TORONTO -- A day after getting much of the blame for the Orioles' devastating 6-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox, manager Sam Perlozzo defended his decision to remove Jeremy Guthrie two outs shy of a complete-game shutout and said he hasn't paid attention to fans calling for his job.
Speaking before last night's series opener with the Toronto Blue Jays, Perlozzo said he usually doesn't read the newspapers or listen to talk radio when the team isn't going well, so he is not aware of the mounting criticism. But he accepted that he is going to get some of the blame when the Orioles struggle.
"My focus has to be on the ballclub, and I have to have a clear head when I go on the field," he said. "I have to do that for my team. That's part of the job. Part of the job is when things don't go right, I am going to be the guy that gets blamed. That's all right. I'd rather have them blame me than blame my players."
Asked yesterday whether Perlozzo's job was in jeopardy, executive vice president Mike Flanagan said: "We haven't had any internal discussions about it. We evaluate our manager and players all the time."
Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who would have the final say on the decision, couldn't be reached to comment.
Perlozzo, who has a 111-145 record since being named interim manager of the club after Lee Mazzilli was fired in August 2005, has come under fire recently for a series of decisions.
None was more scrutinized than his choice to take out Guthrie after 8 1/3 innings Sunday, after an error by catcher Ramon Hernandez. Guthrie dominated the Red Sox and had thrown only 91 pitches, but because he hadn't thrown more than 72 in a game all year, Perlozzo chose to go to the bullpen.
The Red Sox scored six runs off setup man Danys Baez and closer Chris Ray to deal the Orioles their first loss in franchise history in a game in which they took a five-run lead into the ninth inning. While acknowledging that it was a terrible loss, Perlozzo said he thinks the defeat has gotten blown out of proportion.
"My first responsibility is to the ballclub," he said. "When he went out, it's Jeremy Guthrie. When the first guy gets on, it's the Baltimore Orioles. I had my two best relievers ready to go to get two outs [with] a five-run lead. I thought it was my duty not to let that game get out of hand. If I had a crystal ball, we might have done something a little different. But, at the same time, I have to worry about Jeremy Guthrie over the long haul. I can't be just stretching him out just for the sake of doing it.
"It just didn't work out. But I think you take that any day of the week. You have Danys Baez and Chris Ray with a five-run lead and they only need to get two outs? You take that any day."
Asked about the decision, several players said it was up to Perlozzo and it did no good to analyze it after the fact.
"I feel for Guthrie and my teammates," reliever Jamie Walker said. "It was fun to watch for 8 1/3 innings. How many times do you get a chance to throw a shutout in Fenway Park? But that's not my decision and it's not Guthrie's. It's the manager's."
It's not the first time Perlozzo has been scrutinized for a decision. Just a day earlier in Boston, the manager was questioned about allowing long reliever Jon Leicester to stay in the game after the Orioles had tied the score with three runs in the sixth off Curt Schilling. Perlozzo's reasoning was that he wanted to rest Walker and Chad Bradford and that Leicester was still throwing well.
Leicester gave up the go-ahead run in the sixth and then walked three straight batters in the seventh before leaving with an injury. The Orioles lost, 13-4.
On April 7, Perlozzo was roundly criticized after the Orioles' 10-7 loss to the New York Yankees for allowing Baez, rather than Walker, his left-handed specialist, to face Jason Giambi in the eighth inning. Giambi hit a three-run homer and the Orioles lost the game in the ninth inning on Alex Rodriguez's grand slam.
From the start of spring training, Perlozzo's demeanor has been far more serious than it was last season. He acknowledged that this is an important season for him and the franchise. He is in the second year of a three-year contract.
"I am not concerned so much about [job] security," Perlozzo said. "I am really not. I am more concerned about I want this team to do well. I don't want it to fail. I want to be the guy that makes this team get better and get over the hump. That would bother me. If I get fired, I am going to get a job. I'll get a job somewhere in baseball doing something. I am not scared of losing a job. I just want this club to do better."
In the past two weeks, Kevin Millar and Jay Gibbons have expressed frustration about their playing time, saying Perlozzo hasn't informed them of their roles.