With Brian Matusz coming back Wednesday and a few off days coming up, the Orioles shipped out both Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman on Sunday and will go with a four-man rotation for now.
Bergesen, who had the highest ERA of the Orioles’ five starters this year, was the obvious choice to go to make room for Matusz. He was 1-6 with a 5.36 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance. He actually pitched his first career shutout against the Rays just two weeks ago, but the Orioles had lost his eight other starts this season.
Tillman’s departure is a surprise. He had a 1.33 ERA in his last four starts, though it’s worth noting that he pitched a total of 20 1/3 innings in those games. For the season, he was 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 10 starts.
The Orioles don’t have anyone in Triple-A worthy of an opportunity — Norfolk’s only starter with a sub-5.00 ERA is veteran lefty Chris George and he’s at 4.66 — so odds are that Tillman will return as soon as the team goes back to five starters.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.