05/19/09 11:37 PM ET
O's let one get away late against Yanks
Bergesen pitches into seventh, but Ray gets lit up in relief
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Nothing came easy, but Bergesen masked his nerves and pitched with poise. The rookie gave up a two-run home run to Alex Rodriguez in the first inning, but then he went on to retire 13 straight hitters. Bergesen worked back into trouble in the seventh, and the Yankees pounded out five late runs against the bullpen.
But in the aftermath, Bergesen emerged with an object lesson to point the way to future success.
"With the four-decker and the packed house, it was pretty fun to pitch here tonight," said Bergesen. "For me, a lot of people have been asking me the last week if anything was going to be different. For me, nothing was different. I did my same routine, came in tonight and treated it the same way I did any other game."
That he did, even if it was unlike any game he'd pitched. Bergesen had worked in just five big league games before Tuesday, and only one of them was pitched in a road market. That was Toronto, an environment that's hardly analogous to the 40,000 fans screaming for the Yankees on Tuesday night.
Still, Bergesen seemed completely undeterred by the atmosphere or the opponent.
"Bergesen, I think, is a pretty cool customer," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "He looked real relaxed. He looked real focused. He worked fast [and] he just pitched his normal game. He got a lot of ground-ball outs. It didn't look like he was intimidated, and I wouldn't expect he would be."
Despite the final score, the two teams were close for most of the game. Baltimore's first two hitters -- Brian Roberts and Adam Jones -- both singled off CC Sabathia to set up the initial scoring rally. Roberts stole third base and scored on a fielder's choice to give the Orioles (16-23) a short-lived lead.
The Yankees (22-17) answered within four batters, using a Rodriguez homer -- his fourth in as many games -- to permanently take control. Bergesen (1-2) didn't allow another baserunner until the sixth inning, and after Francisco Cervelli was caught stealing, the right-hander was able to strand two runners on base.
"After I gave up that two-run home run," said Bergesen of his success in the middle innings, "I felt like I settled down, got deep into the game and chewed up some innings. I felt that part was good."
In fact, the Orioles thought enough of Bergesen's outing to send him back out for the seventh. The right-hander got one out to set a new career high in innings, but then he proceeded to walk two straight batters. Both of those runners came around to score, and the Yankees went on to tag Chris Ray for five more runs.
Baltimore made two errors in the back-breaking rally -- one by Robert Andino and the other by Jones -- and New York got a two-run home run from first baseman Mark Teixeira. The Yankees retired the side quietly in the eighth and ninth to earn their seventh straight win and send the Orioles to seven games under .500.
"We played well up until that point," said Trembley. "But you know, you're facing a team that has put together some wins in a row. Obviously, the way things are going right now, they're going to take advantage of the opportunities they had. You give them a little crack, and they really opened it up. You can't do that."
Sabathia (4-3) didn't even need that crack, holding the Orioles down for most of the game. Baltimore only got one hit after the first inning and never pushed a runner to scoring position after the fifth. Sabathia worked through the seventh, calmly controlling the game and leaving after his team's outburst.
"You want to get him early," said right fielder Nick Markakis, who finished 0-for-4. "When you get behind any pitcher, it makes it tough -- and especially him. You just try to go up there with a good approach and put good swings on the ball. The past two times we've faced him, he's pitched very well."
Trembley was questioned after the game about sending Bergesen back out for the seventh inning even though he had already reached 93 pitches, and the manager felt that he absolutely made the right decision.
"I don't think there's any question about it," Trembley said. "He deserved a chance to go deep in the game. I thought he deserved a chance to try and win the game. Obviously, you know when he walks two guys, you've got to hand the ball over to the bullpen and it's someone else's job to get it done. It didn't get done."
Despite pitching relatively well, Bergesen hasn't earned a victory in five straight starts. The former fourth-round draftee was content to work deep in the game and found himself regretting one pitch. If Bergesen had just handled the Rodriguez at-bat differently, he said, it could have been an entirely different ballgame.
"I think I probably should have thrown him a slider there," Bergesen said. "I didn't want to walk him. ... I just decided to throw a belt-high fastball that he hit out of the park. All hindsight, but I probably should've thrown the slider."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.