I’m smelling a closer controversy in Baltimore.
Buck’s post-game comments after Wednesday’s win — “Jimmy’s our best option…one of them.” — was both confusing and telling at the same time.
Ahead 4-2 heading into the top of the 9th inning, Showalter elected to stay with 8th inning pitcher Darren O’Day rather than hand the ball to Jim Johnson to start Tampa’s final regulation half inning.
Two others pitched in that 9th inning – Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter – and Johnson never even got up to stretch.
Showalter’s quote in the aftermath of the win was odd to say the least.
“Jimmy’s our best option…”
Followed by: “one of them…”
I’m no wordsmith, but isn’t it impossible to our BEST option and ONE of them at the same time?
I understand Johnson pitched in the 9th inning on Tuesday night, but he’s gone back-to-back nights on many occasions over the last three seasons. Buck could have thrown that out there — “Well, Jimmy worked Tuesday night, remember, so we figured we’d just give him rest…” — but he knows we wouldn’t believe it.
Showalter went to Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter last night because, right now, he doesn’t trust Jim Johnson.
It worked last night, by the way. Even through O’Day and Matusz put runners on base, Hunter was able to wiggle out of it and the Birds picked up a much needed win over their division rivals.
So, for one evening at least, Buck’s decision to not give the ball to Jim Johnson worked.
That said: I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Jim Johnson as the closer for this team.
He’ll be back, maybe as early as Friday night against Oakland if the situation calls for it.
Jim Johnson is still the closer of the Orioles.
He just wasn’t their BEST option on Wednesday night against the Rays, no matter what Buck said after the game.