Each time a pitcher steps on the mound, whether it's to start a game or work in relief, Orioles manager Dave Trembley does a two-part evaluation. Much of it keeps him in the present, the rest shifting his thoughts to next season.
Trembley already has been told he will return in 2008. He's trying to figure out who will accompany him.
Brian Burres wants to be there in whatever role he's offered, and Trembley seems inclined to bring him along. But the left-hander knows that he'll fade from those plans if he repeats last night's outing, when he was charged with seven runs and couldn't get past the fourth inning in a 11-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before an announced 15,867 at Camden Yards.
The present wasn't a safe haven for Burres, not while eight of 10 Blue Jays had hits against him during a particularly bad stretch. Frank Thomas hit a three-run homer in the third, his 410-foot blast increasing Toronto's lead to 6-0.
Rob Bell entered the game after Burres hit No. 9 hitter John McDonald with one out in the fourth. McDonald scored on Reed Johnson's double, leaving Burres with seven runs on his ledger to go with eight hits and a walk.
"I expected that Burres was going to pitch as well as he had the last couple of times," Trembley said. "He didn't tonight. Like we've been saying for the better part of 40 or so games here, it's about starting pitching. And our starting pitcher, after we lost the guys that we lost, it's been spotty. It's real hard to be out there when the runs come as quickly as they come."
Burres was making his 16th start in 36 appearances this season. He went back into the rotation Sept. 14 and allowed only two runs in 14 1/3 innings before the Blue Jays roughed him up and handed the Orioles (67-90) their 25th loss in 34 games.
"I'm trying to be as open-minded as I possibly can about the pitching and see if there is any possible way in any conceivable role that these guys could help us," Trembley said.
"Other than that," he said, "I think it's pretty open."
Trembley later included Daniel Cabrera, who has given the team innings but not much more.
"We're not going to win here or be able to compete here just because somebody gives you innings. They're going to have to be successful. They're going to have to go out there and give you a chance to win. There becomes a point in time where potential goes out the window. It's results now. Results have to get better," Trembley said.
"That's prospect status. And prospect status should be over in your third or fourth year in the big leagues. You should be producing. You should be producing and helping the team to win."
Burres (6-7) didn't give the Orioles much of a chance last night. He allowed four straight hits in the second inning before getting a double play and fell further behind when McDonald doubled to extend Toronto's lead to 3-0. Hector Luna and Alex Rios singled in the third before Thomas launched his 26th home run.
"I just didn't have any good stuff tonight," Burres said. "Everything was up. I threw a lot of good balls to hit, and they hit them."
The added burst came in handy for Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett (10-7), who was cruising until the Orioles scored three runs in the fifth.
The Orioles didn't get a hit until Brian Roberts reached on an infield single with two outs in the third, the ball ricocheting off third base as Luna tried to make a backhanded stop. Miguel Tejada had a single in the fourth but didn't advance past first base.
Burnett allowed five hits in the fifth, including Melvin Mora's run-scoring double and Nick Markakis' single that produced his 110th RBI. An earlier run scored on McDonald's throwing error, but the Orioles left the bases loaded after second baseman Aaron Hill made a sliding stop of Aubrey Huff's grounder.
The Blue Jays scored three times in the seventh off reliever Rocky Cherry - two runs coming on Hill's 17th homer - to increase their lead to 11-3. It marked the 17th time this season the Orioles surrendered 10 or more runs in a game. Not surprisingly, they haven't won any of those games.
Burnett has defeated the Orioles four times this season and held them to two runs over seven innings in an April start while getting a no-decision. He scattered 10 hits last night and left in the seventh with the bases loaded after allowing a run in the inning.
Brian Wolfe ended the threat by getting Ramon Hernandez to ground into a force. Hernandez vented by slamming his helmet to the ground. Trembley went to his bench after the inning, putting Scott Moore at third base, Luis Hernandez at shortstop, Brandon Fahey at second base and Paul Bako behind the plate.
Notes -- Center fielder Corey Patterson missed his 19th straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... Huff's hot second half, after his traditional slow start, could alter his winter routine. "He told me that he's going to continue hitting for the better part of the off-season," Trembley said, "and that's not what he's done the last couple of seasons."