BOSTON -- To say Orioles starter Brad Bergesen has had a tough sophomore campaign would be putting it mildly.
The 24-year-old Bergesen, who saw a stellar rookie campaign cut short last July when he was struck by a line drive, suffered a strained right shoulder capsule this offseason, and he pitched to a 12.19 ERA in his first three starts of the year. Twice, the right-hander was the odd man out and got sent to Triple-A Norfolk to regain his confidence and his trademark sinker. He was also temporarily placed in the Orioles' bullpen.
But as of late, Bergesen has thrived, pitching to a 1.69 ERA in his past four outings, and staying true to what manager Buck Showalter refers to as his track record.
"It's been quite a haul for him," Showalter said of Bergesen, who has allowed three earned runs or fewer in nine of his past 10 starts, including Tuesday's one-run, six-inning outing.
"I guess you couldn't dream that he would have gotten his ERA below 5.00 at some point this year. I looked out at the board [Tuesday night], [and] I told [pitching coach Rick Kranitz], 'That's pretty cool.'"
It's a testament to Bergesen's total turnaround given that his ERA was still at 6.63 entering August and has fallen nearly two runs (4.90) since. This Bergesen is markedly different from the tape Showalter saw earlier in the year, but the Orioles' skipper said he isn't shocked given Bergesen's past success.
"Guys don't fall from that track record too often," Showalter said. "I think when you get [rid of] some of the anxiety and apprehension, [you] get to be a little more trustworthy of what you are trying to do. You have already failed, at some point you've got to go, 'That didn't work, so what the heck, I'm going to let it fly and see where it takes me.' And I think he's in that mode now."
Buck continues to demand hustle on all plays
BOSTON -- While Orioles manager Buck Showalter credited Red Sox second baseman Marco Scutaro's dropped popup for changing Tuesday's momentum, there was one thing he didn't like: Felix Pie's hustle.
"How do we score from first, but not get to second?" Showalter asked, referring to Adam Jones advancing three bases on Pie's popup, while Pie managed to go only 90 feet.
On Wednesday, Showalter backed off his initial sentiment that Pie could have been on second, and he said after watching the replay that the outfielder might have been out had he tried for the extra base.
"You have to keep in mind that Adam was running on the pitch, 3-2. He was pretty much around second base when the ball got up to its apex," Showalter said of Scutaro's sixth-inning error, which tied the game at 1. "But as good as the play was with Jonesy, there's always something that we could have maybe done a little bit better. The biggest thing was, I'd like to see if there was a way [Pie] could keep from popping it up."
Showalter said following Tuesday's 9-1 win that Jones had already chided Pie on the play, and he mentioned again on Wednesday that it had been addressed. In terms of running out balls and hustling down the first-base line, the O's skipper made it clear that anything less than 100 percent wouldn't be tolerated.
"That's just the way it's supposed to be done, and [it] is going to be done," Showalter said. "When something like that happens, you get a return for it. That makes it a lot easier to demand."
Chris Tillman will start Friday's series opener in Toronto, with Jeremy Guthrie to follow. Showalter said the team has "at least three" options for Sunday and part of that depends on whether Rick VandenHurk is used out of the bullpen prior to then. The O's also want to align their rotation in the most competitive manner possible when playing the Rays, who are fighting for the American League East title. ... Infielder Julio Lugo (pinched nerve) returned to the team on Tuesday and said he was "a little rusty," but available to play if needed. ... Koji Uehara became the seventh Japanese-born pitcher to record a double-digit save season, collecting his 10th in Monday's 4-2 win.
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.