Berken optioned, Showalter speaks

Manager Buck Showalter said it's "very possible" that the Orioles make at least one roster move to aid their bullpen.

It happened before I left the press box.

The Orioles optioned reliever Jason Berken to Triple-A Norfolk after he allowed six runs in one inning. A corresponding move will be announced tomorrow, but you can expect Alfredo Simon to be removed from the restricted list and placed on the 25- and 40-man rosters.

Buck Showalter meets with the media to talk about the O's 17-5 loss to the Nationals

I'll point out again that infielder Cesar Izturis can be transferred to the 60-day disabled list to create room on the 40-man.

Berken has allowed 15 runs (14 earned) and 22 hits, with eight walks, in his last nine appearances covering 8 2/3 innings. His ERA is up to 7.94.

So how tough was it for Showalter to sit in the dugout and watch the Orioles take a 17-5 beating from the punchless Nationals?

"I think it's tough on the players, too," he said. "We threw, what, over 200 pitches? Jake (Arrieta) just couldn't get very deep. He had pretty good stuff, but his command just wasn't there. I think we counted 19 foul balls in that second inning and we didn't have many swings and misses, that's for sure. It's frustrating."

Berken continues to have command issues.

"He's up a lot," Showalter said. "We've seen him pitch a lot better and we know he's capable of better. He just can't seem to catch a groove where he can really stay in a groove. Up a lot, something we never saw a lot. He's a guy who could really pound the fastball down, away from his arm side and spin a ball for a strike. Just hasn't been the same guy."

The entire bullpen seems to be falling apart at once, so it's not like Showalter can hide one reliever.

"We had Berk long and that was it tonight," he said. "We were really hoping to get through the fifth or sixth with Jake, and when the pitches starting piling up, I wasn't going to let him go any more. We'll have to look at it and see if we need to do something because Berk was about our length tonight and wasn't able to provide it."

Asked if he has a sense of where his team is heading, Showalter replied, "I don't think anybody's that sure of themselves. I've got some suspicions of what we're capable of and what we have to do to get there. We've got a young pitching staff. You've got a lot of unknowns about what they're going to bring. And we've got some guys who aren't necessarily young who are having their challenges, too. There's an ebb and flow to every season, but I'm not smart enough to sit here and tell you exactly what's going to happen. That's why we play the games."

This roster remains in a state of flux.Two pitchers go down, two position players come up and it's still not settled.

"It's all pitching-dictated," Showalter said. "When a guy has an outing like Bergy (Brad Bergesen) had last night and Jake had tonight, it affects other people, too. You have to do things to keep yourself covered. We had hoped that we'd get deeper in the game and not have to use some of the people the length we had to use them tonight and put them in positions that they really shouldn't be pitching in."

Are the Orioles still smarting from that 15-inning game against the Yankees or the blown 6-0 lead in Boston? Is this Hangover III?

"Maybe physically," he said. "It's not going to be the last time. We've got three doubleheaders. It's part of the challenge and it's part of growing up as a young player and a young team. That's part of the job description. As far as lingering and things like that, I guess it's probably 'yes' somewhat, but you can't stay with it too long. I've seen veteran players like the Yankees have, stuff like that affects them. Guys aren't robots. They have emotions and feelings, too. They've got a lot of want-to and that's what's really frustrating for a guy like Jason Berken, who's almost wanting it too much. I think Gonzo (Michael Gonzalez) is going through that some, too. It's tough as a relief pitcher when you're not pitching multiple innings. You have a bad start as a starter and you go back out there in five days and hang six or seven zeros up there, you've got an opportunity. But as a relief pitcher you're trying to get back three or four bad outings, tough outings, with one outing and it doesn't work that way."

Tonight's loss had to be harder to swallow because Washington had scored 12 runs in their last five games.

"I'd be less than honest if I didn't say that you think about that somewhat, but they're major league hitters who are capable of better, just like our guys are," Showalter said. "I think it was probably a given they were going to hit better as the season progresses. It's just unfortunate it was against us tonight."

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