Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson has been outstanding through the first three weeks of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. However, his scoreless streak came to a screeching halt Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore’s 6-5 extra inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Johnson replaced reliever Troy Patton in the top of the 10th inning after two outs were already recorded. The Orioles decided to leave Johnson in the game to handle the top of the 11th inning. The right-hander quickly got two outs, something Orioles fans have got accustomed to seeing this season. Considering Johnson has pitched so well in 10 innings this year, it is hard to imagine that he could not handle one more out. However, there is apparently a reason why he has not tossed more than a full inning in a single outing in 2013.
The 29-year-old gave up back-to-back singles to J.P. Arencibia and Munenori Kawasaki. Instead of trying to pitch around Brett Lawrie, Johnson accidentally let one get away from him that hit the slugger to load the bases. At that point, it was evident that Johnson no longer had his stuff. Johnson followed up the hit batter with a walk to Maicer Izturis on four straight pitches to give the Blue Jays the one run lead.
I am not sure why Orioles manager Buck Showalter did not pull his closer with the game on the line. I understand that Showalter wanted to see Johnson get out of his own mess. However, considering Johnson pitched in the two prior games in the series, and clearly did not have his stuff in the series finale, it would have been wise to remove him from the game.
Unfortunately, Baltimore could not complete the sweep over Toronto, and Johnson was forced to take his second loss of the season simply due to exhaustion.