O.CO COLISEUM — A begrudged Jim Johnson sat in front of his locker, starring with a blank look on his face. He’d just given up what appeared to be a sure win.
With a one-run lead entering the ninth inning, Johnson was searching for his first save in an A’s uniform.
Instead, he allowed three singles, two walks, and two runs, letting Cleveland slip by with a 6-4 victory.
Oakland fell to their second loss of the season, and Johnson blew his second outing in as many attempts. His numbers with the A’s have ballooned to a 45.00 ERA and an 8.00 WHIP, a far cry from what fans and the club expected.
After the game, a solemn Johnson said:
“Every pitch had conviction and intent, maybe not every one of them was executed perfectly.”
Mildly said by the 30-year-old right-hander, who was booed heavily by fans for nearly every batter he faced.
A’s fans have been known for their staunch attitude, but the reaction Johnson received was a bit more than staunch. Maybe even harsh.
Nonetheless, in his single inning with Oakland, he’s given up five runs on five hits, three walks, and two close games. Manager Bob Melvin said he isn’t ready to give up on him just yet:
“You know what, it’s been two games. Potentially because of the pitches he threw tonight, as far as tomorrow [we might not use him]. But we traded for him for a reason, he has a terrific track record. Obviously he’s off to a slow start.”
Johnson struggled during Spring Training as well, something Melvin hasn’t put much stock in. Regardless of who might supplant Johnson if he’s removed from the closer’s role, the A’s need all the help they can get after losing starting pitchers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin to injuries.
Griffin could return return as early as late April, though Parker will miss the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery.
Johnson consulted with catcher Derek Norris and pitching coach Curt Young, hearing only what he already knew: A couple pitches were up, waiting to be smacked:
“I wouldn’t be doing anybody any favors if I hang my head. These guys need me. These guys are playing their butts off. We should be 3-0. And, obviously, I’ll take the blame. But if I sit there and sulk and pout, that’s not going to do anybody any good.”
Despite sour flavor in the clubhouse, Oakland did have some bright spots.
Reserve outfielder Sam Fuld, who got the start after center fielder Coco Crisp played in the first game of the double-header, was lights out. He reached base three times, with a run and an RBI.
With Josh Reddick proving streaky the last two seasons, having a solid reserve player that can be relied upon is crucial to Oakland’s success.
Designated hitter Brandon Moss also had a multi-hit game, with an RBI and Reddick waltzed across home plate once.
The A’s close out their first series with a 1-2 record, while the division rival Seattle Mariners are currently undefeated. Oakland is fourth in the AL West, ahead of only the Los Angeles Angels.
“Anytime you lose a game in the ninth inning, it’s difficult, but you move on. You have to.”
Oakland will have a chance to right the ship, and take over the top spot in the West, hosting Seattle Thursday through Sunday.