in this town operates this way.There couldn't be 2 bigger disappointments then roberts and nick on this team, not because of the contract extensions , but because they are suppose to be givens, especially nick at age 27.

Since they both seemed so together, how about starting Fox the next time Bergy goes?
Fox could settle into catching one pitcher, getting to know him, which would allow Fox to get more comfortable as backstop. We need to know if he can fill that role, instead of wondering about calling up Tatum. It also gets Fox's bat into the lineup on a regular schedule, rather than him just being plugged in wherever, whenever.
Bergy clearly felt good with Fox's calling of the game, so maybe he'll feel like he's building on yesterday's success. Hard to argue with a CG shutout against the first-place team, eh?
Plus, as it gets warmer, Weiters is going to be needing more regular time off.

Brian Roberts is a health concern and if not, he should be. The Sun writers don't want to hear it, but the time is now. Now is the time to trade Roberts while he can still bring some value. He'd give anything to play for a contender. Give him what he wants (the opportunity to win), while trading for possible middle of the rotation SP, and get Andino on 2B

--

Dan's Reply: Sun writers don't want to hear it? Come on David, I expect more from you. Roberts has nearly $30 million remaining on a contract that extends through 2013 and, as you said, is a health risk. He is batting .216. That's not an easy contract to move. And, like it or not, he is the best leadoff option the Orioles have right now. It's not that we don't want to hear it. We just know he isn't going anywhere soon.

@David
Your point about Mark Reynolds:
He has more RBI and runs scored than Guerrero (14 & 14).

This is a bit misleading or off as someone likes to tell me. While you're correct in saying Reynolds has more runs and rbi's, Vlad just got his 14th RBI last night, but Mark got his 15th with his solo shot. However, that's really not my point. The point I will make is Vlad leads the team in hits so he's doing pretty good there. The problem is Vlad hasn't really had the chance to drive in many runs during this season. Vlad is either leading off the inning, which is something I have been crying about because Derrek Lee made the last out the inning before or there's already two outs when Vlad is up, which really doesn't create a situation conducive to a RBI. Now with Mark R batting 9th, the lower part of the order has been doing ok Hardy, Andino Wieters. They have been hitting the ball and getting more opportunites then Vlad.
The ideal situation would be everyone starts hitting and then you would probable see everyone racking up RBI's, which would help our pitching staff as well, especially Guthrie.

PS Vlad just missed getting 2 more rbi's, he hit a hot smash to Sam Fuld who made a pretty good catch. If the ball got past him Vlad would have had a 3 hit day and 3 rbi's and that's why I wanted him, because he can do that for you.

Reynolds' problems are incredibly evident to me, and I just don't understand why he persists. If you look at the homerun he hit on saturday, you see he stays on the ball and drives it for an oppo homer. 99% of the time, though, he's up there flailing at pitches, pulling off the ball and trying to pull every pitch, regardless of where it's pitched. This is fundamental- stay on the ball, hit it where it's pitched. I simply don't understand why big league hitters fail to do this.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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