After all, Palmeiro was playing in his first game since July 31 and had yet to hit the ball out of the infield. But there was no one else interim manager Sam Perlozzo wanted up with two on, two outs and Baltimore trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 7-6 Sunday.
"When I looked at the card, I was thinking positive and I said, 'Let me tell you what. It's going to get down to this and I'd love to see him get a knock here,'" Perlozzo said.
Some fans booed, but others chanted "Raffy! Raffy!" as he dug in against Toronto closer Miguel Batista.
Palmeiro hit a routine fly to right, capping an 0-for-4 performance and sealing the Blue Jays' fifth win in six games.
"You never want to see him come up," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He's a great hitter, but his timing was a little off. He was out in front."
It might be a while before Palmeiro regains his home run swing, and it will probably take a little longer for Baltimore fans to completely forgive the troubled slugger.
In his first game since returning from a 10-day suspension for using steroids, Palmeiro received a mixed response from the crowd of 30,954. The cheers probably outweighed the jeers, but it was evident that not everyone was in a forgiving mood.
"I thought it was exactly the way it would be," Perlozzo said. "I thought the cheers eventually lasted longer than the boos, and the boos quieted down."
Palmeiro returned to the Orioles on Thursday, but Perlozzo waited until Sunday to finally put him in the lineup. Batting sixth as the designated hitter, Palmeiro drew a walk in his first plate appearance but followed with three grounders before his final climactic at-bat in the ninth.
"It was kind of like opening day, almost," Palmeiro said. "You're anxious to get out there and you want to start, get going again. I was a little nervous."
Palmeiro, who contends that he has never intentionally taken steroids, will next test his popularity on the road. Perlozzo said he won't start Palmeiro in Oakland on Monday, but probably will get him back in the lineup Tuesday.
The Orioles were seeking to win a second straight series for the first time since early May, but Toronto snapped a 4-all tie with a three-run eighth. Russ Adams hit a leadoff single off Tim Byrdak (0-1) and was at second with two outs when Reed Johnson hit an RBI double off Todd Williams that glanced off Sammy Sosa's glove in right field.
Jason Frasor (2-5) allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings, and Batista gave up Melvin Mora's RBI groundout and a run-scoring single to Javy Lopez in the ninth before earning his 21st save by retiring Palmeiro.
"Miggy got the job done," Gibbons said. "He went through some pretty good hitters there."
Toronto got a run off Erik Bedard in the first inning when Johnson hit a leadoff double and scored on a two-out wild pitch. Baltimore scored twice in the bottom half on a run-scoring groundout by Miguel Tejada and an RBI double by Lopez.
The Blue Jays used two singles and a groundout to pull even in the second, but the Orioles regained the lead in their half when Brian Roberts hit a sacrifice fly to score Jay Gibbons, who reached when center fielder Johnson lost his high fly ball in the sun.
Baltimore went up 4-2 in the fourth when Eric Byrnes drew a bases-loaded walk.
- Toronto starter Dustin McGowan yielded four runs, five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.
- Sosa went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-25 in his last seven games. He batted seventh for the first time since Sept. 17, 1993.