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For Loewen the Best is Yet to Come

By Joe DiBlasi

Online Exclusive
 
Ten years ago, at the age of 12, he pitched in the Little League World Series. Five years ago, at 17, he hurled a no-hitter against the Pirates' Dominican summer team. Last Saturday, at 22, he carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards. The Orioles shut out the Bronx Bombers 5-0 and Adam Loewen notched his second consecutive victory as a major leaguer.

When Oriole skipper Sam Perlozzo visited the mound in the seventh inning on Saturday, he asked Loewen if he was tired. It was 95 degrees, but Loewen said, "I don’t get tired.”

Three weeks ago Loewen was pitching for the Ottawa Lynx. He had been sent back down to the minors after his first stint with the Orioles in late May and June. In the three weeks in the minors, Loewen noticed differences between the minors and the majors. "You can get away with throwing a good pitch right over the plate at the lower level, but not up here,” he said.

The way Loewen threw Saturday, it didn't matter who the opponent was. Perlozzo, who has said all along that Loewen has the tools, was very pleased with the work of the 6-foot-6 left-hander. "He's improving every day and could easily work his way into the regular rotation," he said.

Perlozzo continues to search for a solid rotation. Of the original starting five this season, only Erik Bedard has been able to win consistently. Kris Benson performed well early but has been nursing a sore elbow of late and Daniel Cabrera was sent to the minors after struggling mightily with his control and was only recently recalled. Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen have both been moved to the bullpen after being unable to maintain low ERAs and win ballgames.

If these five, along with Loewen and prospect Hayden Penn, were to live up to their potential, the Orioles would have a formidable starting corp. But with only Bedard and Benson producing, the Orioles again find themselves in fourth place.

Still, pitching coach Leo Mazzone thinks the future is bright. He called Bedard one of the top lefties in the league and said Loewen is a very hard worker with good stuff. He also sees bright sports in the bullpen, and said closer Chris Ray is “a solid closer in the making.”

The building blocks are in place.

Posted August 11, 2006