Yes, the Orioles had a three run lead heading into the 9th inning. But it really could have been a much larger advantage. As a team, the Orioles were 4-18 with runners in scoring position. They left 12 men on base. They easily could have scored more runs. Just like any other team sport, though it may appear one link in the chain bears more responsibility, in reality Johnson may not have been pitching in a save situation if the Orioles had converted on even one more of their chances with RISP.
Jim Johnson has now blown 4 of his last 5 save opportunities. His slider has been up in the zone, and instead of seeing ground ball outs, we are seeing balls hit hard in the air. He’s a smart guy with great stuff who’s in a funk, and his slump will end.
Let’s be real, this bullpen is struggling right now. much of it is due to the inability of the starters to pitch into the later innings. This is not a recipe for long term success. Starters and relievers are going way too deep into counts. Despite a 1-2-3 first inning, Miguel Gonzalez still needed more than 20 pitches to get the job done. Jim Johnson has now thrown 51 pitches in the last two days, so he will not be available today. Darren O’Day wasn’t an option yesterday because he had pitched 3 out of the previous 4 days, though he would likely be the 9th inning choice if the Orioles have a lead this afternoon.
This team needs to figure out a way to right the ship together, or they will all go down with it.