When it was over, after Orioles manager Dave Trembley stated his case, drew a line in the sand and finally motioned for the ejection of second base umpire Paul Emmel, the sparse crowd at Camden Yards stood up and cheered.
A couple of innings earlier, they had rained down boos on the Orioles after several defensive miscues and Daniel Cabrera's continued struggles resulted in an eight-run deficit by the fourth inning.
But for a moment - albeit a brief one - all was forgotten as Trembley erupted after a blown call at second base, his Earl Weaver impersonation winning rave reviews. It was a nice diversion during another embarrassing loss, an 18-6 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels in front of an announced 15,136.
"It's pretty miserable, to be honest with you," left fielder Jay Payton said. "It's bottom of the barrel right now. I don't think it can get a whole lot worse than it is right now. ... I've been with six different teams and I've never been through anything like this."
The Orioles' 18th loss in their past 21 games - they've been outscored by an astonishing 100 runs during that span - featured more shoddy defense and another poor performance by Cabrera, who allowed 10 runs (eight earned) on nine hits and four walks in just 4 1/3 innings.
It was the seventh straight start in which an Orioles pitcher turned in five innings or fewer. It also was Cabrera's fourth straight defeat, dropping him to 9-16 with a 5.37 ERA. He is tied for the major league lead in losses.
In his previous start, Cabrera nearly incited a brawl by throwing a pitch behind the head of Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, a move that earned him a stern lecture from Trembley. This time, Cabrera kept his composure. However, that was more than could be said for Trembley, who was ejected for the second time in the past 12 games.
Trembley blew his stack on Emmel during the Orioles' five-run fourth inning off Kelvim Escobar (17-7) that cut the Angels' lead to 8-5. With men on first and third and one out, Payton hit a ball into the shortstop hole. Orlando Cabrera fielded it and threw to second base to try to get the force on Scott Moore.
Replays showed that second baseman Howie Kendrick was off the bag when he caught Cabrera's throw, but Emmel called Moore out at second. Trembley immediately sprinted out of the dugout to argue with Emmel, who didn't waste much time in ejecting the manager. But Trembley stayed on the field long enough to get his money's worth.
He dug his spikes into the ground to draw a line near second base as if to point out where Kendrick was when he caught the ball. Then he made a gesture as if he was throwing Emmel out of the game, an action that earned him applause from several Orioles in the dugout and might result in a suspension when reviewed by the league.
"It's a situation where I felt the guy was safe. That's all. I thought he was safe," Trembley said. "The game is, at times, a difference of opinion."
Trembley spared himself from watching his team allow three runs in the fifth before things really got ugly even by the Orioles' standards in the final two innings. In the eighth, Fernando Cabrera and Danys Baez combined to walk five batters, two of them bringing in runs in the Angels' five-run inning. In the ninth, Baez allowed a two-run homer to Brandon Wood, the first of his major league career.
For the game, Orioles pitchers allowed 14 hits and 13 walks and hit a batter. The staff's ERA is 9.05 in the past 21 games, a stretch in which the Orioles have been outscored 196-96.
"This is the worst [stretch] ever in all the years I've been here and the worst ever in my life," said third baseman Melvin Mora, who felt some pain in his side while striking out as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. "The worst."
The boos started early from a restless crowd, as the Orioles played as if they were counting down the days to their vacation. Even fan favorite Brian Roberts was the target of boos after dropping a throw at second base that could have led to a rally-killing double play and then failing to catch two throws on Angels steal attempts.
"He made a mistake," Trembley said when asked if it appeared that Roberts lost his focus. "He's a heck of a ballplayer. It's just unfortunate that the first inning was magnified the way it was."
Shortstop Miguel Tejada also fumbled a routine grounder that allowed a run to score in the first inning, in which the first five Angels reached base against Cabrera. But for a brief moment, Trembley made the ugly inning an afterthought.
"We're all upset, mad and ticked off," Payton said. "You get a little chuckle over seeing him do that. But like I said, it's bad. There's really not a whole lot he can do. He's putting us out there. If we don't perform, it's not his fault."
Notes -- The Orioles honored the Single-A Frederick Keys, winners of the Carolina League championship, before last night's game. Frederick defeated Salem on Tuesday, 5-1, behind Pasadena native Chorye Spoone's second complete game of the playoffs. The Keys won the best-of-five series, 3-1, to claim their second title in three years. ... Single-A Delmarva outfielder Brandon Tripp was named the organization's minor league Player of the Year, and Orioles pitcher Radhames Liz, who spent much of the season at Double-A Bowie, was honored as Pitcher of the Year. Catcher Brandon Snyder, the Orioles' first-round pick in the 2005 draft, was named Comeback Player of the Year.