Every young pitcher coming to the big leagues for the first time has to go through the adjustment process of facing experienced and patient major league hitters.
Big league hitters know what they want to hit and they are patient enough to wait out a pitcher, especially an inexperienced one.
Brad Bergesen has held his own in his first six starts for the Orioles, and his loss in New York against the Yankees will go a long way toward his continuing education, especially his battle in the bottom of the first inning against Alex Rodriguez.
Bergesen got ahead of Rodriguez 0-2 on two pitches but he couldn't put the Yankees 3B away. Rodriguez fouled off several good pitches by Bergesen to prolong the at bat and eventually worked the count full at 3-2.
And that's where Rodriguez won the battle. Bergesen threw a fast ball that Rodriguez jumped on and hit it out to left field for a two-run home run. It was an eight-pitch at bat and the veteran beat the rookie.
Bergesen isn't alone. The home run by Rodriguez was the 558th of his career. He's made a living hitting home runs against every style of pitcher since his first homer in 1995.
But the mistake pitch will help Bergesen. There were two outs in the inning and first base was open. The key was knowing what to throw after Rodriguez worked the count to 3-2. Bergesen chose the fastball which wasn't necessarily the wrong pitch, but the location was where he made the mistake. It was exactly where Rodriguez likes it and he didn't miss it. There's no doubt that will go into the memory bank for Bergesen.
What followed that Rodriguez home run was very encouraging for Bergesen. He retired 13 consecutive Yankee hitters from the final out of the first inning through the 5th inning, including getting Rodriguez on a groundout during his next at bat. Bergesen adjusted and he pitched his way through a tough Yankees lineup.
Bergesen was eventually chased from the game in the 7th inning. He got himself in trouble by walking back to back hitters after getting the first out of the inning. He took the loss but gave the Orioles 6 1/3 innings and learned a valuable pitching lesson in one of the hardest environments for any visiting pitcher to pitch, let alone a 23-year-old rookie making his 6th major league start.
Brad Bergesen is smart and he can pitch. And every lesson learned will make him better and better. Even in defeat he passed a tough test. The good young players learn from adversity. We'll all watch as Bergesen takes the Yankee Stadium lesson and adjusts.
It's a process, and Bergesen is gaining valuable experience to become a pitcher the Orioles can count on.