Berken's turn to make positive mark

Berken's turn to make positive mark

BALTIMORE -- Entering this week, Orioles pitchers Rich Hill and Jason Berken knew they were going to be under pressure.

That's not to suggest that any other start is without pressure, as players and coaches will quickly admit, but for Hill and Berken, their starts this week may as well be their final chances to keep their spot in the Major Leagues.

With rookie pitcher Chris Tillman expected to make his big league debut Wednesday, Orioles manager Dave Trembley was clear that he won't be running a six-man rotation, meaning either Hill or Berken, both of whom have struggled lately, will likely be reassigned to the Minor Leagues later this week.

And after what could be Hill's final chance to prove he belongs in the team's starting rotation didn't exactly go as smooth as he would've hoped Monday, it's now Berken's chance to solidify his name on the team, and snap a eight-game losing streak.

"I think those guys understand, we're not going to use a six-man rotation," Trembley said. "That's not going to happen right now. We talked about perhaps doing a six-man rotation and giving guys extra time in September. We're not doing that now. It's a very competitive game, and I think we've done the very best we can to make sure we give guys an opportunity. What they do with that opportunity is up to them."

Hill got the start Monday against the Royals, but lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and three walks on 61 pitches. The southpaw struggled to locate his pitches during most of his outing, and left the game with his team trailing. Hill has not won a start since June 19 against Philadelphia, and admitted Monday it's becoming harder to stay upbeat.

"It's not easy," Hill said," [especially when] you don't go out there and help the team win. You're not helping the team even stay competitive in games. It's tough to stay upbeat, definitely."

That leaves the door open for Berken. After winning his Major League debut, the rookie has lost his past eight decisions, compiling an ERA of 6.55.

Opposite Berken will be Brian Bannister, who will look to earn his seventh win of the season. Bannister has faced the Orioles just once in his career, giving up two hits and two walks over eight scoreless innings in a win.

Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Jason Berken (1-8, 6.55 ERA)
Berken has given up at least two earned runs in 10 of his 11 outings, and has pitched at least six innings just once since June 24.

KC: RHP Brian Bannister (6-7, 3.76 ERA)
Bannister has not won in his last three starts despite pitching pretty well. He took a 1-0 loss in a brilliant performance at Boston, then had no decisions in losses to Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. In each of the latter two games, he left with a 6-4 lead but the bullpen lost it.

Aubrey Huff snapped an 0-for-14 hitless skid with a single in the first inning Monday. ... Adam Jones hit his 15th home run of the season, a solo shot to center field Monday. Nine of Jones' 15 home runs have tied the game or given the Orioles the lead. ... Nolan Reimold stole second base in the third inning Monday, marking his third stolen base in the team's past four games.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Royals (Zack Greinke, 10-6, 2.04) at Orioles (Chris Tillman, Major League debut), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Royals (Luke Hochevar, 6-3, 4.84) at Orioles (Brad Bergesen, 6-5, 3.56), 12:35 p.m. ET
• Friday: Red Sox (John Smoltz, 1-4, 7.04) at Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 7-9, 5.21), 7:05 p.m. ET

Brian Eller is an associate reporter at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.