Francisco Rodriguez throws against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, Aug. 7. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Never react in the emotionalism of the moment. Always do it in the light of day, and try not to speak in anger.
Jim Johnson‘s two blown saves against the Arizona Diamondbacks this week would challenge any believer in those bits of wisdom. The Baltimore Orioles’ closer has made himself the topic of hot and heavy debate among the restless, which describes the majority of Orioles fans. The most extreme reactions involve releasing him, but even though that was Kevin Gregg‘s fate two years ago, things are not that dire yet.
Johnson, who surrendered the tie run in the 9th inning of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games before the Diamondbacks won in extra innings, has frustrated plenty of people but has yet to reach Kevin Gregg levels. Things aren’t that dire yet, but objects in mirror are closer than they seem.
Even if Buck Showalter doesn’t pull Johnson and let Francisco Rodriguez do the closing for a while, going closer by committee seems within reason at this point. Rodriguez, Darren O’Day, and Tommy Hunter would be candidates, depending on the due batters in the 9th inning, on a case-by-case basis. Wouldn’t your mind need a break if you were Johnson right now?
He’s not the only Oriole who needed today’s day off. With certain exceptions, several hitters, including Adam Jones and Manny Machado, had unproductive at-bats and key situations. Was that partly because of good Arizona pitching? Yes. The other team always gets paid to get Oriole hitters out, too. But there were plenty of pitches Jones (who was red-hot on the first two legs of the trip); Machado (who hit a 2-run homer last night), and others, had no business swinging at.
Jones apparently has not canceled his Twitter account just yet after using it to take a Giants fan to task for hurling a banana in his direction a few days ago. He tweeted today that the Arizona series was like root canal without novocaine.
Your mind probably needs a break if you’re a fan, too. In a previous blog entry, I talked about the idea that September collapses are legion in history, and that as long as a given team stays within a handful of games of first place by the end of August, things don’t really get serious until Labor Day. This holds true currently, considering the Orioles play the Red Sox nine times, the Rays seven, the Yankees seven, and the A’s (a wild-card contender) three between now and the end of September. A three-game home series against the Sox closes the regular season, and what a series that will be if the division or a playoff spot comes down to those three games.
That’s all well and good, but to pull it off, the key is be positioned well, and that means every game means something now, as well as then. Starting with the Colorado Rockies this weekend.