Hearing from Steve Johnson, Wieters and Flaherty (Johnson optioned)

MINNEAPOLIS - The Orioles optioned pitcher Steve Johnson to Triple-A Norfolk following tonight’s game. They will announce a corresponding roster move Sunday morning. They need to add a reliever who can pitch multiple innings.

Making his first start for the Orioles this season, Johnson was changing speeds effectively over the first two innings while keeping the Twins off the scoreboard and protecting a 3-0 lead.

And then?

“I just kind of lost it,” he said.

Johnson wouldn’t use the cold and windy conditions as an excuse, pointing out that “everyone plays in the same weather.”

“I couldn’t get a good feel for my pitches today,” he said after allowing six runs and seven hits in four innings. “I just couldn’t get my secondary stuff over consistently. I thought I started off all right and just couldn’t make a pitch to get out of that inning. It’s unfortunate when the team gives you that lead they gave you to not be able to make a pitch and limit the damage. It’s not good.

“It was tough to get a grip on the ball, but everyone’s dealing with the same conditions. You need to find a way and I wasn’t able to do it.”

Showalter needed three relievers to cover the last four innings.

“You never want to put the bullpen in that situation,” Johnson said. “I wanted to go out there and go as long as I could. Unfortunately I couldn’t get out of that inning, and I threw a lot of pitches. You don’t want to put the bullpen in that situation and you don’t want to give up the lead the way I did. It’s just not good all around.

“I felt I made a couple close pitches in the third and ended up giving up a couple doubles. But the fourth inning I just lost command, lost the feel for the pitches and obviously walked a couple guys and gave up a couple big hits. You’ve just got to make a pitch and I didn’t do it.”

Catcher Matt Wieters noted how it was a challenge for Johnson to throw his offspeed stuff for strikes.

“The fastball was fine and the changeup came in pieces, but he just couldn’t quite get offspeed pitches that he could keep them off-balance with, and big league hitters will eventually get on time,” Wieters said.

Ryan Flaherty was hit on the right hand in the sixth inning and came out of the game for a pinch-hitter in the eighth, but the two moves weren’t related. Manager Buck Showalter brought in Alexi Casilla to face Twins lefty Brian Duensing.

“It’s fine,” said Flaherty, who singled in the fourth. “It hit the bottom and hit it square. It hit half the hand, half the bat, so it is OK.

“It wasn’t bad. It probably looked worse than it actually was.”

Flaherty said he could play tomorrow, but he’s going to be on the bench against Twins left-hander Scott Diamond.

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