05/14/07 9:17 PM ET
Notes: O's not sick over tough loss
Despite Sunday's nightmare ending, club remains upbeat
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
"I talked to them just briefly when we had our meetings. Basically, we admitted it to each other," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "That was a tough loss. There's no way of getting around it, and there wasn't a man on that field -- or a coach or a manager -- that wasn't putting their best effort out there."
The Orioles went into the ninth with a 5-0 lead over the Red Sox, but that advantage crumbled due to two pitching changes, a dropped popup and a lack of efficiency within the strike zone. Baltimore closer Chris Ray topped off the inning by breaking late to first base and dropping a shovel-pass on the potential game-ending forceout.
"It's probably one of the tougher losses I've had to suffer in my career in the big leagues, but that's the nature of the game," said left fielder Jay Payton. "You play for 27 outs, and until the 27th out is made, the other team has a chance to do something. ...We had every bit of confidence we were going to win that game, but until you get that last out, you've got to play the game hard and play it the right way."
"It was definitely a tough loss for us -- not only for the bullpen, for everybody," added reliever Danys Baez. "[Jeremy] Guthrie did a great job, and he definitely deserved to win that game. It's one of those things that you can't explain. I'm still thinking about it, and I can't believe it. We were two outs from winning the game -- not even one inning."
Baez, a former closer, came in for Guthrie after catcher Ramon Hernandez made an error on a popup. The veteran allowed two quick hits and was lifted for Ray, but he said he understood Perlozzo's strategy at that point. Baez said he would've liked to stay in and try to get out of the jam, but he also said that he understands his role.
"That's the manager's decision, and there's nothing you can do about it," he said. "We have a closer, and it was a save situation for Ray. ...You've got a closer, you've got a save situation -- you have to trust your closer. I gave up a double and a ground ball between third and shortstop. I was looking for a ground ball double play and didn't get it. Then it was a save situation, and I understand how good he's been."
In the end, everyone involved the importance of not making more of the game than necessary. Yes, it was a demoralizing defeat, but that morale effect doesn't have to last any longer than they let it.
"That hurts, but honestly, I don't really have a hangover over it," said designated hitter Jay Gibbons. "It would've been nice to win the series, but we have to take out of this that we played pretty well. We hung with a first place team. If we keep playing like that, we're going to win more than we blow like we did yesterday."
"That's why I'm glad we play everyday," Perlozzo said. "You can get out, get the next game in and see if we can't have something good happen for us. There were a lot of good things that happened yesterday in that game. ...It's just the end was horrible, but you've got to take some positives out of it. Jeremy was outstanding and it's a long season."
Firing line: Immediately after Sunday's game, some news sources began to speculate that Perlozzo's job could be in jeopardy. Mike Flanagan, Baltimore's executive vice president of baseball operations, wouldn't address those rumors head-on on Monday and refused to publicly evaluate the job his manager has done.
"All I can say at this time is we haven't had any internal discussions of that nature," he said.
When asked if the speculation is a natural development after a tough loss, Flanagan chose his words wisely.
"It does seem to be the nature of the beast, but again, we haven't had any discussions," he said. "We evaluate the club all the time. It's an ongoing process, and it's a long-view process."
Blast from the past: Chris Gomez got quite a shock Monday, when he learned that a former batboy from his Tampa Bay days would be the opposing pitcher on Tuesday. Jesse Litsch, a prospect in Toronto's organization, made the extraordinarily rare leap to realize his big-league dream and share the field with some of his role models.
"He's one of those kids you really liked. I talked to him a lot and hung out with him a lot," Gomez said. "We'd always talk baseball, because he was playing high school baseball all the time. He was talking about being drafted. You hope the best for him. You never think you're going to actually face him. It goes to show you how time flies."
Gomez had a similar experience happen with one of his own teammates. He said that back during his San Diego days, he had a current Oriole prospect run out and stand with him during the national anthem one day.
"Hayden Penn was one of those Little Leaguers. Next to me -- and [now] I'm his teammate. It's crazy," he said. "He told me about it in '05 when he was up. He was real respectful and said, 'I don't know how you're going to take this, but I ran out for the national anthem with you.' "
Quotable: "I just feel bad for Guthrie. It was our responsibility to shut down that game, but it is how it is. We've got to be focused on the game today. This is another day and another series. It was a tough game -- but only one game." -- Baez on the aftermath of the game and how the Orioles can move on
Coming up: The Orioles and Blue Jays will meet again Tuesday, with Litsch matched up against Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera. Litsch was 5-1 with an 0.98 ERA at Double-A New Hampshire.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.