Steady Bergman making case for rotation

Mariners could keep starter in staff after strong outing vs. Rangers

Steady Bergman making case for rotation

ARLINGTON -- Christian Bergman has been around long enough to know the score. The 29-year-old right-hander has filled in very well at times over the past six weeks for an injury-plagued Mariners rotation, but the clock is ticking with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma expected to return by next weekend.

Every game is an audition for Bergman, and he delivered another reminder of his upside on Sunday by holding the Rangers to two runs and four hits over 5 2/3 innings to pick up the win in a much-needed 7-3 victory for the Mariners.

"That doesn't change my job," Bergman said of the Mariners' impending decision. "My job is to go out and win games and contribute to the team, so that's what I'm going to do."

Mariners manager Scott Servais said no decision has been made yet on who will be the odd men out when Seattle's veterans return, though clearly Bergman is a long shot at this point to remain in a rotation that also has James Paxton and Ariel Miranda with definite spots, rookie Sam Gaviglio pitching well and veteran Yovani Gallardo not having any Minor League options.

"We'll wait and see," Servais said. "We've got guys coming back. We'll talk about it when we get back to Seattle. He's done a great job for us. I know he's had a couple where he stubbed his toe and they put good numbers up on him, but for the most part he's been very consistent."

On the heels of rough outings by Miranda and Paxton in back-to-back 10-4 losses to the Rangers, Bergman's ability to outpitch Texas standout Yu Darvish was a magnificent gem indeed.

Though Bergman's overall numbers don't look enticing at 4-4 with a 5.44 ERA in nine games (eight starts), one needs to dig a little deeper to see what he's been able to do since being called up in early May.

When Bergman has been bad this year, he's been really bad. In two rough outings -- at Washington and Minnesota -- he gave up 19 runs and 24 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

But in Bergman's other seven appearances, including six starts, he is 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA. And now it's possible Bergman might be worth keeping in the rotation, or possibly in long relief -- even when Hernandez and Iwakuma return.

Does Bergman feel he's shown enough to deserve to stay in the mix?

"You'd have to ask them," Bergman said. "There's been some bumps in the road, but that's the product of a long season. Those things are going to happen and the worst thing you can do is let those things bleed into the next game. It's in the past, and what's happened has happened. The goal is to go out and win the game today."

Bergman did that Sunday in efficient fashion. He gave up a walk and two-run homer to Carlos Gomez in the second inning, but otherwise, he didn't allow a runner past first base in a 77-pitch outing on a muggy 95-degree afternoon at Globe Life Park.

"It was good to get those early runs," Bergman said after getting spotted a 4-0 lead in the first. "Our offense did a good job jumping all over them so they had to fight back uphill. It's great to be able to settle in, be aggressive and attack.

"They're a very aggressive team. If you look at the numbers, they don't hit off-speed as well so we had to adjust our plan accordingly, and it ended up working out pretty well."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.