Bergesen shines in debut win for O's
Right-hander allows one unearned run in 5 2/3 innings
BALTIMORE -- One horse is in the corral and several more are waiting in the wings.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley has often referred to his team's cache of pitching prospects as "the cavalry," and he saw the first arm ride to his relief on Tuesday night. Brad Bergesen was highly effective in his big league debut, taking a no-hitter into the fourth inning and lasting late in a 10-3 win over Chicago that was delayed 98 minutes by rain.
Aubrey Huff supported Bergesen's outing with a pair of home runs, and Trembley removed his starter with a one-run lead in the sixth. Bergesen was treated to a hearty ovation, and Trembley couldn't help but look forward to a day when his staff also includes phenoms Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz.
"It was only a matter of time," said Trembley of the reinforcements. "This is the first step in that youth movement of guys coming up through the system and guys developing, us showing patience with them, making sure they're ready when they get here. And we saw a lot of that in Spring Training. There's more coming. ... They won't get here for a while. Bergesen's the first guy. Let's enjoy him. And we can let our minds imagine what it's going to be like when the others get here. But tonight was all about Bergesen and all about the team."
Bergesen, who was named Baltimore's Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, is one of the team's most polished prospects and thus the first starter recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. Bergesen was called on to replace right-hander Alfredo Simon, who is out for a month or more with an elbow ailment.
"Now that I'm here, I definitely hope I'm a solution," he said. "When I was at Triple-A, I wasn't paying too much attention just because I want to take care of what I was doing day in and day out."
And from the very first moment, he looked like he belonged. Bergesen (1-0) threw a ball in his very first Major League pitch but retired the side in order in the first inning. The rookie walked a batter in the second but escaped the threat on a double play, and then he came out in the third and retired the side in order again.
"I think nervous would be an understatement," he said of his emotions. "My heart was pounding about 1,000 beats a second. I felt like I tried to keep my composure as much as possible, but it was tough tonight."
Perhaps the toughest moment in the night came in the first inning, when All-Star Carlos Quentin fouled off seven balls in a 12-pitch offering. Bergesen wound up striking Quentin out to end the inning, and after the game, Trembley, Bergesen and catcher Gregg Zaun all said that was a moment of truth.
"It means he's got great movement on his ball," said Zaun. "At some point, you figure he's going to square one up. [Quentin] started to get a little further out, so I figured it was a good time to go with the slider. He threw one in a good spot, it started in the strike zone and finished out. But he was in swing mode at that point."
Baltimore (7-7) spotted the 23-year-old a lead in the fourth inning on Huff's first home run -- a monster shot onto Eutaw Street -- and that's when the game got tense. Bergesen walked a batter in the bottom of the inning and saw another reach on an error before striking out Jim Thome, but both Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko singled to knot the game.
The White Sox (7-6) even briefly took the lead in the fifth inning, but Bergesen got two key outs to strand a potential insurance run at third base. The Orioles stormed back on a Nick Markakis double and a Luke Scott single in the fifth, and Baltimore iced the game by adding two more runs in each of the next three innings.
The story, however, was Bergesen, who threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 23 batters he faced. Five batters put the first ball in play, six took called strikes and four fouled off the first pitch.
"I'm very impressed with the poise," said Zaun. "The execution of pitches was there pretty much all night. We used predominantly a sinker with a few breaking balls mixed in. The sinker had to have real good life. We only got hurt on it twice. He left it up over the zone and gave up a few singles. We can take singles."
For one night, Bergesen was the stopper. Baltimore came into Tuesday night's game with a five-game losing streak and having scored just two runs in its previous 22 innings, but all that went out the window.
"It was a tremendous performance. Great tempo," said Trembley. "I think we talked about his poise. [He threw} quality pitches, didn't get rattled. And the guys like playing behind him. I had a lot of comments tonight.
"Right after the first inning, Markakis came in and said, 'Hey, I like this. This guy works fast.' [Brian] Roberts, Huff, all of them. He didn't flinch, made big pitches. That's a shot in the arm for the club. Congratulations to him and all the people who have helped him get here. A lot of people have helped him get here."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.