All around the clubhouse, the relief was palpable and somewhat evident. Baltimore's players didn't carry on or pump the music loud after Monday's victory, but they did acknowledge that it was a game they needed to win.
"You don't panic 25 games in or whatever," said second baseman Brian Roberts. "But at some point, you have to start winning games and we haven't done that. We certainly needed to get in the win column. ...I think guys still feel relaxed and we're still pretty confident. It just hasn't gone our way much lately."
And that's putting it lightly. Baltimore had lost five of its last six games by two runs or fewer and has seen its starting pitchers win just two games since April 14. The situation had gotten so desperate that manager Dave Trembley elected to switch his bullpen, removing George Sherrill as the closer after just two blown saves.
"Yeah, it's been rough, but it's a long season," said right fielder Nick Markakis. "We'll go through streaks like that. Everybody does. You just have to battle through it and look to win any game you can."
That strategy worked on Monday night, and the Orioles can move forward with Koji Uehara on Tuesday. Uehara has been rock solid for Baltimore over his first month of big league action, and the Orioles hope he can provide another effective start Tuesday. If he does, Baltimore can win its first series since April 23.
It's all about small goals for the Orioles, who haven't had a winning record since 1997. Baltimore is just 3-8 on the road this season and 5-9 against American League East opponents, both numbers that don't bode well in the big picture. And if you ask around, you'll find that none of the Orioles believe their start is insurmountable.
"It's early," said Sherrill, who will likely face lefties late in the game for Baltimore. "We haven't even been playing a month yet. It's tough to get into a hole this early, but we have enough time to dig ourselves out."Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Koji Uehara (2-2, 4.50 ERA)
Uehara left his last start after suffering a bruised sternum on a line drive back through the box, but the Orioles don't expect him to miss any time at all. The right-hander has worked at least five innings in each of his first five starts and has held the opposition to three runs or fewer four times. TB: RHP Matt Garza (2-2, 3.82 ERA)
Garza was about as dominant as you could be against the Red Sox on Saturday. The 25-year-old had a perfect game going through six innings -- which ended when Jacoby Ellsbury led off the seventh with an infield single -- and ended up giving up just one hit with one walk while striking out 10 through 7 2/3 innings. Bird bites
Roberts broke an 0-for-18 skid with two crucial hits late in Monday's game. Roberts played in his 1,002nd game as an Oriole Monday, passing B.J. Surhoff for 13th place on the franchise's all-time list. ... The Orioles are 3-1 against Tampa Bay after going just 3-15 against the Rays last season. ... Markakis has reached base safely in 35 consecutive games, which is the longest streak in the Majors. He's also hit safely in 19 of the last 20 games. Tickets
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105.7 The Fan Up next
Wednesday: Orioles (Mark Hendrickson, 1-4, 5.79) vs. Twins (Kevin Slowey, 4-0, 5.17), 7:05 p.m. ET
Thursday: Orioles (Brad Bergesen, 1-0, 5.17) vs. Twins (Glen Perkins, 1-2, 3.34), 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday: Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 2-2, 5.05) vs. Yankees (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.