Greeting cards are lined up along the shelves in Sam Perlozzo's office, friends and former colleagues expressing their joy in verse after he was named Orioles interim manager last month. Not one of them offers condolences.
Those sentiments will come if Perlozzo loses his job. Considering how the Orioles are playing, he might be pitied more if he keeps it.
The New York Yankees scored six runs in the fourth inning last night, half of them coming on Jason Giambi's homer, and they batted around twice while taking over sole possession of first place in the American League East with an 11-3 victory over the Orioles before an announced crowd of 43,039 at Camden Yards.
Giambi connected off Rodrigo Lopez (14-12) with two outs after Derek Jeter walked with the bases loaded to break a scoreless tie and Alex Rodriguez stroked a two-run double.
The Yankees lost their shutout in the ninth when Ed Rogers drilled a two-run homer off reliever Alan Embree - his first major league hit in his fourth career at-bat. The others came in 2002.
"We've got to score some runs," Perlozzo said. "We've got to do a whole lot of things we haven't been doing."
Though his record as Lee Mazzilli's replacement stands at 19-30, Perlozzo is confident, at least publicly, that he'll return in 2006.
"I feel like I've got the job myself," he said. "I don't think I've done anything to lose it. I'm playing it like I've got it. If there's another way to play it, let me know."
He needs the Orioles to play better. They've lost a season-high nine in a row and are 23-46 since the break, the worst record in the majors. Given the chance to be spoilers, their only influence might be whether Perlozzo stays or goes.
"It's a challenge, but I also sense these guys are putting out enough effort for us," he said. "Some of the things that you all may see is a little picky. You'll see some guys who get flat-out frustrated that they didn't get a hit. We've been battling offensively for several months now. So what you see that you may construe as lack of effort is just frustration because they're trying so darned hard.
"As far as I'm concerned, we're trying to do everything we can to win. I don't want anyone to think this club is ever going to shut down, especially right now. We can't afford to do that. It is my job to make sure we don't do that, and I expect to get that done."
The top half of the fourth inning lasted 27 minutes, but the Orioles' misery might not end until the schedule does. They issued 10 walks and were subjected to a five-run sixth against relievers Eric DuBose and Jason Grimsley. A crowd that's usually full of energy with the Yankees in town seemed almost bored.
"It wasn't a good night, plain and simple," Perlozzo said. "I'm glad it's over and I can't wait for tomorrow."
Randy Johnson (16-8) went six innings and blanked the Orioles on four hits after holding them to one run in his previous start. Removed from the pennant race long ago, the Orioles are trying to stay motivated and not completely fold in the final week of the season. Jobs are on the line. Perlozzo understands this more than anyone.
Earlier in the day, Perlozzo sat in his office with team executives Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, who also face uncertain futures as their contracts are set to expire. Perlozzo said he hasn't been given any indication that he'll meet with them soon to discuss his status.
"I would assume they would let me know," he said. "I don't think I have to go out and pursue what's going on. I would think something would be said to me in a fairly short period of time. If it were to go into a day after the season, I might call and find out what's going on. But I think they've got a handle on what they're doing and I'm sure it's certainly not intentional for them to drag anything out."
Perlozzo continues to rely mostly on his veterans while writing out his lineups, though he must lean heavily to the right when preparing for Johnson. Once again, David Newhan batted ninth last night as the only left-handed hitter, and his diving catch in right field prevented more runs from scoring in the sixth. "There aren't a whole lot of people we need to get in there who are really young kids," he said. "And right now, you can't be throwing those kinds of kids out there against the Yankees. When we play Tampa, you might see a few other guys. I'm trying to put as many big league players on the field as we've got. Against the Yankees, that's what we've got to do." Notes -- The start of the game was delayed 1:26 because of rain, and the weather forced both teams into the dugout for 25 minutes in the top of the first. ... Second baseman Brian Roberts could undergo surgery to reattach a tendon in his left elbow by the end of the week. "I think he's leaning on getting it done by Thursday or Friday," Perlozzo said.