Already-embattled Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez will be a hot topic on bar stools, talk radio and message boards tonight after he blew his second save in three opportunities in the Orioles' 7-6 loss to the Blue Jays.
Yes, things got ugly out there in the ninth inning of the Orioles' home opener, from Gonzalez's wild performance to the crowds' hearty boos in Gonzo's Camden Yards debut to a pair of idiots getting escorted off the field by police officers. But for maybe the third or fourth time in my two years at b, I want to focus on something positive from a loss.
First, though, here's a quick update of the Gonzalez situation. At his post-game press conference, a frustrated and flustered Dave Trembley looked like he had just found out Jesse James was cheating on him. The Orioles manager called out Gonzalez for costing the Orioles two games with blown saves, but firmly insisted that "he's the closer." Trembley was not pleased with the fans already turning on Gonzalez, saying he "didn't need a hearing aid" to hear the angry Camden Yards crowd booing his new closer.
To his credit, Gonzalez didn't make any excuses for his early-season struggles, saying that he understands the fans' ire. He knows he needs to pitch much better to keep his job as closer – and to be able to go out in public after sunset. My guess is that he won't be taking the family to The Cheesecake Factory tonight.
Now the positive: Miguel Tejada was spectacular in his first game at Camden Yards in his second tour of duty with the Orioles. The Orioles' third baseman went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs, and had another flawless game at his new position in the field. Sure, Miggy struck out to end the game, but what more could you ask from him in his return to Baltimore?
"I'm really happy to come back here," Tejada said. "I'm really honored to see all the fans cheer for me."
Perhaps the loudest the crowd got this afternoon – outside of the cacophony of jeers Gonzalez received – was in the fifth inning when Tejada ripped a line drive into the left field bleachers to tie the game at 5-5. And wow, what a rocket that two-run shot was. It felt like it took about a second to leave the ballpark. Unfortunately, I left my stopwatch in another pair of pants, so I guess we'll never know. It was Tejada's first home run of the season. He's batting just .235 so far, but his five RBIs lead the team.
After the game, Tejada said that he was pleased with the energy the fans brought to Camden Yards in the home opener. He also said on a couple of occasions that it's time for the 1-3 Orioles to start giving those fans something to cheer about.
"We've got to pump it up and win some games for the fans," he said.
In case you were wondering, Tejada thinks Gonzalez will turn things around soon.
After watching Gonzalez get booed off the field, I'm pulling for the guy. But we'll see about that.