Baltimore closer Jim Johnson has had a memorable week – for all the wrong reasons. He blew two saves last week, culminating in two critical losses for the Birds.
With the Yankees coming in to Camden Yards last night to play a three game set, the Orioles were primed to snap a five game losing streak and defeat their rivals.
With Baltimore leading at the start of ninth inning, 4-3, and having gotten the best of New York starting pitching C.C. Sabathia, it seemed like they would win on the night. Chris Davis homered in the game, Nick Markakis drove in two runs, and J.J. Hardy had two hits.
Oriole starting pitcher Freddy Garcia looked like he was going to implode early; however, he came through with a quality outing, going six innings and giving up only two runs. Garcia’s start was typical of him – nothing great or noteworthy, but the job got done.
It is a performance that Baltimore sorely needed, considering the state of their starting pitching as of late.
All seemed to be going right for the Orioles.
Then Jim Johnson came in last night in the ninth.
He blew another save – again. The New Yorkers would tie the game at four; in the tenth inning, the Orioles would give up two more runs and the Yankees wound up winning, 6-4.
Mariano Rivera got the save for the Yankees and his 70th against the Orioles.
The story of game obviously centers on Jim Johnson. He blew his third save in a row and people – for good reason – are not happy with him.
The court of public opinion wants him yanked from the position. Considering where the Orioles are and want to be, every loss is critical -- even in May.
Johnson was one pitch from perhaps snapping a losing streak for Baltimore. Travis Hafner – a seasoned veteran – saw an offering from the Orioles’ closer and crushed it.
Johnson missed his spot and Hafner made him pay.
However, let’s be honest. Every closer will have a clunker at some point. Usually not three in a row, but they will have times of struggle at some point in their career.
Johnson was a huge reason why the Orioles won 93 games last year and ended up in the playoffs; therefore, he should remain the closer for the time being.
Then again, Johnson will only close for so long if he is blowing critical games.