The Orioles have one of the better closers in baseball, but last night they watched Jim Johnson blow a third consecutive save opportunity. Through most of baseball, it’s hard for a manager to walk to that mound, call in a reliever and feel absolute trust. But it must be hard for Joe Girardi to feel anything less these days.
In the month of May, the Yankees bullpen has pitched to a 1.66 ERA (10 earned runs, 54.1 innings). The relievers walked 13 and struck out 55. In the past 10 road games, they have a streak of 26.2 scoreless innings.
“It’s pretty basic for them to come in and make pitches and get people out,” Austin Romine said. “Right now, these guys are working real hard. They’re making pitches when they need to make pitches. We’re pitching smart, and good things are happening when you put the ball in the glove.”
If ever there were a time to appreciate Mariano Rivera, it’s surely after watching Johnson struggle, then watching Rivera pick up his 17th consecutive save. He continues to be that steady force in the ninth, a goal for every pitcher ahead of him just working to get the ball in his hands.
“It’s not normal what he does,” Vernon Wells said. “We’re just glad to have him on this team. We’ll continue giving him opportunities, he’ll continue slamming the door and we’ll shake hands after the game.”
Rivera said he feels strong. Despite the age, despite the workload, he feels sharp. And it shows. It’s hard to doubt him when he’s getting results like this.
And the rest of the bullpen seems to be falling in line ahead of him.
“I feel the same with my teammates; I feel the same with my manager,” Rivera said. “You have to feed off that, the confidence with anybody. He puts anybody there. Everybody has been doing the job and hopefully we’ll continue doing it. It makes the team feel great. … Everybody is pitching. That’s what it is. It’s not only about one player, it’s about 25 players and a bunch of guys in the bullpen that we have. Everybody is doing their job. It’s a nice thing and I enjoy every bit of it.”
Associated Press photo