There was clearly a difference in opinion on one of the key plays in the Orioles' 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays today at Camden Yards.
With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the sixth inning and reliever Jason Berken trying to keep the score tied at 4, Jason Bartlett hit a hard one-hopper at slightly pulled-in third baseman Miguel Tejada, who fielded it and then fired home to make sure he cut down the lead runner. However, catcher Jake Fox's throw to first base to try to complete the inning-ending double play was too late to get the speedy Bartlett.
Berken then walked the next batter, Evan Longoria, to force in the go-ahead run. Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel said after the game that Tejada should have first thrown to second to start the more conventional 5-4-3 double play.
"I think probably Tejada should have gone to second base there, so it was unfortunate. Jason came in and gave us a ground ball, so that's what we were asking for," Samuel said. "He said he was set up mentally to go home with it, and we'll always let those guys know, if the ball's hit hard you go to second base, and if you don't think you have a chance to turn the double play, we need to come home with it. He knows he should have gone to second base."
Tejada, however, maintained that he made the right decision and was slightly annoyed and surprised when it was suggested otherwise.
"It was a great decision," Tejada said. "You know why it's a great decision? They've been killing us because we haven't been turning double plays from second. They've been killing everybody because we haven't been turning the double play. Now they said we lose the game because I didn't throw to second? Who said it was going to be a double play? It doesn't really matter. I'm the one that made the decision. I'm the one out there. I have to have confidence in my pitchers.
"In this game, you don't guess. Whatever you decide, you have to go. You have to believe in the pitcher out there. I think when you play against Tampa Bay, they are a great hitting team, and the less runs we can let them score, that would be great. And that wasn't a slow runner going to first."
Fox said either decision Tejada made would have been fine, but the Orioles needed to be a little quicker in making the decision.
"You either got to go home or go to second base, and either way is the right way," he said. "You just have to make the decision. I think it was a little bit of indecision that made us a hair slow in getting it to first base, but either way, he made a good play and made a good throw. "