As soon as Steve Johnson returned to the mound for the ninth inning last night, I figured he no longer was a candidate to make Saturday night's start in Detroit, unless he recorded three outs on three pitches or learned how to throw a knuckleball.
Johnson was listed as Saturday's starter earlier in the day, but manager Buck Showalter couched it by saying the plans could change if the St. Paul's grad had to work in relief.
Talk about a cruel tease.
Johnson remained in the bullpen through the early innings, which seemed to make him a lock for Saturday's assignment, but Showalter couldn't use J.C. Romero and he didn't want to use Darren O'Day or Jim Johnson unless the Orioles took the lead.
Steve Johnson threw 28 pitches last night, striking out four in his two innings, after throwing a bullpen session the previous night. Showalter suggested that Johnson still was a possibility for Saturday, but it's highly doubtful.
Will he still be on the roster this weekend?
Johnson could be optioned to make room for another starter, or the Orioles could go with a short bench and send down first baseman Joe Mahoney, who hasn't spent enough time in airports these last few days.
Mahoney flew from Norfolk to Baltimore yesterday afternoon, and from Baltimore to Detroit on the team charter last night. His luggage is probably somewhere in Ohio.
Zach Britton would be pitching on normal rest if he's recalled for Saturday's game. He'd also be coming off a statistically poor outing five days earlier, when he allowed six runs - including two homers - in 3 2/3 innings in his first start with Triple-A Norfolk after being optioned.
I stress "statistically" because the reports on Britton suggested that he had good stuff that night. Commanding the fastball was an issue, along with a chipped nail that also bothered him during his last start in Baltimore.
In his only career start against the Tigers, Britton allowed five runs and six hits and walked four batters over five innings. We'll soon find out whether he's getting another crack at them, chipped nail and all.
For the Tigers:
Austin Jackson CF
Andy Dirks LF
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder 1B
Alex Avila C
Delmon Young DH
Brennan Boesch RF
Jhonny Peralta SS
Omar Infante 2B
Justin Verlander RHP