Orioles go into All-Star break on upbeat note

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will spend the All-Star break in Baltimore, trying to rid himself of an upper respiratory infection that has dogged him for the entire month.

Pitching coach Rick Kranitz will return to his Arizona home to relax and smoke some cigars, while manager Dave Trembley will head back to Daytona Beach, Fla., where his wife, Patti, has assembled an extensive to-do list.

If their minds wander to baseball, their final memory of an up-and-down first half will be another quality outing from rookie starter Brad Bergesen, who held the Toronto Blue Jays to two runs in 6 2/3 innings in the Orioles' 4-2 victory in front of an announced 21,621 on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Bergesen (6-3) turned in his eighth quality start in his past nine turns, pitching to a 2.35 ERA during that span and further cementing himself as the Orioles' biggest revelation. The 23-year-old began the first half in Triple-A Norfolk's rotation and finished it as the Orioles' most effective starter by a wide margin. The Orioles, who head to the All Star break with a 40-48 record and four wins in their past five games, are 10-6 in games started by Bergesen, a legitimate candidate for American League Rookie of the Year.

"He'd probably be No.1 on the list," said Roberts when asked about positives from the first 3 1/2 months of the season. "You got a guy where every fifth day, you know what you're getting. He's been phenomenal."

Roberts went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Oscar Salazar, getting a rare start with Aubrey Huff on the bench, also had two hits, including a solo home run. All-Star center fielder Adam Jones robbed Alex Rios of a fourth-inning homer run by extending over the wall in center field before he made a defensive gaffe in the seventh that drew Trembley's ire.

The Orioles' back end of the bullpen - Danys Baez, Jim Johnson and George Sherrill - allowed just one base runner while getting the final seven outs. But again, the story was Bergesen, who took a shutout bid into the seventh inning before the Blue Jays (44-46) scored twice in that frame. Baez, pitching on back-to-back days for the first time all season, got him out of the inning with a one-run lead intact. Bergesen allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three.

"The thing about him is he's really made some nice adjustments," Kranitz said. "He's learned the curveball. He really got two big outs on it today. He pounds that strike zone. You never expect a guy to come out and be this good, but you got to give him credit. He's battled hard and he competes on every pitch."

Said Trembley: "I think he has established himself as a real nice story in the American League. It seems like every time he pitches, he gives us a chance to win, and it was no different today."

When Bergesen walked into the clubhouse to speak to reporters, several veterans chided him with chants of "ROY," an acronym for Rookie of the Year. Bergesen laughed them off in the same easygoing manner with which he has handled everything else since his April 20 call-up.

"I don't think a whole lot," Bergesen said. "I'm definitely not going to turn the switch off, even for a few days. That day doesn't come for me until after a few days into the offseason. I'll just do my normal thing, get somewhat of a decent mental and physical rest and get back at it again."

Trembley has similar plans. Before the game, he discussed all the positives from the first half, during which the Orioles, despite their last-place standing in the AL East, have actually won more series than they've lost (13-12-4 in 29 series). The club has ushered in a slew of rookies and overturned four-fifths of its Opening Day starting staff, relying on three first-year pitchers to do so.

However, the Orioles also continue to make fundamental errors, something even more evident to Trembley while watching the previous two games from a broadcast booth during his two-game suspension.

"The last few nights I saw things you can't hide," Trembley said. "That's not the promise and the commitment that I have tried to make to the fans here and the people here. And that's going to get better. It's going to get better."

Even on Sunday, Jones forgot how many outs there were in the seventh and allowed plodding catcher Raul Chavez to tag up from first base and get into scoring position.

"I want to leave on a positive note, too, but that kind of stuff, there's no room for that," Trembley said. "Adam Jones, I love him like he was my own son, but there's no room for that. He's a great kid and a good player and he made a mistake and he's embarrassed by it, but that's what I'm talking about. There's no reason for that."

Jones agreed, saying, "I'll just keep my head in the game a little more, I guess."

The Orioles have four days to sort all that out before they begin the second half against the Chicago White Sox on Friday.

Breaking point
The Orioles' record the past five seasons entering the All-Star break:
Year Record GB Final record Final GB
2009 40-48 14 -- --
2008 45-48 10 68-93 28.5
2007 38-50 15.5 69-93 27
2006 41-49 14 70-92 27
2005 47-40 2 74-88 21