Hey, don't accuse Buck Showalter of being set in his ways.
Actually, go ahead. He probably is. Most of the time. Maybe nearly all of the time. But not every of the time! Here's MASN's Roch Kubatko on Showalter's end-game Wednesday night:
Jim Johnson didn't warm up in the eighth inning tonight. He stood up, stretched, took a drink of water and sat back down, removing the glove from his left hand and the towel from his shoulder.
The Orioles had a save situation, protecting a 4-2 lead, and manager Buck Showalter sent Darren O'Day back out for the ninth. After one batter, Brian Matusz came into the game. After one batter, Tommy Hunter came into the game and earned his fourth career save -- all of them coming this season -- in a 4-2 victory over the Rays at Camden Yards.
Should we read anything into Johnson not pitching tonight?
"Oh, sure, you can read it," Showalter said. "We've got 30-something games. We're going to put our best foot forward every night. Jimmy's our best option, one of them. I'm glad we've got more than one good option. We've got a lot of good options and we'll continue to make use of them."
Gosh, you would almost think ... you would almost think that ... relief pitchers can pitch effectively even when they don't know exactly how they're going to be used on a given night.
Heresy! Heresy, I say!
I kid Buck Showalter because I love him. No, he doesn't have some magical ability to win close games. And yes, he could have been more flexible with his bullpen sooner than he has been, especially considering that Jim Johnson's not exactly Mariano Rivera. But without a single great reliever -- unless you count Hunter, who has been great this season -- Showalter can win a few more games if he mixes and matches, and he deserves credit for doing that Wednesday night.
He'll deserve more credit if he keeps doing it.