Eliminating today’s closer candidates (heading to the 14th)

Darren O’Day pitched the seventh inning today, allowing an inherited runner to score.

Francisco Rodriguez pitched the eighth, stranding the potential tying run in scoring position.

The Orioles are clinging to a one-run lead and Jim Johnson is warming in the bullpen.

It figured to be Johnson in a save situation. Manager Buck Showalter isn’t ready to make a change. He’s standing firmly in Johnson’s corner.

Johnson, of course, has blown two straight save chances after converting 10 in a row. He has 39 saves and eight blown saves.

Which number goes up today?

Rodriguez struck out Jason Kubel on a nasty changeup to end the eighth. He was working his fourth game in five days.

In his last five outings covering five innings, Rodriguez has allowed no runs and two hits, walked one and struck out nine.

He’s not closing today. Neither is O’Day. Tommy Hunter is sitting down.

It’s up to Johnson again.

Update: This is the wrong kind of hat trick.

Johnson blew his third consecutive save and his ninth this season, allowing a leadoff double to Gerardo Parra and an RBI single to Aaron Hill after Paul Goldschmidt was walked intentionally with one out.

The Orioles have 21 blown saves this season.

Johnson retired the next two batters, striking out Matt Davidson and getting Tuffy Gosewisch to line softly to short, but the damage was done.

Chris Tillman again is denied his 15th win because of a blown save.

Now what?

Update II: Tommy Hunter has retired all nine batters that he’s faced, striking out four of them, to keep the score tied heading to the top of the 14th inning.

The Orioles had their chances to go ahead. Plenty of them.

They loaded the bases in the 10th and Nate McLouth hit into a double play. They put a runner on base in the 11th and Ryan Flaherty hit into a double play. Chris Davis blooped a single into left field leading off the 13th, moved to second on J.J. Hardy’s sacrifice bunt and was stranded when McLouth and pinch-hitter Matt Wieters struck out.

This is now the Orioles’ longest game of the season by innings. They played 13 on June 13 in Boston.

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