CALL IT inspiring. Call it impressive.
Or call it what manager Lee Mazzilli did: The Orioles' best win of the young season.
Beating the Minnesota Twins, 7-4, on an afternoon when the planet's best young left-hander, 2004 Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana, pitches is tough enough.
Doing it with two of your best right-handed hitters out of the lineup is darn near heroic.
It showed that this team has heart, tenacity, grit or whatever sports cliche du jour is most appropriate.
But don't be fooled.
If this team is going to keep up its surprising winning ways and challenge for the postseason, it needs reinforcements a little more battle-ready than two hard-nosed rookies making their major league debuts.
What it really needs is a solid right-handed-hitting outfielder. It was a need last season. It was a need six weeks ago. It's a certainty now.
Keith Reed, the former first-round pick who has toiled in the minors for six years, is a great story. And Jeff Fiorentino, a 2004 draftee who was playing in Single-A moments ago, could be a future star.
Each is right-handed and each is considered a good defender, and that's what the Orioles deemed they needed now that they have lost starting right fielder Sammy Sosa (staph infection) and center fielder Luis Matos (broken right ring finger) for the time being.
"It's tough to replace offense in their absence," said team vice president Mike Flanagan. "So we thought we'd strengthen ourselves defensively."
That's a fine plan. For today. For a stop-gap.
But this team can't have Fiorentino and Reed making up half of its bench for an extended period and expect to keep flourishing. Inexperienced kids such as Tim Raines and Jose Morban are appropriate bench riders if you're a perennial fourth-place team.
A serious postseason contender needs better depth and more choices. And that includes scrapping your all left-handed outfield against a tough left-hander.
After being the worst hitting team against left-handers in 2004, the Orioles were second in the league against them coming into yesterday's game. But that should take a hit with Matos (second on the team with a .370 average vs. lefties) and Sosa (fourth, .320) out.
None of this is news to the Orioles' front office. It's been quietly looking for a right-handed outfield bat for months.
Now, though, the volume needs to be turned up.
That's easier said than done, of course.
Flanagan stresses it has to be the right deal, the right fit. Mazzilli agrees.
"We are pretty much left-handed in the outfield right now," Mazzilli said. "You would always like to get some kind of right-handed bat if you could, but you are not going to look to get any right-handed bat for the sake of getting one, that's not what you want to do."
The Orioles could have made a run at Michael Restovich, the 26-year-old corner outfielder who was traded by Colorado to Pittsburgh yesterday. But the power hitter is considered limited defensively and he's already failed to stick with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Rockies this season, not exactly a resounding endorsement.
There are other players on the Orioles' radar. But nothing seems imminent. Not for an organization that is notoriously cautious in pulling the trade trigger.
They'd be intrigued if Texas outfielder Kevin Mench, a Delaware native, became available. And the Rangers certainly need bullpen help.
But industry sources say the Rangers are trying to fill that gap internally first, and that Mench is still off limits.
New York Mets outfielder Mike Cameron was a popular trade candidate this offseason after the Mets acquired center fielder Carlos Beltran, pushing the Gold Glove-winning Cameron to right.
This spring he had health (wrist) and attitude questions, both which seem to be behind him. He is batting nearly .500 since coming off the disabled list and with his heir apparent, Victor Diaz, now struggling, the Mets may want to keep Cameron at least until the All Star break.
Texas' Gary Matthews, a switch-hitter, could be available, but the Orioles don't have interest in bringing him back, one team source said.
And there are other intriguing possibilities, such as the Rockies' trio of right-handed outfielders Preston Wilson, Dustan Mohr and Matt Holliday and former Orioles clubhouse favorite Jeff Conine of Florida.
The Orioles likely would have to give up a reliever such as Jorge Julio or John Parrish to get somebody they covet. It would be a steep price, but the bullpen is one place they have depth.
Outfield, however, is not. Especially if Sosa and Matos don't return quickly.
Yesterday, the Orioles scored four runs against one of the toughest left-handers they will face all season.
It was a great win, maybe the best so far.
Grit, tenacity and heart can make up for deficiencies elsewhere.
But, sometimes, you need more. To keep a dream season going, this may be one of those times.