Orioles' Olson Gets By Without His Best Stuff

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 17, 2008

BALTIMORE, May 16 -- Warming up in the bullpen prior to last night's interleague game with the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Garrett Olson said he "felt good."

Olson was making just his fourth start this season and had been solid in his previous outings after being recalled from Class AAA Norfolk on April 29, going 2-0 with an ERA of 2.95.

But after just three batters, the Nationals already had tagged the 24-year-old starter for two runs and Olson said he knew there was a possibility "it could be a long day."

"You don't look forward to those outings," Olson said. "But sometimes it happens."

Olson was hit hard throughout the contest and gave up three earned runs on nine hits in five innings. But the young pitcher never panicked, and the support of his defense and the continued come-from-behind play of his offense helped the Orioles to a 5-3 win.

For Orioles Manager Dave Trembley, the performance was an important one for Olson, whom he believed showed maturity in just his 11th career major league start.

"Olson learned how to pitch tonight without his best stuff and I give him a lot of credit, because I don't know whether he would have been able to do that last year," Trembley said. "From the first hitter, he didn't have real good velocity, he didn't have real good finish on his pitches, but he competed. They hit a lot of hard outs. He put a zero up when we needed to after we scored, and I think it's a real credit what he did for five innings."

Olson had plenty of help from the defense behind him, with third baseman Melvin Mora making a great play on a Cristian Guzmán grounder and left fielder Luke Scott limiting Elijah Dukes's drive in the fourth to a deep sacrifice fly.

The offense also continued to show its fight, coming back from deficits twice en route to a third consecutive come-from-behind victory.

After the game, Olson praised his team and its ability to come back. "Some people call it 'Orioles magic,' I guess," he said. That "magic," he added, gave him confidence on the mound despite his struggles.

"I really feel like it's just a sense of attitude everybody has, the confidence and the presence here," Olson said. "Even if we fall behind we're still going to battle and they clearly showed that tonight."

Despite giving up nine hits, Olson was able to draw on some positives, pointing to the fact that he did not walk a batter, an encouraging sign for a pitcher who averaged four walks per start last season and felt it "clearly has been my problem at the end of last season and then this year in spring training."

Olson threw 70 pitches, 51 for strikes, and said he focused on "attacking the zone," even if the Nationals were hitting the ball hard. Olson has now given up three earned runs or less in all four of his starts this season.

And just as Trembley had pointed out, the importance of battling through the rough outing and picking up a win was not lost on Olson, either.

"You're not going to have your 'A' game for maybe, out of 30 starts a year, maybe you have it 10 or less," Olson said. "There's going to be a big chunk of games where you just got to battle and find it."

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