Jim Johnson didn’t warm up in the eighth inning tonight. He stood up, stretched, took a drink of water and sat back down, removing the glove from his left hand and the towel from his shoulder.
The Orioles had a save situation, protecting a 4-2 lead, and manager Buck Showalter sent Darren O’Day back out for the ninth. After one batter, Brian Matusz came into the game. After one batter, Tommy Hunter came into the game and earned his fourth career save - all of them coming this season - in a 4-2 victory over the Rays at Camden Yards.
Was Johnson available?
“I could have pushed it,” Showalter said. “He had been up two or three days in a row and pitched last night. He’s like second or third in appearances and I was trying real hard to stay away from him. Wei-Yin (Chen) went so deep in the game. Darren had two days off. Tommy was good for one up and in.
“If I leave Brian in there, they’re probably going to bunt (Sean) Rodriguez. There were some other factors. I think both of us couldn’t afford to play extra innings.”
Should we read anything into Johnson not pitching tonight?
“Oh, sure, you can read it,” Showalter said. “We’ve got 30-something games. We’re going to put our best foot forward every night. Jimmy’s our best option, one of them. I’m glad we’ve got more than one good option. We’ve got a lot of good options and we’ll continue to make use of them.”
Chen made Showalter’s life easier by working through the seventh inning.
“It set up some options for us being short in the bullpen tonight,” Showalter said. “If he has a five or six inning exit, it’s tough for me to match up there at the end. It just doesn’t fit. That was the key part, only needing to get six outs.”
The game ended with Matt Wieters throwing out Kelly Johnson trying to steal second. Shortstop J.J. Hardy made a tremendous scoop and tag.
As usual, Showalter checked the video before meeting with reporters to clock Wieters’ throw to second.
“Did Wieters get the save?” Showalter asked. “1.75. That’s sick. You can’t do that. He’s had a few of those.
“How about the tag by Hardy? I’ve got to tell you, he’s the best tagger I’ve ever seen. He does it text book where he starts in front and goes to the straddle and lets the ball travel. He catches the ball moving toward the runner. Most people catch it moving up. It’s impossible. For me. Some of you all might be able to do that.
“I thought they might take a pop because Tommy was so concentrated on the hitter. (Jose) Lobaton’s won a couple games for them here recently.”
Showalter wasn’t ready to reflect on Chris Davis tying Jim Gentile for third place on the Orioles’ single-season home run record with 46.
“Not yet,” he said. “I don’t want to jinx him. I’ll let you. I think we’re way past the jinxing stage.
“Chris has got such a great approach. You see the work he puts in defensively every day with Bobby (Dickerson). I’m just proud of the way his work habits haven’t wavered, his preparation. He’s been so routine, his schedule. He approaches every day like the one before. He’s in a good place. There’s Captain Obvious for you.”
The Orioles went 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position in the series.
Hardy is batting .322 with two doubles, four homers and seven RBIs in his last 15 games.
Adam Jones is batting .407 (11-for-27) with a double, two homers and six RBis in the last six games.