Bass rebounds from slow start
O's long man has worked 7 2/3 straight scoreless innings
BALTIMORE -- Brian Bass started slowly this season. The Orioles' long man gave up five runs in his first appearance, seven in his second and two more the third time. That left the right-hander with a 14.73 ERA and a lot of questions.
But Bass has turned it around quickly. Since that third game, he's been almost perfect, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings and taking pressure of an Orioles bullpen that's gotten a lot of work.
Bass did his job in Saturday night's 6-5 loss against Texas. The hard-hitting Rangers blasted four homers off starter Mark Hendrickson and scored six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
That's when Bass took over. He gave the bullpen a big break by throwing 3 2/3 innings of two-hit shutout relief and gave the Orioles a chance to rally in the ninth.
Bass threw 35 strikes on 47 pitches and shut down a powerful Texas lineup, staying in until Matt Albers pitched the ninth inning.
Bass said that was the best he's thrown this season and feels more confident on the mound after talking and working with pitching coach Rick Kranitz.
"[Kranitz] and I talked about a couple of mechanical issues," Bass said. "We worked those out and got back on track."
Bass has no record and his ERA has tumbled down to 7.20. But Bass took pride in the fact that, even when giving up a bunch of runs, he kept getting through innings and taking strain off the bullpen.
"Being a long guy, my job is to go out there and eat up innings," Bass said. "Even though the results weren't great, I was eating up the innings and saving our bullpen."
The Orioles acquired Bass from the Twins on Sept. 5, 2008, and he went 1-0 with a 4.71 ERA in five games (four of which were starts) last season.
Bass continued to throw well in Spring Training, posting a 2.19 ERA in seven games without a decision, another reason his early-season struggles were a bit of a surprise.
Bass gave up five runs on five hits against the Yankees on April 9. Three days later, the Rays nailed him for seven runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. Bass then allowed two runs on three hits at Texas on April 15.
That was the low point, but Orioles manager Dave Trembley thinks confidence might have been a factor in Bass turning it around. Trembley said that sometimes pitchers get hit, even if they're throwing well.
"I think his mechanics have improved," Trembley said. "I think confidence has a lot to do with it as well. I don't really see a great disparity between his stuff. You go through it. Sometimes you get hit, sometimes you don't. [But] you keep pounding that strike zone."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.