ST. PETERSBURG -- On Wednesday afternoon, manager Dave Trembley defended the decision to have Garrett Atkins running home on an infield grounder in Tuesday's loss, calling the play basic baseball.
It also ended up being one of several squandered opportunities by the Orioles to tack on any insurance runs. Baltimore was a dismal 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and the Rays eventually squeaked out a 4-3 walk-off win on Opening Day.
Atkins doubled -- his first hit in an Orioles uniform -- to open the ninth inning and advanced to third on a textbook bunt single from Cesar Izturis. After a visit to the mound for Rays reliever Rafael Soriano, Brian Roberts hit a ball to third baseman Evan Longoria, who let the ball hit his chest before gunning out a hustling Atkins at the plate.
"Would you rather have a 5-4-3 double play or would you rather have first and second, one out, with the guy batting in the two hole and the guy batting in the three hole coming up?" Trembley said. "Juan Samuel is the third-base coach and a very good one. The play was done correctly.
"What made it not look so good was Longoria booted it. But you don't know that. You're going on the ground. You're reading contact down. You're not going as soon as the ball is hit. You're going contact down. You see a ground ball, you go."
Trembley acknowledged it would have been better if Longoria had fielded Roberts' ball cleanly, setting up a double play. In that scenario, the Orioles -- up 3-2 entering the ninth -- would have scored and taken a two-run lead.