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Jim Johnson is not making a name for himself with the Oakland Athletics fan base (yet?) -- unless "You %^$&$%*&!!" counts as a name, of course.
In a scene all too familiar in the first eight games of the 2014 season, Johnson once again entered a game in the ninth inning and couldn't get much done. This time, with a 4-2 lead in Minnesota against the Twins, the A's new "closer" got one out while putting four men on base.
He surrendered two walks and two hits, and the only out he recorded was on a popped-up bunt attempt by Minnesota right fielder Chris Herrmann. Otherwise, Johnson was terrible again: his ERA now stands at 18.90 on the season in his five appearances over 3.1 innings so far.
He has yet to record a 1-2-3 inning for the A's, as he's coughed up nine hits and six walks while striking out just four batters in those 3.1 innings.
Johnson should not be closing on this Oakland team, period. He's already cost the A's at least one win (the blown save against Cleveland on April 2), and he's lost a second game as well (March 31 against Cleveland)
If not for Derek Norris' 11th-inning heroics today, hitting a three-run home run off Jared Burton, it's possible the new closer could have cost the team another win.
And they've only played eight games -- throw in the fact the 30-year-old righty is making M this year, on a team with a total payroll of just over M, and it's preposterous production (or lack thereof).
Meanwhile, Grant Balfour is making just M this year with the Tampa Bay Rays, so why did the A's let him walk and bring in Johnson to replace him?
This is a decision that may well haunt Billy Beane throughout the 2014 season, and chances are it will be Luke Gregerson pitching the ninth inning for the A's by the All-Star Break -- if not sooner.
But yes, all's well that ends well, and Oakland won the game today, 7-4. But it didn't need to be so dramatic or so hard, did it?
Only Jim Johnson really knows the answer there for sure. And if he's letting his play do the talking, he's losing the argument with the boxscore -- and the fans.
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