Bowie starters hit the spot

The Baltimore Sun

The starting pitching woes of their parent club have been well documented, but the Double-A Bowie Baysox certainly cannot relate to the Orioles' problems.

For all the talk about Eastern League Most Valuable Player Lou Montanez and top prospect Matt Wieters, the Baysox's rotation has been the backbone of the Southern Division champions. Bowie will start its playoff run tomorrow as a best-of-five series against the Akron Aeros begins at Prince George's Stadium.

"There's been great continuity," Baysox pitching coach Mike Griffin said. "We've had a core of our pitchers stay here the entire year. They've come up together and they're having success together, and when you're having success as a group, everybody feeds off each other. It's kind of like a competition between the five starters here. They see one starter go six or seven innings and the next guy says, 'I'm going to do that, maybe even try to go one more.' "

Right-hander Brad Bergesen (15-6, 3.22 ERA) started the season at Single-A Frederick, and all he has done since being promoted to Bowie is set the franchise record for victories and earn the league's Pitcher of the Year award. Right-hander David Hernandez (10-4, 2.68) has won five straight decisions and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 23 of 27 starts this season.

Chris Tillman (11-4 3.18), a right-hander who is widely considered the organization's top pitching prospect, has struck out 51 over his past six starts and hadn't allowed an earned run in three straight outings before giving up two Sunday. Despite giving up five earned runs in his last start, right-hander Jason Berken (12-4, 3.58) is 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break. Zach Clark, a right-hander who attended UMBC, is the least heralded of the group as he has pitched for four Orioles affiliates this season. He has found a home at Bowie, going 4-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 10 starts.

"Just watching them in spring training, [I knew] it was a pretty darn good core, and it's a very darn good core right now," said Griffin, who got only nine starts out of Opening Day starter Chorye Spoone because of injury, but he has had a pretty stable rotation otherwise. "I think the best thing that helped me out is I've never had to one time go to any one of them and say, 'Let's go to the mound, let's go work on something.' They're always there every single day of the baseball season. When you have that as a pitching coach, it's a dream."

Triple-A Norfolk

Third baseman Mike Costanzo has enjoyed a nice finish to his season, hitting .293 with 22 RBIs in 26 August games. ... Second baseman Eider Torres has batted .350 since the All-Star break. Three other players who have started at shortstop for the Orioles have struggled offensively for the Tides, with Freddie Bynum hitting .238 and Brandon Fahey and Luis Hernandez batting .248 and .184, respectively.

Single-A Frederick

Brandon Snyder, who will represent the Orioles in the Arizona Fall League, has gotten better each month. The 2005 first-round pick hit .229 in April, .292 in May, .326 in June, .330 in July and .388 in August. He has hit nine of his 13 home runs since July 1. ... Pitching prospect Pedro Beato (4-10, 5.85) ended his season by losing six straight decisions, allowing four earned runs or more in those starts.

Single-A Delmarva

Second baseman Ryan Adams set the South Atlantic League record Saturday when he made two errors, giving him 52 for the season. The previous record was held by Orioles third base coach Juan Samuel, who made 50 errors in 1981. ... Right-hander Sean Gleason had won nine straight decisions before losing to Lakewood on Saturday. However, he didn't surrender a home run and has thrown 102 1/3 consecutive homerless innings.

Single-A Aberdeen

Right-hander Oliver Drake, whom the Orioles drafted in June out of Navy, has allowed only one earned run in three appearances for the IronBirds, striking out 10 in seven innings. He was promoted from Rookie-level Bluefield, where he allowed one earned run in 11 2/3 innings. ... First baseman Tom Baxter is hitting .327 with runners in scoring position. ... Since joining Aberdeen, shortstop Greg Miclat has reached base in 10 of his 11 games.

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