Markakis unfazed by recent strikeouts

The Baltimore Sun

SEATTLE -- Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis knew he had struck out quite a few times in recent games, he just didn't know how bad it had gotten.

"How many do I have now, 30?" Markakis asked before last night's game.

Markakis, who who hit the game-winning home run in the eighth inning last night, actually has 21 strikeouts, including seven in the past three games. During one stretch that ended Tuesday, Markakis struck out in five straight at-bats. He has also struck out in nine of the past ten games.

"Strikeouts are something that you'd always like to cut back on, but that's the last thing I'm worried about," said Markakis, who entered yesterday tied for the American League lead with 17 walks and among the league leaders in strikeouts. "They come and go for me. Once I'm in that strikeout mode, I pile them up. But I'm not really too concerned."

After striking out 112 times last season, Markakis said one of his goals was to reduce that number. However, the third-year player said it has been tough, simply because pitchers haven't given him much to hit.

"I think maybe I'm trying too hard, instead of just letting my hands do the work," he said. "Right now, I'm probably putting too much emphasis on trying to knock the cover off the ball instead of just putting the ball in play and letting my hands and ability do the rest of the work."

Asked whether he might be putting too much pressure on himself to drive in runs, Markakis said: "I think that could have a little to do with it. This is all new to me right now, and I'm trying to make adjustments. Right now, when I do get that one pitch, I'm either fouling it off or missing it. I'm going to learn to do something with that one pitch when I get it."

Staying with 13

Orioles starters had gone 5 2/3 innings or more in six straight starts entering last night, but manager Dave Trembley still isn't ready to send down his 13th pitcher in favor of a position player.

"I think [Adam] Loewen has to show me that he can do it back-to-back to be honest with you," Trembley said. "I think Loewen is the guy that we're trying to cover for. I don't think we're in a position where we can afford for Loewen to go two or three innings. I just don't think we can do it. Until he shows otherwise, we have to keep 13."

Ramon's risk

Trembley made sure not to second-guess Ramon Hernandez, but it was clear he would like the veteran catcher to show better judgment. With men on first and second and two outs in a tie game Tuesday, Hernandez tried to pick off Ichiro Suzuki at first base. His throw was off line and wound up in right field, allowing Yuniesky Betancourt to score from second base.

"More times than not -- and I think Ramon and everybody else would agree with [this] -- if there is less than two outs, you might think about doing something like that," Trembley said. "If there are two outs, you let the pitcher get the guy out. I think that's just basic baseball.

"Sometimes, we try to do a little more, and we get a little bit ahead of ourselves. I think the thought is good, but I don't think the timing was pertinent, especially with how well [Jeremy] Guthrie was pitching."

Around the horn

Six of the nine Orioles regulars are hitting under .255, but Trembley said at this point he doesn't foresee any lineup changes. "I just think it ought to stay the way it is." ... Utility infielder Freddie Bynum (right knee surgery) will play nine innings of an extended spring training game today and is inching closer to a rehabilitation assignment. ... Loewen, who will start in tonight's series finale, has provided 60 tickets for the game for his family and friends from Surrey, British Columbia, which is two hours from here.

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