Backing off Berken

The Orioles will try to back off right-hander Jason Berken for the next day or two to give the struggling reliever -who has thrown an American League-leading 60 1/3 innings — a much-needed break.

Manager Buck Showalter said the hope is that resting Berken will “freshen him up a little bit”, and he has talked with pitching coach Rick Kranitz about monitoring Berken’s second-half innings.

A former starter who made his first Opening Day roster as the team’s long man, Berken’s emergence has been one of this season’s biggest surprises. But after allowing just eight earned runs over 45 innings in his first 27 games, Berken’s effectiveness has waned, giving way to 13 runs in his last 16 2/3 innings.

Berken, who was conferring with Kranitz on Sunday morning, said he’s rushing his delivery a little bit and the deception on his pitches isn’t as sharp as earlier in the year.

“[I’m] trying to do too much with the pitch, trying to make it break more than what it is,” said Berken, who allowed two earned runs over 1 1/3 innings on Saturday night, and was charged with the loss.  “With me, it seems like when I try to do less I get better results, so it’s trying to stay within myself and making my delivery compact and easy.”

Given that it’s a minor adjustment, Berken said he’s not in panic mode and just needs to go after opposing batters a little more aggressively, to stay out of favorable hitting counts.  He’s walked five batters in his last eight outings, after issuing just 14 free passes in his previous 32.  Following Friday’s two-out walk to Alexei Ramirez, who scored on the following double, Berken called his lack of location “not acceptable” and was more upset about the free pass than the hits.

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