O's ride Bergesen's arm to sweep of Jays
Baltimore completes sweep after starting season series 0-12
BALTIMORE -- Wednesday night was supposed to be about the much-anticipated debut of Blue Jays prospect Kyle Drabek, a big piece of last offseason's trade with the Phillies for Roy Halladay.
Drabek's father, Doug, a former National League Cy Young Award winner who finished his 13-year career in Baltimore, was on hand at Camden Yards to watch Kyle square off against an Orioles team that has struggled all season when facing a pitcher for the first time.
But these O's -- a resurgent 26-16 under new manager Buck Showalter -- are no longer content to play by the book. Instead, Baltimore completed a three-game sweep of its American League East division foe, handing Toronto -- a team it started 0-12 against this season -- a 3-1 loss and securing its ninth victory in 11 games in front of a crowd of 13,651.
And nearly all of those in attendance were on their feet in the game's final moments, as Orioles starter Brad Bergesen took center stage, retiring Lyle Overbay on a grounder to first to seal his second complete game this season and the third of his career.
"That one felt really good," said Bergesen, who has overcome a dismal start to the season, including two separate stints in Triple-A, to post a 2.39 ERA in his last nine starts. "Our team has been playing so well, it just makes it so much better."
Bergesen's impressive one-run, 95-pitch outing was just the latest for a dazzling starting staff that has pitched to a 2.93 ERA under Showalter, who took the helm on Aug. 2. The Orioles have posted quality starts in seven of their last eight games, with Brian Matusz's injury-shortened outing on Monday the lone exception in a run that has been nothing short of remarkable.
"Bergy just went over his career high for innings pitched with that outing," Showalter said. "And I notice with a lot of the young teams I've had from year to year, the first time they, not overachieve, but really reach a new level, usually in the 'W' column, the following year there's a little bit of an adjustment when they mentally say, 'Geez, I've got to do this again? Is anybody remembering what I did well last year?'
"It's a 'What have you done for me lately?' world and they realize that, hopefully as we get better, the competition for spots becomes ... it's not last man standing anymore."
Bergesen, who like many of the younger O's arms has admitted to wanting to impress Showalter, did quite the job on Wednesday. He allowed a first-inning homer to Jose Bautista -- who extended his Major League lead to 47 -- and pitched around his only jam in the sixth. In that inning, Travis Snider and DeWayne Wise delivered a pair of singles, but Bergesen got Yunel Escobar to ground back to the mound and threw to shortstop Cesar Izturis to start a key double play. He retired Bautista on a fly ball to end the threat and established a quick tempo that helped give way to the Orioles' first sub-two-hour game since 2005.
"Early on [in the season], it was just tough for me to find it, to find the two-seamer that I had last year," said Bergesen, who has added a four-seam fastball to get ahead in the count and throw more strikes.
"The four-seamer's the one you've really got to keep down in the zone or else. Bautista was a perfect example. If you get one up, it goes a long way."
It was the only blemish on a otherwise outstanding evening, as Bergesen -- buoyed by several dazzling defensive plays from Izturis -- helped guide the O's to win No. 58.
"Izzy put on a clinic tonight, just about in every phase you want to see," Showalter said of the quiet shortstop, one of the most popular players in the Orioles' clubhouse, who also delivered a fourth-inning RBI. "Bergy was the story tonight, but I've got to tell you Izzy is a close second."
In that case, Corey Patterson will have to settle for the bronze. Patterson who entered Wednesday's finale with just one at-bat since Sept. 8, sent Drabek's offering into right field to score Felix Pie, who singled to open the inning and snap a 1-1 tie in the fourth. Izturis followed with his run-scoring single in what would be the final run of the night.
"Everybody is doing their job," Izturis said of the Orioles' total turnaround as of late. "The defense and offense and the pitching staff, they have been great. To sweep the Blue Jays makes you feel good."
"It's refreshing compared to our start this year," said Luke Scott, who plated the first run of the game on a first-inning fielder's choice.
"It was very, very rough. We've had adversity. To this team's credit, we could have just rolled over and cashed in the season, played mediocre. But I'm proud of my teammates, how our work ethic has been. We come to the ballpark prepared and ready to play every day."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.