The Yankees have now homered in all 15 of their games against the Orioles this season, an impressive streak that included five home runs in Tuesday’s game. Eric Hinske homered off Jason Berken in the third inning Wednesday to extend that streak and tie the game.
— Spencer Fordin
Jason Berken was relieved on Tuesday night when he didn’t have to pitch out of the bullpen. The rookie was even more enthusiastic Wednesday, when he discussed his next starting assignment with the media. Berken has lost nine straight decisions since winning his big-league debut, but he still thinks he can help the Orioles most in the rotation.
“Obviously, I want to start,” said Berken. “No question about it. But if they said my role was better as a reliever, I am going to do it. But I think this opportunity on Friday is a good chance for me to go out there and pitch well and hope I stay in the rotation.”
When Brian Matusz won on Tuesday, he became the fifth Baltimore rookie to win his big-league debut this season, a feat unrivaled in modern baseball history. Only one other team — the 1888 Chicago White Stockings, who later became the Cubs — has managed to equal that achievement, giving the Orioles an interesting footnote in the game’s annals.
Koji Uehara, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and David Hernandez have also won their debuts this season, and Baltimore had a near-miss in a no-decision for Chris Tillman.
Rookie Matt Wieters, who helped usher Matusz through his debut, had an interesting quip. “That’s when they started baseball,” he said of 1888. “So everybody was debuting.”
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley was cagey when asked about his pitching staff on Tuesday, preferring to wait another day to see how things shake out. Trembley said that Jason Berken would be available as a reliever, and another team source said that if the rookie isn’t needed in that capacity that he’d likely return to his rotation slot on Friday.
Things weren’t so certain on Monday, when southpaw Chris Waters was seen lurking in the wings at Comerica Park. Waters was on hand in case the Orioles needed an emergency option, but after a low-stress night for the bullpen, the left-hander was sent back to Triple-A Norfolk. Now, if Berken isn’t needed on Tuesday, he likely take the ball again Friday.
The Orioles played things close to the vest on Monday, when they declined to officially explain the presence of two southpaw pitchers. Brian Matusz, who is expected to make his big-league debut on Tuesday, worked out at Comerica Park on Monday.
Baltimore also got a guest-starring appearance from Chris Waters, who worked out with the team before the clubhouse was opened to the media. Waters may or may not join the team as a reliever on Tuesday, and he could also be a candidate to start on Friday.
“I think it depends on what happens tonight,” said manager Dave Trembley. “We need to see what our needs are after tonight’s game. Is that honest and up front?”
Trembley has said that starter Jason Berken’s role is being re-evaluated, and the youngster could be used in relief over the next couple days. In that case, Waters would likely take his slot on Friday, which would necessitate another roster move by the Orioles.
The Orioles are apparently set to promote top pitching prospect Chris Tillman to make his Major League debut on Wednesday, a move that allows Baltimore to give its other starters an extra day between rotation turns. Manager Dave Trembley said Saturday that Rich Hill will start Monday and Jason Berken on Tuesday before a mystery pitcher throws on Wednesday.
Trembley, who had said earlier in the week that Tillman’s promotion was imminent but with a uncertainty as to which specific day, said Saturday that Wednesday’s pitcher shouldn’t be a surprise. A roster move will be required, he said, and wouldn’t divulge much more info.
Trembley said he has no plans to go with a six-man rotation and that Wednesday’s start wouldn’t be a one-time audition, which likely means that Tillman’s presence will force someone else out of the rotation. In this case, it likely means Berken or Hill.
The Orioles endorsed Jason Berken to make Monday’s start against the Royals but cryptically stopped short of naming Rich Hill to start on Tuesday. Baltimore is considering the promotion of pitching prospect Chris Tillman, which would change the existing pitching equation. Still, at this point, they’re not prepared to say when he’ll join the team.
“You know, Tillman is going to get here,” said manager Dave Trembley. “It’s just a matter of when. I can’t tell you right know the exact date when he’s going to be here.”
Andy MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, was just as cagey regarding Tillman’s potential promotion. MacPhail refused to lean either way, and when asked if a recent adverse start by Tillman would affect the timetable, he shook his head.
“I don’t think [it’s fair] a kid that has pitched well virtually for the entire time that we got him to penalize him for a bad outing,” said MacPhail. “To put that much emphasis on one outing, I don’t think would be fair to anybody.”