Don't blame Trembley for Orioles' ugly start

Manager knows it's time to start winning

April 12, 2010|By Kevin Cowherd

Without fear of argument, I think we can say there are better ways to start the season than how the Orioles have.

Let's look at what's happened so far:

•They lost 5-2 Sunday and were swept by the rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays in the first home series of the season.

•Their All-Star second baseman - the guy with the tricky herniated disk in his back - has an abdominal strain that's expected to land him on the disabled list today.

•Their new $12 million closer is getting hit like a piñata and blowing saves, and is now being kept out of pressure situations so he can work on his mechanics - and, presumably, his psyche, too. (Keeping a closer out of pressure situations - that's like keeping a member of the bomb squad out of pressure situations, isn't it?)

Anyway, all that would be about two months' worth of drama for any other ballclub, wouldn't it?

But the season's just six games old.

Anyone feel like trading jobs with Dave Trembley right now?

Unfortunately for the Orioles, things definitely took a swift and sudden turn for the worse Sunday on a picture-perfect afternoon at Camden Yards.

Here was Kevin Millwood, cruising with a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning, looking like Roy Halladay after retiring 23 of 26 Blue Jays.

Then with two outs, the Jays' No. 9 hitter, John McDonald, hit a routine grounder to third.

Except ... the way the Orioles are going right now, nothing is ever routine.

At the last second, the ball took a bad hop on Miguel Tejada, and he was charged with a tough error.

Given new life, the Blue Jays touched Millwood for back-to-back homers. Jose Bautista hit a soaring shot that almost drew rain before it landed in the left-field stands.

And Alex Gonzalez followed with a line drive to the same place that nearly took out the beer guy.

And that, as they say, was the ballgame.

"When things aren't going right for you and you give the other team a four-out inning, that's what happens," Trembley said. "And certainly that's what happened today. We gave 'em a four-out inning with a guy that pitched a tremendous game."

Tejada, who's played a solid third base so far, felt terrible about the error.

Millwood "pitched a great game," Tejada said. "I'm really sorry this happened. I wish I could catch the ball and he would win the game. But what can I do? Just come back tomorrow, is all."

He'd better come back tomorrow - there are still another 156 games to go this season.

But the loss drops the Orioles' record to 1-5. Again, not the way you want to start a season and not the way to give hope to your fan base, not after 12 losing seasons in a row.

Yet the fact is, this team has been in every game so far, having lost all five by three runs or fewer. Take away new closer Michael Gonzalez's two blowups, and the record would be that much better.

Sure, it's an ugly start. But the team's not getting blown out and is playing decent baseball for the most part.

Which is the main reason I don't see how you blame Trembley for any of this.

Personally, I like the tone Trembley has set for this ballclub.

More than anyone, he knows it's all about wins and losses this season and that nobody in Orioles Nation wants to hear excuses anymore.

That's one reason he played his regular lineup Sunday - minus the ailing Roberts and Garrett Atkins (sore shin) - on a day when most teams give their reserves playing time.

"I'm putting the lineup together one game at a time," he told the media before the game. "You know, I always did it two or three days in advance. I'm not doing that any longer. We're going to play to win. Tomorrow doesn't matter to me."

So what do you do if you're Trembley and your team's off to a 1-5 start?

You walk a fine line trying not to hit the panic button, but also making it clear that the wins better come soon and that the days of players developing on the job without being held accountable are over.

"That was in 2008 and 2009," he said. "I'm taking a different direction. Player development is over. I did player development at the major league level for 2 1/2 years. It's over."

Here's how much things have changed for Trembley: Asked Sunday if he would use the injured Atkins late in the game if he had to, Trembley didn't hesitate.

"I'd use my mother late if I had to," he said with a laugh.

Luckily, it hasn't come to that yet.

Then again, the season is still young.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

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