Since the start, these
The bullpen, built through shrewd trades and bargain-bin signings, quickly emerged as one of the best in baseball, and held up throughout the season despite a revolving door in the Orioles rotation. The relievers were the primary reason that the Orioles had the best record ever (29-9) in one-run games and hadn’t lost an extra-inning game since dropping consecutive ones to the
The bullpen was among the things you could count on every night.
But this morning, after the Yankees beat the Orioles in 12 innings last night, hoards of sleepy O's fans stumbled to work, still stunned the bullpen did not come through in the clutch, as was expected.
“It breaks your heart,” said rookie starter
The Orioles trail the hated Yankees, 2-1, in the
Johnson's blown save came three days after the Yankees broke open a 2-2 tie with five runs on him in the ninth inning.
In 10 innings this postseason, the Orioles bullpen has allowed seven runs, with six of them coming off Johnson. The closer has been rocked for a pair of critical home runs after giving up just three all season. Johnson, who won't back down from a challenge or adversity, says that his command has been the issue.
"I feel like it is just location. I feel the same I've felt the 162 games before that. It's just one of those things that just happens," he said. "And like everything that happens, it gets magnified in the playoffs."
The Orioles aren’t out of it yet, but they have given themselves quite the degree of difficulty. To advance, they must win a pair of games at
And they are going to have to do it with an Orioles bullpen that will be running on fumes and adrenaline. Johnson has pitched in every game this postseason and has thrown 68 pitches over 4 1/3 innings since last Friday. Matusz, the former starter turned lefty specialist, and Darren O'Day, the nearly-unhittable sinkerball pitcher, have also pitched in each of the past four games. We will probably see all three again tonight. In the postseason, especially in a win-or-go-home situation, there are no rules when it comes to overworking your best relievers. Everyone is available tonight, though that doesn't mean they will be at peak performance.
"Jimmy is a big-hearted talented guy that, believe me, we'd be at home watching without people like Johnson," Showalter said. "He's a special guy. We're real proud of him and you'll see him again tomorrow night, I hope."
What, did you think that Showalter was going to stray away from his one of his best pitchers now? Now that would be unpredictable.