Jason Berken is making his first start today at Triple-A Norfolk, and he pulled off a great escape in the second inning.
According to the play-by-play on minorleaguebaseball.com, Louisville loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning on consecutive singles into center field. One of the hits came from former major league outfielder Jeremy Hermida.
Berken struck out the next two batters and induced a grounder that shortstop Blake Davis turned into a force at second base.
Berken had retired the side in order in the first inning on a fly ball and two grounders. He's thrown 28 pitches, including 20 for strikes.
The Orioles want to expand Berken's innings and pitch counts at Norfolk while also hoping that he regains his command. He's still projected as a reliever in the majors, but he becomes an option for the Orioles' rotation later this summer if there's an opening.
Berken allowed 15 runs (14 earned) and 22 hits, with eight walks, in his last nine appearances covering 8 2/3 innings before the Orioles optioned him to Norfolk. His ERA increased to 7.94.
Update: Berken allowed two hits in a scoreless third. He's scattered five hits over three innings, with no walks and three strikeouts. He fanned Reds No. 1 pick Yonder Alonso in the third.
Berken has thrown 43 pitches, 28 for strikes.