I’m not a big fan of blaming the manager for everything that goes wrong. The manager’s job is to put players in position to succeed and hope they reward that trust. Tonight Dave Trembley did not put his players in position to succeed. Brian Matusz was tossing a gem, holding the Rays to 1 hit over 7 innings until giving up back to back singles with one down in the 8th. At that point Matusz was over 90 pitches and clearly starting to tire. Trembley should have pulled Matusz with a 3 run lead and patted him on the butt for a job well done. He could’ve handed the ball to Jim Johnson with 2 straight right handed hitters in Bartlett and Rodriguez due up. Instead Trembley let Matusz give up singles to Bartlett and Rodriguez before pulling him. Now Jim Johnson enters not with the tying run at the plate, but on second base. He also entered to face a lefty, Ben Zobrist, rather than back to back righties. Predictably Johnson gave up a ground ball single to future AL MVP Evan Longoria and the lead and Matusz’ stellar effort went down the toilet.
These are the kinds of decisions that will cause Trembley to lose the trust of his players, and ultimately his job. Tonight he grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory and pissed off a lot of players and fans in the process. The O’s are now 1-7 and the schedule doesn’t get any easier. They must get some wins against a very pedestrian Oakland team this weekend before the MFYs and Red Sox take turns drumming the O’s in the coming weeks. Before the season started there was a lot of talk but National media outlets about the Orioles’ brutal schedule over the season’s first 35 games. At this pace they may be lucky to be 10-25 by that point.
I’ll predict that Trembley is mercifully canned as the team nears the end of that 35 game stretch and a new manager is brought in to lead the team the rest of the season. It’s becoming abundantly clear that this franchise needs an identity. The star players are too young to be expected to take leadership roles and Trembley simply doesn’t command the type of respect needed to lead a real turnaround. Buck Showalter, Bobby Valentine, Willie Randolph; those are the names that Andy MacPhail should have on speed dial in the coming weeks.