TORONTO -- J.R. House was talking to a small group of reporters about the positive energy and support that Orioles manager Dave Trembley provides for the club when Trembley politely interrupted the conversation to deliver a gift.
Trembley handed House two authenticated lineup cards from the Orioles' 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. In the game, House went 2-for-4 with a bases-empty home run, the first of his major league career.
"You see, he does stuff like that for his players," said House, who also received the ball from his first major league homer.
House paused briefly to make sure his emotions were in check. It was a special afternoon for the 27-year-old, who, four surgeries and an attempt to resuscitate his football career later, was back in the major leagues and contributing to an Orioles victory. It helped that he was able to do it in front of Trembley, who is from a neighboring town in Florida and has known and supported House for nearly a decade.
"I pull for him," said Trembley. "I've pulled for him for a long time. I know who he is and where he's from and what he's done to get another chance in the big leagues. He's a guy that epitomizes our philosophy. He's never given in, never given up."
House's infield single in the fourth inning was his first big league hit since July 23, 2004, when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He wound up scoring the eventual game-winning run later in that inning on Tike Redman's ground ball to first base.
House's long home run in the sixth - he lined Jesse Litsch's 0-1 curveball into the second deck in left field - extended the Orioles' lead to 5-3. House, recalled Monday from Triple-A Norfolk, said that he plans to put the ball on the mantel next to the one he collected from his first major league hit.
Millar's streak lives
Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar got the day off yesterday, his streak for consecutive games reaching base remaining at 45, the longest current streak in baseball.
If he reaches base today - and the Orioles are facing former American League Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay - he'll tie Cal Ripken Jr., who reached base in 46 straight games in 1998. He'll also move one step closer to Ken Singleton's franchise record of 49 straight games, set in 1977.
"What if I catch Ripken?" Millar jokingly asked. "I'm hoping that they take down the 2,632, and I'm hoping that I get a big 50 on that [warehouse]. I want the spotlight on those numbers."
Millar said that he didn't know that he had the streak until about 10 games ago.
"As a player, what I take pride in, is trying to have good at-bats. I always try to have positive at-bats," he said. "I like streaks. I love hitting streaks. This is a great streak, because you're in the mid-40s and we've faced a lot of tough pitches."
Trembley on Hernandez
Catcher Ramon Hernandez, who had yesterday off, had a tough day all around on Friday, allowing two passed balls and hitting pitcher Rob Bell with a throw that was intended for second base to try to catch Blue Jay John McDonald stealing. Trembley offered a blunt assessment of his catcher.
"He's had his good games, and I think he's had games like [Friday] night where [he's had] some lapses," said Trembley. "I think Ramon hasn't been 100 percent for the better part of the year. ... I think he's still dealing with the effects of the [strained left] oblique. ...
"I've already told him, this offseason, I think he should dedicate himself to get in the best physical shape that he possibly can."
Around the horn
When several of the relievers took the field yesterday for pre-game stretch, they had printed targets taped to their backs, a joke obviously directed at Hernandez. ... Utility man Freddie Bynum, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in a rehabilitation game Friday night for Single-A Frederick, will likely be activated before tomorrow's game.