Simply Horrific - Jim Johnson blows three run lead
Written by Mike Laws
O’s fall in bottom of the ninth on worst blown save yet from Johnson
Orioles 5, Toronto 6
You can now add Matt Wieters, Tommy Hunter, Adam Jones and Miguel Gonzalez to the list of Oriole players owed a nice big expensive dinner from Jim Johnson. Because, at this point — following what is doubtless the most egregious in the Baltimore closer’s recent run of blown saves — why even bother talking about Wieters’s 4-for-5 effort, including three doubles, the first of which drove in the first Oriole run, in the first, the last of which, with two down in the ninth, plated a pair, inflating the Oriole cushion to three? Is anyone going to remember Hunter battling to limit the Jays to just a run in the eighth, keeping the lead intact, culminating in a simply unreal barehanded stab on a Jose Bautista comebacker with the bases loaded? Or the fact that Jones, in addition to homering in his fourth straight game, also chipped in with a dazzling — not to mention timely — leaping grab on a ball that seemed destined to cruise over his head in center? And Gonzalez’s scrappy start — in which he, too, consistently dug deep to retire the Toronto offense just when it had mounted a serious threat — forget about it. Like the snows of yesteryear, gone from this earth.
But let’s get to the bullet points before I get really effin’ mad.
- Now, I’m in no way letting Johnson off the hook with what I’m about to say. He was abysmal: couldn’t find the plate to save his life — witness the four hitters against whom he went full, or the three at-bats he started 2-0, or the walk of Anthony Gose that loaded the bases with one out — and when Johnson did come near the strike zone, he got tagged: Edwin Encarnacion led things off with a double the other way; Adam Lind singled to center; J.P. Arencibia slapped a single to right. Bear in mind: I’m not skipping any at-bats here. This was three consecutive base hits, surrendered to begin an inning the Orioles entered with a three-run lead. Which is precisely the issue I, for one, have with Buck Showalter’s (non)management of his closer. Yes, the comically aggressive Brett Lawrie went first-pitch swinging, flying out to right; but certainly when Johnson responded to that development by walking Gose, he should’ve gotten the hook. Some days Johnson has it; some days he doesn’t. He’d already made abundantly clear that today fell into the latter category. But instead of turning the ball over to someone who might’ve been able to deliver the team from this quagmire, Buck stuck with his closer — as far as I can figure, simply because he is the closer. Which is not a good enough reason. And, after falling behind to Mark DeRosa 2-0 — and after DeRosa grounded into a fielder’s choice that brought the Jays to within one — it was light-hitting Toronto shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, who’s only even playing because Jose Reyes is still hurt, who took a pair of offerings for balls, then a generously called high strike, then another ball, then a poured-in strike — and then tagged the payoff pitch the other way, into the gap in left-center, all the way to the wall, bringing DeRosa all the way around from first to cap the four-run rally and win the game for the Jays. Sickening.
- And like I said, it makes all the good stuff that happened prior practically not worth talking about. So I don’t think I will. Turns out I’m still pretty effin’ mad after all.
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