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As if the Astros’ offensive explosion Wednesday night didn’t hurt enough, the Orioles may have lost a member of their bullpen in the process.
Speaking to reporters in Houston following Baltimore’s 11-7 loss, right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson revealed he is dealing with a left oblique issue that he first felt while warming up early in the game as starter Freddy Garcia was lit up for four home runs in three-plus innings of work at Minute Maid Park. Johnson entered in the fourth inning and gave up two homers in the inning on his way to completing 2 1/3 innings.
Johnson hopes the issue is minor and won’t warrant a trip to the disabled list, but oblique injuries are never a good sign as left-handed starter Wei-Yin Chen can attest.
Per WNST.net’s Ryan Chell, outfielder Xavier Avery was on his way to Houston Thursday morning and could be a short-term option on the 25-man roster with Markakis not scheduled to rejoin the club until Friday in St. Petersburg.
The Orioles are already playing shorthanded as right fielder Nick Markakis is away from the club for his grandmother’s funeral, but Johnson would have been unavailable to pitch in the series finale in Houston anyway after throwing 55 pitches on Wednesday.
Johnson began the season on the 15-day DL with a right lat strain suffered in the latter stages of spring training.