If someone came up to me, handed me a baseball and said, “Okay, we are up by one run with three outs to go. I want you to go strikeout the other team’s three best hitters and I’ll buy your dinner,” I would probably have to change pants. The job of closer doesn’t do that to every MLB pitcher but it is not easy by any stretch of the imagination and blown saves come with the job. Too many blown saves for Jim Johnson this year however could kill the Baltimore Orioles playoff hopes.
Johnson is one of the game’s best closers. That is what makes this hard to understand. I mean last year he was high up in Most Valuable Player and Cy-Young voting. He converted 51 of 54 save chances over the entire season and helped the Orioles to the post season. This year he already has six blown saves. The latest came in terrible fashion against the New York Yankees. He misplayed a ball and walked the tying run in. Walking the tying run in as the closer is a cardinal sin.
It is unacceptable. Throw the ball down the middle and give up a grand slam before you walk a run in. There is nothing more helpless than that feeling of watching the closer throw ball after ball after ball. Johnson is still great most of the time and I wouldn’t harp on this stuff except for losing a game they should have won against the Yankees hurts the Orioles playoff chances. I don’t want to point fingers but Johnson’s six blown saves means there are a few games at least that he should have saved but didn’t. They are only five games out as of this writing. Do the math.
Down the stretch run they are about to embark on, the Orioles have no better option than Johnson coming out of the bullpen in the ninth inning. They had better find their religious players have them start praying because if something doesn’t stop Johnson’s blown saves trend, nothing on Earth will be able to save their playoff chances.