Johnson: 'I'm just not pulling my weight'
BALTIMORE – Buck Showalter knew the questions would be asked. He knew he’d be asked about Jim Johnson. After watching uncomfortably as his star closer blew his third consecutive save, Showalter could only offer this assurance.
“Come back tomorrow and watch it again,” Showalter said.
Johnson is his closer—for now. Because Johnson, who led baseball with 51 saves last year has been so shaky over the past week, the Orioles have a six-game losing streak, their longest in nearly a year.
Monday night’s 6-4 loss to the New York Yankees in 10 innings before 24,133 at Oriole Park put the spotlight again on Johnson, who again was waiting at his locker for the inevitable.
“Three of them are my fault. The other guys do their job and I do mine, then we’re not standing here,” Johnson said.
“I’ll figure it out. There’s no other option.”
Johnson gave up two runs in the ninth inning against San Diego and lost a 3-2 game. That broke his club record streak for 35 straight games without a defeat. On Friday, he imploded and allowed five runs in the ninth inning against San Diego. Against the Yankees, it was a ninth-inning home run by Travis Hafner.
“The ball’s up. That seems to be the common thing lately,” Johnson said.
Suddenly, Johnson’s ERA is up to 4.22.
“I haven’t been in this position before. I wasn’t thinking about the last two outings when I was out there today. So I don’t expect to be thinking about the outing before, tomorrow when I’m out there,” Johnson said.
Hafner’s home run ruined a night the Orioles felt they should have been celebrating. They nearly beat CC Sabathia, who has a 17-4 lifetime record against them and won Games 1 and 5 in the American League Division Series.
The Orioles (23-21) had a 4-3 lead heading to the ninth. After Hafner’s home run tied the score, and the Orioles did nothing against David Robertson, it was time for Pedro Strop in the 10th. Strop (0-2) allowed a leadoff double to Ichiro Suzuki and one to the next batter, Vernon Wells. Austin Romine bunted Wells to third, and with two outs, he scored on Hafner’s single against Brian Matusz.
Baltimore hadn’t lost six in a row since May 26-June 1, 2012. The last time they lost more than six was nine straight from July 4-15, 2011.
Robertson (3-0) pitched the ninth for the win for the Yankees (28-16). Mariano Rivera got his 17th save by working the 10th.
“The whole team is not playing well as a team right now. And there’s a lot of things that we could have done earlier in the game that could have given us a bigger lead, a two, three-run lead and give him a little more cushion,” Matt Wieters said.
New York’s Robinson Cano hit a 2-2 pitch from Freddy Garcia into the left field stands for a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. It was Cano’s 13th home run of the year. Yankees third baseman David Adams hit his first major league home run in the top of the second for a 2-0 lead.
Chris Davis hit his 13th to tie Cano for the league lead with one out in the bottom of the second off Sabathia.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles tied the score at 2 when Steve Pearce doubled. He scored on Nick Markakis’ single to center. Sabathia, who ended Markakis’ season prematurely last September by breaking his right thumb, nearly hit Markakis again.
Garcia left after six. He allowed the two runs, three hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
Lyle Overbay led off the seventh with his seventh home run of the season against Troy Patton for a 3-2 Yankees lead.
Alexi Casilla, who played a solid second, singled to lead off the seventh, Markakis doubled to score him to make it 3-all. With one out, Hardy doubled to right, and the Orioles led 4-3.
Sabathia was removed after 6 1/3. He allowed four runs on 11 hits with two strikeouts.
NOTES: The Orioles signed Ronny Paulino to a minor league contract. The signing was first reported by Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Paulino, who spent much of the first half of last season as Matt Wieters’ backup, was released by Seattle on March 30. Before he reports to the Orioles, Paulino must obtain a visa. Last year, Paulino’s spring training arrival was delayed because of his 2010 suspension for using performance enhancing drugs.
-Miguel Gonzalez, who says the blister on his right thumb is fine, will be taken off the disabled list and start on Tuesday. Gonzalez (2-2, 4.58) will face Phil Hughes (2-3, 5.88). A roster move will have to be made.