When he was demoted to the minor leagues May 28 for the fourth time in less than two full seasons, Brad Bergesen was given two specific things to work on: limiting his pitch count and improving his slider.
The 25-year-old right-hander apparently made enough strides in those areas to be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday in place of reliever Jeremy Accardo, who was designated for assignment after another poor outing Friday.
Bergesen pitched two scoreless innings in relief in the Orioles' 4-2 loss to the Washington Nationals, allowing one hit and striking out one. His performance was an important one for a bullpen that has been taxed in recent games.
"I feel like it did [help]," Bergesen said about his latest demotion, which came after he went 1-6 with a 5.36 ERA in 10 outings (nine starts) for the Orioles. "Getting down in that atmosphere is so much different. You feel a little more relaxed, and you feel like you can work on those things. Here, it's all about winning. You don't feel like, 'OK, I'm going to work on this today.' You go with what you have whether it's good or bad. You just have to go with it."
Bergesen went 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA in three starts for the Tides, allowing 14 hits and eight walks while striking out 18 in 22 innings. The Orioles are planning on using him out of the bullpen, but that could change quickly with Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz having health questions.
Meanwhile, the Orioles will have 10 days to pass Accardo through waivers, trade him or grant him his outright release. The 29-year-old right-hander went 3-3 with a 5.29 ERA and allowed 55 base runners in 321/3 innings for the Orioles. The final straw came Friday night, when Accardo allowed three of the four Nationals he faced to reach base, including a four-pitch walk to pitcher Sean Burnett.
"His numbers were, actually, going into last night, a little better than he actually pitched," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We keep a thing about balls given up that are hard-hit, and he wasn't doing too well in that category. … It reached a point where we didn't feel like the return was going to be there down the road."
Bergesen and Jason Berken would be candidates to make Tuesday's start if Guthrie is unable to because of a back strain. A day after an MRI came back clean, Guthrie made 40 throws from as far as 90 feet and is hoping to throw a bullpen session Sunday.
"It's improved every day," said Guthrie, who was removed from Thursday's start after five innings because of the back discomfort. "I won't say it's completely gone, but it's improving every day."
Scott ailing, too
Left fielder Luke Scott joined the list of Orioles with health concerns as he exited Saturday's game in the fourth inning with back spasms.
"First swing of the day, slider inside, I got some spasms going on in my back," said Scott, who was replaced by Felix Pie. "I just finished the at-bat, kept going, hoping that the pain would subside or loosen up. Then it just kept staying tight … especially when I breathe and take a deep breath. It was hard for me to move."
Scott said he has experienced the spasms three or four times in his career and doesn't expect to go to the disabled list.
Getting his shot
Infielder Blake Davis was having a strong spring in 2009 when he fractured his left foot while engaging in some horseplay away from Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The nonbaseball injury ended his chances of making the big league club and started a steady downfall for the organization's fourth-round pick out of Cal State Fullerton in 2006.
Davis hit just .211 in 55 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2009 and followed that up by batting .246 with four homers and 23 RBIs in 75 games for the Tides last year. He had fallen so far down the organization's depth chart that the 27-year-old wasn't even invited to big league spring training this year.
However, Davis officially got his first big league call-up Saturday after he batted .284 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 49 games for Norfolk this season.
"I kind of came in this year with a chip on my shoulder, I guess, to kind of prove I can play," said Davis, who plays both middle-infield positions and outfield. "[When I] didn't get invite to spring, [I] just kind of took it with a grain of salt and said, 'You know, you got to get better.' I tried to do that down there."
Davis was promoted, and second baseman Ryan Adams was optioned back to Norfolk. Adams hit .217 with one RBI in nine games for the Orioles.
Orioles outfielders Nick Markakis and Adam Jones collected four hits apiece Friday, but neither scored a run or drove one in. They are the second pair of teammates to accomplish that feat since RBIs became an official stat in 1920, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Rod Carew and Fred Lynn of the California Angels both went 4-for-5 without a run or RBI in a 2-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on April 13, 1984.
First baseman Derrek Lee had five hits in the game and scored a run, but he didn't drive in any. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Orioles are the first team since 1920 to have three guys with four-plus hits and zero RBIs.
According the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a major league team had three or more players get four or more hits and lose a nine-inning game was July 22, 2006, when the Orioles lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 13-12. In that game, Corey Patterson had five hits and Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts had four each.
Around the horn
Roberts (concussion symptoms) resumed conditioning work. … Lee had a single and a double in his first two at-bats Saturday, giving him hits in seven straight at-bats. … Catcher Matt Wieters went 0-for-4 on Saturday and is 0-for-9 in the first two games of the series. … Pie drew his first walk of the season in the eighth inning in his 100th plate appearance. … The Orioles need a victory Sunday to split the six-game season series with the Nationals. They are 24-26 against the Nationals in the all-time series.
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