The Baltimore Orioles return home from a painful series in the desert with Jim Johnson’s job possibly in jeopardy.
Buck Showalter, however, isn’t about to make any wholesale changes and plans to stick with his beleaguered closer.
The Orioles try to put a disappointing stretch behind them Friday night when they open a three-game set against the Colorado Rockies.
Baltimore (65-55) got off to a promising start on an eight-game trip by winning four of five, but things took an ugly turn in Arizona. The Orioles lost all three to the Diamondbacks on the final at-bat, and Johnson blew the save in the last two.
“It was a tough series,” starter Chris Tillman said after Wednesday’s 5-4, 14-inning loss. “You’ve got to look forward to the next one at home. I think we’ll be all right. With a few adjustments here and there, I think we’ll be all right.”
Those adjustments won’t include a changing of the closer.
Showalter was asked if Johnson, the major league leader with 39 saves, would be removed after blowing his third consecutive save opportunity, but he refused to blame him. Prior to that bad run, Johnson had thrown 10 1-3 straight scoreless innings.
“Am I going to sit Adam Jones because he had a rough day?” Showalter said. “We’ve got a lot of pieces in the chain that have to work and every club does. And I’ll be the first guy to make adjustments if they need to be made, but there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to shore up besides that.”
Driving in more men on base would certainly help.
The Orioles went 5 for 21 - including four singles - with runners in scoring position in Arizona after batting .327 in such situations in their previous five.
Jones was in the middle of Baltimore’s offensive woes, going 0 for 14 against the Diamondbacks.
Chris Davis had four homers on the road trip and has three in his last six games in Baltimore. He’ll be getting his first look at scheduled starter Juan Nicasio (6-6, 5.04 ERA), who has surrendered five homers over his last 14 starts.
Colorado (57-65) is coming off Wednesday’s 4-2 win over San Diego to complete a 5-1 homestand on the heels of a 1-9 road trip.
“Coming off that road trip, we need to turn things around quickly, and real proud of the way the guys have played on this homestand and have turned it around,” manager Walt Weiss told the Rockies’ official website.
Leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler has played a big role in the turnaround, batting .391 with six RBIs and eight runs in the last six, and Corey Dickerson has started to look more comfortable. The rookie has six hits - four doubles and two triples - in 10 at-bats over his last three games after batting .279 with six extra-base hits through his first 30.
Now the Rockies want to stay locked in on the road, where they’ve dropped five straight and nine of 10.
Fowler is batting .216 away from home - 1 for 17 this month - compared to .313 at Coors Field. Troy Tulowitzki has hit .241 on the road, including 3 for 39 since July 10, and .358 in Denver.
They’ll be going up against Wei-Yin Chen (6-5, 3.06), who has received three total runs of support in losing his two August outings. The left-hander had a sixth straight quality start Saturday, when he threw five scoreless innings before a three-run sixth led to his removal in a 3-2 defeat at San Francisco.
Nicasio is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in his last three starts after going 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA in his previous three.
Neither starter has faced his opponent.