Manager Dave Trembley had the game lined up just as he wanted. Matt Albers covered the sixth inning and cleaned up Kevin Millwood’s mess. Will Ohman played the role of lefty specialist to perfection. Set-up man Jim Johnson retired the side in order in the eighth to protect a one-run lead.
Enter the closer.
Exit the victory.
So it didn’t go exactly as planned.
“That’s the way it is. That’s how it will be. There’s nobody else who’s going to close it. That’s (Mike) Gonzalez. He’s going to close it,” Trembley said.
“Ohman is going to come in and match up left against left. He did a tremendous job. Johnson’s your eighth-inning guy. More times than not, it’s going to work in your favor. It didn’t tonight.
“(Albers) did tremendous. He came in and did the job. He stayed away from the big inning. Got the double play ball. The table was set for the guy that comes in and is there to get the last three outs in the game and it didn’t happen.”
Gonzalez’s fastball was hitting 93 mph. Unfortunately, the Rays were hitting his fastball.
“We said that when the season started and the lights went on, all our guys would come out stepping their game up, and I think you saw that from everybody, not just the pitchers,” Trembley said. “You saw that from everybody.”
That includes Millwood, who stood to be the winner.
“It just goes to show you don’t get all caught up in spring training, so we can put that to bed,” Trembley said. “The guy is a pro. That’s what we expected, that’s what we know we were going to get more times than not from him. And that’s why he is the No. 1 guy on this staff.”
The Orioles were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and Trembley was painfully aware of the stat. He immediately corrected a reporter who thought it was 1-for-11.
“Both sides had opportunities and you can just chalk it up to maybe they made a little bit better pitches,” Trembley said. “We hit some balls right on the button that didn’t fall in and, unfortunately, then it comes back to you’ve got to get the last three outs in the game. So it really doesn’t matter what you do the first eight. You’ve got a one-run lead going into the ninth, what you have done earlier in the game is a wash. It doesn’t really matter. It comes down to getting those three outs in the ninth. Whoever gets them first is going to walk away the winner. We didn’t get them.”
I guess it really is a simple game. It also can break your heart.