When Jim Johnson blew a save in the past two seasons, Orioles manager Buck Showalter continued to stick with him as the club’s closer because of his experience in the role.
This year, though, closer Tommy Hunter’s leash seems to be a bit tighter.
After giving up four runs in the ninth inning Tuesday, Hunter didn’t get a chance to redeem himself Wednesday in the Orioles’ 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards. Hunter still appears to be the closer, but there seems to be a small level of uncertainty after he blew his second consecutive save Tuesday night.
“The difference between Tommy and Jimmy is that Jimmy had a track record,” Showalter said. “Tommy does, too, with certain other things, so there’s some unknown about where this will go with Tommy.”
Johnson converted 51 of 54 save opportunities in 2012, tops in the American League.
Showalter continued to stick Johnson in the closer’s role last year, even though he wasn’t as unhittable as the previous season and led the major leagues with nine blown saves. He went on to save 50 games again.
That might not be the case for Hunter, who had flirted with disaster for most of the early season before it finally caught up to him with the back-to-back blown saves.
After allowing just three earned runs in 112/3 innings to start the season, Hunter has given up at least one run in his past four appearances. He has a 21.60 ERA in 31/3 innings in that span, making his season ERA climb to 6.60.
Showalter has never been a fan of a closer-by-committee approach, but he said he’s considering it.
“I consider everything,” Showalter said. “Which time of the night? Midnight, 1, 2, 3 of 4 [a.m.]?”
Showalter objects to call reversal
Showalter said he disagrees with the decision made by baseball’s replay officials to overturn the call when Tigers pinch-runner Rajai Davis slid into second base in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
Davis was initially called out by second base umpire Paul Nauert, but the call was reversed after the officials examined the play more closely at the request of Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
“I finally saw the replay that they used to overturn it,” Showalter said Wednesday. “I’m glad I didn’t see that last night before we talked. That’s what they overturned it with?”
After Don Kelly and Ian Kinsler lined out and Torii Hunter walked, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run home run to give Detroit a 3-1 lead. Victor Martinez followed with a solo home run.
Though the call at second base didn’t directly lead to the Orioles’ downfall, Showalter said he thinks the crew made the incorrect decision. He said part of Davis’ guard protruded and helped him reach second base. The longer the extension is, Showalter said, the quicker the runner gets to second base.
“They have a thing now, it can only be X amount of inches,” Showalter said. “Otherwise you could take a lead at first, take one step and carry a 10-foot pole and reach and touch second base.”
Johnson back on minor league DL
Right-hander Steve Johnson had right shoulder discomfort once again Tuesday night, Showalter said.
The Orioles considered promoting Johnson this week, according to Showalter, but they didn’t do so because Johnson hadn’t pitched enough since coming off the disabled list May 3.