06/25/09 12:19 AM ET
Miscues hurt Orioles against Marlins
Gaffes on basepaths and in the field contribute to loss
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Manager Dave Trembley often employs a "24-hour rule," a mechanism that ensures he never speaks tersely to a player after a difficult moment. That rule went out the window on Wednesday, when Trembley calmly and clearly delivered a message to Felix Pie through the media after his team's 5-2 loss to Florida.
Trembley had two plays in mind regarding Pie -- a baserunning mistake that stole momentum in the first inning and a lackadaisical play in the outfield in the seventh that led to one of Florida's late insurance runs. Trembley minced no words regarding the latter effort, singling out Pie's play and setting the record straight.
"You don't win baseball games by doing that," said Trembley, a noted adherent to fundamental defense. "You give baseball games away by doing that. That's not what it's all about here, and that's not what the majority of guys here are all about. It happens. It's unfortunate, but it's not acceptable. It's that simple."
The Orioles made two errors in the game -- neither by Pie -- but it was the play in the seventh that drew Trembley's ire. Florida's Emilio Bonifacio attempted to steal second base, and catcher Matt Wieters threw wildly into center. But instead of quickly returning the ball, Pie paused, allowing Bonifacio to round third and run for home.
The speedster scored ahead of a relay throw, giving the Marlins a two-run lead and pointing them toward the finish line. The Orioles had also made an error in the first inning that led to an unearned run, but after his team had slowly worked its way back into the game, Trembley felt that seventh-inning miscue all but decided things.
"We've said that a lot of the success we've had recently has been because we've played very good baseball, and we've played all 27 outs," said Trembley, slowly repeating one of his favorite mantras. "But we gave some outs away tonight, and that really was the difference in the game. That's about as direct as I can say it."
"Bonifacio stealing the base and scoring on that play, that's what we see from him," said Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez. "That speed. Ground ball to second. [He] steals, [the] ball gets away and he scores. Good effort."
Pie, who has started just three games this month, said that he knew he'd made a mistake in center field. Trembley had outfield instructor John Shelby talk to him about it before the media entered the clubhouse, and he also had third-base coach Juan Samuel speak to him about the baserunning error he'd made in the first inning.
"I have to throw the ball," said Pie of his gaffe. "I think I forgot who is running. I didn't make a decision to throw to home plate or second base. That's my fault. I have to throw the ball to second base."
The Orioles (32-39) had started the game well, netting hits from Brian Roberts and Pie to start off the first inning. But then, with Roberts on the move toward third base, Pie paused and made a delayed motion toward second. The Marlins (37-36) easily threw him out and escaped the inning on a strikeout and a ground ball.
Pie, for his part, said that he didn't get a good read on Roberts and needed to make a quicker decision. Trembley critiqued the play with uncharacteristic venom.
"There was a very big mental mistake in the first inning, which snowballed on us," Trembley said. "I thought that just took the air right out of the ball for us right out of the chute. We had the leadoff guy on, first and second, Roberts steals third standing up. I don't know how you guys saw it, but it looked like stop-and-start, stop-and-start."
Right after that, the Marlins seized control, and Bonifacio was involved again. With a runner on base, Bonifacio hit a grounder and presented a speedy target running up the first-base line. Melvin Mora made an errant throw that Aubrey Huff couldn't corral, then Hanley Ramirez drove in two runs to take the game's first lead.
Baltimore starter Jason Berken (1-4) would allow just one more run, and that came on a walk and a double by Cody Ross in the fourth inning. The Orioles lifted Berken after five innings, handing the ball to the bullpen.
"Obviously, you want to go out there and have a quick first inning and set the tone," said Berken. "Fortunately, I was able to get the double play and kind of minimize the damage. But it was one of those games where it was kind of a struggle. I didn't necessarily have my best stuff, and my command wasn't as good as it usually is. Numbers-wise, it wasn't that bad, but performance-wise, I was disappointed that I didn't throw the ball better."
Baltimore took advantage of a Florida error in the sixth to score its only two runs, but the offense wasn't able to push another runner to scoring position. The game may have been more one-sided if not for a strong throw to the plate by Nick Markakis in the sixth inning, a play that erased a runner and may have briefly shifted momentum.
The Marlins got three consecutive hits in that rally -- including two doubles -- but came away without a run. Trembley lauded Markakis for his throw but said he was looking forward to Thursday's series finale.
"It was really hard to come back, but we came back, got close, got within one run," Trembley said of his team's effort. "This is a game where, obviously, you learn a great deal from. Hopefully, it doesn't happen again, and you go out tomorrow night and play a much better game. That's what we want to do right from the beginning."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.