Berken keeps workin'

Happy Father's Day.

I was greeted this morning with the following exchange:

Daughter: "Can I go swimming later today?"

Me: "Only if you wish me a Happy Father's Day."

Daughter: "Oh crap, I forgot! Happy Father's Day. I love you."

I guess that counts.

Have you recovered from last night's game? You might need to stay in bed, even if you're not getting breakfast there.

Kevin Millwood's first victory wasn't going to come easily, not on a night when the Orioles butchered a rundown and Alfredo Simon took the closer's role from David Hernandez, who took it from Will Ohman, who took it from an injured Alfredo Simon, who took it from...

The Padres had runners on second and third with no outs and the Orioles clinging to a 5-3 lead, but Simon held them to one run. He struck out Chase Headley to end it after almost giving up the tying hit. First base umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled that Headley's hard smash down the line was foul as the ball slammed off Ty Wigginton's mitt.

The replay didn't convince me that Cuzzi made the right call, but I'll take his word for it.

Perhaps lost in all the excitement and drama was Jason Berken's scoreless eighth inning. Most of us were focused on Millwood's quest for that first win and Simon's high-wire act, but Berken got the "hold" after striking out Scott Hairston and Will Venable in another smooth outing.

I didn't have Berken making the team in spring training. I punched his ticket for Triple-A Norfolk because the rotation was set.

I forgot about the bullpen.

I deserve to be punched.

Berken's ERA is down to 1.95 in 22 games. He's walked 10 and struck out 26 in 37 innings, and he's surrendered only two home runs.

Berken has held opponents to two runs and six hits in his last nine appearances covering 11 innings. Left-handers are batting .196 against him this year. His ERA on the road is 1.35.

If you told me that he would work in relief this season, I would have pegged him as a long man, but he's become too valuable late in games. Interim manager Juan Samuel wants to use Hernandez in a set-up role, but I'd tear off the labels. Like I keep preaching, just go with the hot hand.

I'd also be hesitant to keep removing Berken after a batter or an inning. The Orioles have been burned for that decision more than once.

In a season when we've debated whether Ty Wigginton or Nick Markakis is the Most Valuable Oriole, Berken shouldn't get lost in the discussion - just as his effort last night shouldn't get lost in the excitement and drama.

blog comments powered by Disqus




Rocket Fuel