ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - It looks like the Orioles can turn in a quality start with Jake Fox behind the plate.
Just when you think you’ve got this game figured out...
Brad Bergesen shut out the Rays on four hits, retiring 20 of the last 22 batters he faced in a 6-0 victory.
The Rays didn’t have a hit after Sam Fuld’s single with one out in the third inning.
“I think Brad showed what he’s capable of tonight,” Fox said. “We had a talk before we came into the game today and it’s no secret that he hasn’t been pitching as well as he wants to this season. I just said, ‘Let’s go out and have fun, let’s go out and compete, let’s just go out and play the game for what it is.’ And you saw that today. He pitched relaxed. He was throwing the ball well, he was hitting his spots. When he gave up a hit here and there, he wasn’t getting mad at himself. He was saying, ‘OK, let’s get the next guy, let’s compete, let’s go out and have a good time.’ And that’s what did. You could tell in his face he was having fun today, and I think that’s half the battle.”
Bergesen escaped a first-and-third, one-out jam in the first inning by getting Evan Longoria to hit into a double play. It might have been the most important moment of the game for Bergesen.
“It’s a great-hitting team here and you’re going to give up hits, you’re going to make mistakes and they’re going to get their hits and they’re going to square up some balls, but when you make a mistake, you’ve just got to move on to the next guy,” Fox said. “I think he’s been dwelling so much on some of the mistakes that he’s made, instead of moving on and getting past them. Today, I think you saw him really do that.
“That situation, first and third, he made a mistake, they’ve got some guys on base. Let’s get our way out of it now. I think he did a great job of pitching to the situations today. He did a great job of getting ground balls when he needed them, getting the fly balls and strikeouts when he needed them, and I think you saw what he’s capable of doing. He was pretty impressive.”
I don’t recall Bergesen throwing this many changeups. It was a big pitch for him today.
“This is my first time really catching him this season, so I really don’t know what his tendencies have been, but his changeup was on today,” Fox said. “I kept going to it all the time because it was on. And with all those lefties, his changeup played perfectly into those swings and he made the pitches when he had to.
“We didn’t use his slider and curveball as much as I’ve seen him use it, but when you’ve got your changeup working like that and fastball working like that, it’s a tough combination. We kept them off balance all day and that’s what you’ve got to do when you take the mound.”
Fox did more than catch Bergesen. He hit a two-run homer off Wade Davis to conclude a 10-pitch at-bat in the sixth inning.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘You know what, go up there, put the ball in play, square it up any way you can,’ and he made some darn good pitches,” Fox said. “I got myself in a 3-0 count because I went up there looking for a specific pitch in a specific spot early and he didn’t throw it there and I found myself up 3-0, and then it became a battle because I knew he was basically going to throw me everything he had. I just kept telling myself, ‘Square it up. Square it up any way you can,’ and finally he made a mistake and I got it.
“When you go up in that situation, it’s more than just for you, it’s for the team because there’s a runner on third base. You know if you get that run across, it’s going to help your pitcher settle in more and feel more comfortable. I knew in that situation I had to put the ball in play and square it up any way I could.”
Fox doesn’t know when he’ll play again. Such is the life of a backup catcher/utility player.
“I think what you’re finally seeing is everybody getting settled in their roles,” he said. “For me, I’m a once or twice a week kind of guy and I’ve never really had that job before, so it took me a while to find a rhythm, and hopefully I found some things that work. J.P. (Jim Presley) and I have been working really hard to figure out how we’re going to be successful with the limited number of at-bats. I finally made some adjustments that I think might work, but we’ve still got to keep working because there’s always room for improvement.
“Guys are really starting to see what their role is and they’re starting to move in the right direction. I think everybody knew it was just a matter of time before this team came together and everybody’s kind of getting settled in with each other and knowing each other. Maybe it took a little longer than we anticipated, but we’re moving in the right direction.”