Despite Jim Johnson's second stretch of three consecutive blown saves this season, Orioles manager Buck Showalter reiterated his confidence in the closer on Friday afternoon.
“I think we have a lot of options, and he’s one of them,” Showalter said. “We’re lucky to have all those options. It’s just like different guys have failure. I know the finality of it. I know the questions should and need to be asked. It’s frustrating for Jimmy and me. I’m not frustrated with him. I’m frustrated for him.”
Johnson failed to protect one-run leads on the road against the San Francisco Giants last Friday and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday and Wednesday. Against the Giants, the Orioles scored three runs in the 10th to win the game, but they couldn’t hold in extra innings in the two games against the Diamondbacks.
Johnson leads the major leagues with 39 saves this year, but he also has blown nine saves this year and has a 3-7 record.
“There’s some adjustments that need to be made along the way. I understand the sense of urgency with 42 games, but I also know we’re still in a position to do what we set out to do this year. We won’t give in.”
** Right-hander Kevin Gausman will have his next start in Triple-A Norfolk pushed back because of soreness in his right arm, Showalter said before Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies.
“He feels good,” Showalter said. “He’s not happy about not pitching. He’s had a little soreness.”
Gausman last pitched Aug. 8 against Gwinnett, and he’s 0-2 with a 5.20 ERA in six appearances (five starts) for the Tides this season. In his past two outings, he’s allowed two runs and six hits in 10 innings, striking out six.
Skipping Gausman’s start also works to limit his innings slightly as well. The right-hander has thrown 107 1/3 innings between the Orioles, Norfolk and Double-A Bowie this season. Norfolk also has a six-man rotation, so it allows the other pitchers with the Tides to work on regular rest.
“It wasn’t something anyone seemed alarmed about,” Showalter said. “There was some give and take about if they were even going to do it.”
** Right-hander Bud Norris is still scheduled to pitch Saturday’s game after appearing in the final inning Wednesday at Arizona.
“I talked to him about the option, if he wanted to go Sunday,” Showalter said. “That was a real short conversation.”
Scott Feldman will be available out of the bullpen Saturday, but if he isn’t used, he’ll pitch Sunday’s series finale. The Orioles’ starter is currently listed as TBA.
** Right-hander Jason Hammel, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a flexor mass strain, played catch Friday. Showalter doesn’t know what the next step is for Hammel, but he could play catch again Sunday or Monday depending on how he felt after Friday.
** Showalter commented on the announced instant replay outline that was announced by baseball.
“It’s a start,” Showalter said. “You got to start somewhere. It’s going to be better than it was. It improves our game. I think it improves it for the fans.
"You got to be careful, I guess, football, baseball trying to say it’s the same, but I said many times I couldn’t imagine watching a college or pro football game [without instant replay]. It’s kind of like the wild card and different things. You go, ‘Gosh, why didn’t we do this before?’ I think that’s we’ll see.”
Rockies lineup: Fowler 8, LeMahieu 4, Tulowitzki 6, Cuddyer 9, Rosario DH, Helton 3, Arenado 5, Torrealba 2, Culberson 7; Nicasio 1
Orioles lineup: McLouth 7, Machado 5, Davis 3, Jones 8, Markakis 9, Wieters 2, Hardy 6, Urrutia DH, Roberts 4; Chen 1.