BALTIMORE -- The Orioles were benefactors of almost everything a team needs to win a game Monday night. They got a solid performance from starting pitcher Brian Burres, and timely hitting that produced a four-run lead to hand to the bullpen.
No problem, right? After all, the Orioles' bullpen has been a model of consistency this season -- ranking fourth in the American League with a 3.25 ERA.
The problem, however, was exposed after Burres exited the game in the sixth inning. The bullpen allowed the Royals to chip away at that four-run lead until it turned into a 6-5 loss for Baltimore. With reliever Matt Albers on the disabled list, the Orioles' bullpen has been thrown for a loop -- leading to the team's first loss this season after entering the ninth with a lead.
"What I'm concerned about is filling Matt Albers' role," manager Dave Trembley said Tuesday. "I think the brief time that Albers has not been available to pitch for our club, people have seen how valuable he was. It probably would have been Albers coming in the game last night and taking it to the end. I might not have had to go to anyone else in the bullpen.
"Now I'm bumping guys up in roles and using them earlier in the game. It's like last night, I would have brought [George] Sherrill in to face [Alex] Gordon with two outs in the eighth and get a four-out save. I would have done it, that's why I had him up. You don't like to do that, but you're almost forced to do that when you don't have a guy the caliber of Albers to come in and just do it."
The Orioles are also without left-hander Jamie Walker, as he recovers from left elbow inflammation. But Trembley said he expects the remaining members of the Orioles' bullpen to bring their games up a notch.
"[Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] talked to [Ryan] Bukvich today, he talked to [Dennis] Sarfate today and I just talked to [Adam] Loewen," Trembley said. "Those guys are going to have to step it up. Those guys are going to have to take Albers' place and do what Albers did. ... Opportunity is there, and somebody will come to the forefront and I'm sure grab a hold of it."
Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.