More on the closer situation
The Orioles used three different pitchers in the ninth inning on Wednesday, none named closer Jim Johnson, begging the question: How much can you read into manager Buck Showalter’s decision?
“Oh sure, you can read,” Showalter said of the move to give the struggling Johnson a night off. “We’ve got 30-something games [left]. We’re going to put our best foot forward every night. Jimmy’s our best option, one of them. I’m glad we’ve got more than one good option. We’ve got a lot of good options and we’ll continue to make use of them.”
Johnson (3-7, 3.58 ERA) has blown three consecutive save opportunities after converting 10 straight and has allowed runs in four of his last five appearances. The Major League leader in saves (39) and blown saves, Johnson didn’t warm up in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over the Rays and Showalter said the right-hander wasn’t available.
“I could have pushed it,” said Showalter, who used Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter instead. “[Johnson] had been up two or three days in a row and pitched last night. He’s like second or third in appearances and I was trying real hard to stay away from him.”
Hunter, who entered with runners on first and second and no outs, retired the next two batters before Matt Wieters threw out Kelly Johnson trying to steal second to end the game. It marked Hunter’s fourth career save, all of which have come this season.