Long before a save situation presented itself in the eighth inning of the Orioles' 8-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz had decided that Jim Johnson was going to get the ball.
It didn't matter what the inning was, or what was the situation. If there were key outs to get after starter Brian Matusz departed, they wanted Johnson, who blew a save and took the loss a day earlier, to get them.
"I thought you had to go with the guy with the best stuff," Trembley said. "He needed to pitch. [ Ty] Wigginton hits a home run and gives him a little cushion, but if he's going to be the guy that pitches late in the game, you got to give it to him. All the mixing and matching, sometimes enough is enough with that. You have to go with what you think is the best arm. I thought he was the best arm today against their hitters."
Johnson rewarded Trembley and Kranitz's faith and got a bit of redemption by turning in two scoreless innings in which he allowed just one hit and struck out two.
Johnson, who inherited the closer role when Michael Gonzalez went to the disabled list, acknowledged that he was slightly surprised to get the call in the eighth inning and wondered at first who would get the ball in the ninth.
"Honestly, I started thinking about it and then I kind of wiped it from my mind," Johnson said. "I didn't want to be thinking too far ahead because you get in trouble doing stuff like that. So, basically, at that point in time, I was just trying to get every out one at a time. I know it sounds like an old cliche, but realistically, you have to go about it that way."
Asked how important it was that Trembley sent him right back to the mound a day after blowing a save, Johnson said, "Obviously, it's nice for the manager to have my back."
Thank you, skip
Designated hitter Nolan Reimold entered Sunday hitting .167, and when he came to the plate in the fifth inning with men on second and third and one out, he was in the midst of a 2-for-20 slump.
It was an interesting time for Trembley to give one of his hitters a green light to swing on a 3-0 count. Yet Reimold got it, and he smacked a fastball from Brett Anderson to the left-center-field wall. A's center fielder Rajai Davis made a leaping attempt, but the ball went in and out of his glove, giving Reimold a two-run double and the Orioles a 6-1 lead.
"You always give your hot hitters the green light on 3-0," joked Reimold, who hit cleanup Sunday for the first time all season. "Sometimes that's the only time you know you're going to see a fastball. [Trembley] gave it to me, and it was a good situation. I'm glad he didn't catch it at the wall."
When Reimold got back to the dugout, he bumped fists with Trembley and thanked him.
"You have to do that," Trembley said. "He came up and thanked me, and I said: ‘That's what you're in the fourth spot for. I put you in the fourth slot because I have confidence in you.' It's a simple decision. Early in the game, you probably don't like to do that, but today, we're not holding back anything. You've got your bullets, you might as well shoot them."
Tejada sits, but DL unlikely
The Orioles are now classifying the injury third baseman Miguel Tejada sustained while running to first Saturday as a strained right hip adductor, but they remain optimistic that he'll miss only a couple of games.
If it was up to Tejada, he would be back in the lineup Monday, when the Orioles open a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners.
"Running will probably be difficult, but nobody plays this game 100 percent," Tejada said. "Always in this game something is hurt, and I know how to play with pain in my body and I want to be in there. I just talked to the manager, and if I feel good tomorrow, I'm going to try to go tomorrow."
Tejada, who was forced out of Saturday's game in the sixth inning, said he is able to walk without a limp and doesn't feel any pain, just a little soreness.
Around the horn
Clubhouse sources confirmed that it was reliever Mark Hendrickson who organized the players-only meeting before Saturday's game. In an unrelated note about Hendrickson, the big left-hander has allowed the lowest opponents' batting average (.125, 3-for-24) among relievers with a minimum of 20 at-bats against them. … Second baseman Justin Turner and left fielder Lou Montanez made their first starts of the season Sunday. … Perhaps seeking to change the team's luck, Trembley had starting pitcher Kevin Millwood take out the lineup card before Sunday's game. … The Orioles' victory Sunday was their first at the Coliseum since July 22, 2007, a span of 10 games. … Wigginton has four of the Orioles' past six home runs.