Showalter sticking with his closer

Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t ready to change closers after Jim Johnson’s third consecutive blown save.

Asked if there was any doubt that he would go right back to Johnson tonight in another save opportunity, Showalter replied, “Come back tomorrow and watch it again.”

“He was one pitch away,” Showalter said after the Orioles’ 6-4, 10-inning loss to the Yankees at Camden Yards that extended their losing streak to six games, their longest since May 26-June 1, 2012. “It’s tough. He shouldn’t feel like... You know, the other team’s pretty good, too. They have a lot of good people that they acquire and put in the lineup.”

Johnson retired Robinson Cano to begin the top of the ninth before serving up a home run to Travis Hafner that tied the game 4-4. Johnson has allowed eight runs and nine hits in his last three appearances over 2 1/3 innings.

“I thought he threw the ball pretty well,” Showalter said. “He had one pitch. We had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark. That’s pretty much it. Not just Jimmy. He made some really good pitches - Cano, after the home run.

“Freddy (Garcia) made a couple mistakes and paid for them. Troy (Patton) made a mistake and paid for it. Jimmy got behind in the count and the guy hit a 370 foot home run in the right part of the park. The same park we play in.”

Showalter doesn’t expect Johnson to react any differently than usual.

“Jimmy’s a very consistent human being. Professional and a great teammate,” Showalter said. “We didn’t do enough to win tonight. We. We’re all human beings. We have certain ebbs and flows to all of that. He’s solid as they come. The want-to is over the top and he made a lot of good pitches tonight.

“It’s frustrating for him, but he wasn’t the only one who could come out of this game a little frustrated tonight. But I understand that’s where the focus is because those are probably the questions you get asked.”

Pedro Strop took the loss after allowing back-to-back doubles to Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells in the 10th.

“(Suzuki) just ambushed a fastball - cheating on it,” Showalter said. “I think it was a breaking ball he got out over the plate to Vernon Wells. You’re talking about two guys there who are pretty good hitters. But I didn’t like the way Tommy (Hunter) felt tonight. I was going to stay away from him. He should be OK tomorrow. I wasn’t going to pitch him tonight.”

Showalter removed starter Freddy Garcia after six innings and only 66 pitches, and Patton gave up Lyle Overbay’s leadoff home run in the seventh.

“It’s tough, but I see (Garcia) between innings, it’s a sticky night, and that last inning was the first time he’d shown a...not quite as crisp,” Showalter said. “We felt like where they were with their batting order, we hung a breaking ball to Overbay, hung a breaking ball to (David) Adams, and got a fastball over the plate to Travis, a strong guy. (Robinson) Cano, shouldn’t feel like he’s picking on us, fastball over the plate.

“We had some opportunities to stretch the lead. Not many. I can’t tell you how proud I am the way our guys grinded out one of the best pitchers in baseball. Got him out of the game with the lead. We’ll take our chances with that. Our guys will turn the page and show up tomorrow.

“Losses with our guys, they take them the way they should be taken. I’ll leave it at that. Each guy handles it his own way. It’s what separates them from people who don’t play the game for a living, and don’t do it professionally and aren’t as talented as they are. That’s the separator. That’s why they were so good last year and have been so good this year.

“I’m not going to throw out the number of great closes, one-run leads on the road that our pitching staff and our bullpen have closed out for us this year already. I don’t live in that world because I choose to.”

blog comments powered by Disqus